The New York Times notes cheating scandals have erupted at prestigious schools in recent months, including Harvard University, the Air Force Academy and Stuyvesant High School in New York City
The newspaper also cites studies that reveal a majority of students violate academic ethics to some degree, and top students are no more immune than others. And the cheating is getting worse, experts say, because it's easier to do with the advent of the Internet and is more widely tolerated. Schools and parents have failed to lay down the law.
"I don't think there's any question that students have become more competitive, under more pressure, and, as a result, tend to excuse more from themselves and other students, and that's abetted by the adults around them," Donald L. McCabe, a professor at the Rutgers University Business School and leading researcher on cheating, told the Times.
"There have always been struggling students who cheat to survive. But more and more, there are students at the top who cheat to thrive."
David M. Wasieleski of Duquesne University says students are "surprisingly unclear about what constitutes plagiarism or cheating."
"The ethical muscles have atrophied," he said, in part because society prizes success regardless of how it is achieved.
"We want to be famous and successful, we think our colleagues are cutting corners, we'll be damned if we'll lose out to them, and some day, when we've made it, we'll be role models. But until then, give us a pass," he said is often the prevailing attitude.