Integrity is super important in education, especially in college. It involves keeping academic standards high, growing personally, and getting ready for real-life situations.
And while colleges set the tone for how much integrity matters on their campuses and in their classrooms, you also have an obligation to personally uphold your own moral uprightness as a student. Even when things are hard, having integrity means you’re reliable and do the right thing.
Let’s take a closer look at why academic integrity is important, what challenges it, and how you can be a part of promoting integrity on your campus.
Why is Integrity Important in College?
Integrity establishes a foundation of trust. In the college setting, trust is built between students, educators, and institutions. Strong academic integrity also enhances the reputation and credibility of the university you are attending. It is their job to set the foundation and expectations for your time as a student on their campus. When they follow through on the expectations they set, they become known as a trustworthy and reputable institution.
Integrity gives you the power to own your ideas and actions while exercising critical thinking. It also lets you learn in ways that help you become a responsible person who follows good rules throughout your life. Specifically, academic integrity shows you care about being a good person. Your college years are a crucial time to develop this characteristic.
Challenges to Integrity on College Campuses
Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty
Plagiarism and academic dishonesty sometimes happen on college campuses. This could be because of problems with language or culture, miscommunication, mental health issues, or willful misconduct. Technological advancements such as AI platforms have also made cheating more accessible. While it may be tempting to peek over a shoulder, slip notes up your sleeve, or have an AI software do all your work, cheating limits your personal growth. It makes you dependent on skating around the rules instead of owning your knowledge and abilities. This will only hurt you in the long run.
You are the only one who can prove and relay your understanding, but you can’t do that if you take credit for someone else’s work. Cultivating personal study and research skills gives you the ability to succeed on your own. These are skills that will transfer into the workforce, so learning them sooner than later will benefit you. Your original ideas may be worth something one day, so be willing to take ownership and give credit where it’s due!
External and Internal Pressures
Some students may also feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed. College can be a high-stress environment that provokes anxiety and makes you feel like you have to meet unrealistic expectations. This pressure can also come out in the form of intense competition that can lead to unethical behavior. Some students are willing to give in to that pressure at high costs.
It is important to remember that you are worth more than your grades. If you are having trouble, attend your professor’s office hours or ask a classmate for help. Most people are willing to help!
Strategies for Promoting Integrity
Integrity should be communicated and promoted within the classroom by educators. It is their job to communicate what they will or will not accept and how that aligns with the university’s guidelines and expectations. This can also look like adding ethics courses into the institution’s curriculum and providing students with resources for proper citation and research techniques.
Also, having open dialogues about academic challenges and pressures will empower students to ask questions and get guidance on the challenges they are facing. This demonstrates that challenges are a normal part of the learning process and asking for help is a critical step in that process.
See Something, Say Something
Accountability is a part of a healthy community. If you see someone violating their academic integrity, speak up. After all, academic honesty directly translates to professional settings. If you have integrity in college, you will have integrity as an employee or leader. But, if you are lacking integrity in college, that is likely to follow you into your career. Keeping academic integrity shows you have a strong sense of ethics that you use in different parts of your life, like work.
Intentional Guidance From Educators
Professors can promote integrity through the way they conduct assessments and evaluations. Designing varied assessment methods can discourage cheating since the layout won’t be predictable from one test to the other. They can also put in place open-book exams to focus on critical thinking and direct citations. Again, learning is a process. Your professors know this, and they know that how you get information is more important than the end results of an exam.
Making sure there’s integrity on your college campus is really important. It helps create a place where real learning, personal growth, and being ethical can happen. When colleges work on challenges and ways to promote integrity, they help students do well in their studies. This will also prepare them for a lifetime of ethical decision-making in their personal and professional lives. Ultimately, integrity in education contributes to the holistic development of individuals. This leads to the betterment of society as a whole.
If you want to attend a college that upholds integrity, we can help you find it with our FREE College Match search tool!