December 1, 2016



Hi Nikki,

I’m doing a school project with my friend. The problem is that my friend’s BFF wants to copy us. I say it’s cheating, but my friend says it isn’t. Plus, her BFF is mad at me now, like I did something wrong!

Should l just give in and let her BFF copy us or not?

To Cheat or Not to Cheat?!?!

Hey To Cheat Or Not To Cheat,

NOT. That’s the short answer!

Look, group projects are a total pain. I have NO idea why teachers are always trying to force them on us. It’s like they think we’re going to need to be able to work well with other people in the real world or something (that was sarcasm!!).☺

It sounds like you’re working okay with your partner, but someone who’s not even in your group wants to copy your work. Even if I’ve gotten the details of that wrong, I wanted to answer your letter because I feel like this is something a lot of us face in school—people wanting to use OUR work.

And here’s the deal: That’s cheating. You’re totally right. Maybe she says it’s not cheating, because she’s thinking of cheating as copying answers for a test. But any time someone wants to use your work and take credit for it, that’s cheating. And it’s not cool.

It’s also a slippery slope. Using someone else’s notes might not seem like such a big deal. But if you do that and get away with it, then it’s easier to copy their homework answers when you had a busy day and forgot to do the assignment. And if you do that and get away with it, it’s easy to peek at someone else’s test paper to make sure your answer is okay. And if you do that and get away with it, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to copy facts from a textbook word for word in your report without citing them…

You get the point.

Look, I get that some kids are under a lot of pressure to get good grades. They feel like it’s worth anything to make sure they bring home straight A’s. But it’s NOT. And most of their parents would agree—it’s better to be honest and get a lower grade than cheat your way into a high one.

In addition to the fact that you hopefully want to be a good person…cheaters get caught. Maybe not every time. But a lot of the time. And then there are consequences. They can be serious, depending how old you are.

So yeah, I completely agree with you that it would be cheating to share your project. (Because the person who shares their work is cheating as much as the person who uses it.)

It’s crummy to feel like people are mad at you. But you’re doing the right thing. You can’t change how they act about it. You can only control your behavior. Michelle Obama says, “When they go low, we go high.” It doesn’t matter what you think about politics—that’s some good life advice right there.

So you stick to your beliefs. I support you!

How do the rest of you handle it when someone wants to cheat off you? Tell us in the comments!