The professor walked to the front of the first Intro to Cheating class and turned to face the class.
“Good morning, class,” he said. “This is the first class of the new Cheating 101 class. As you probably all found out on Google, the university discovered that students were spending far more energy cheating on their assignments than actually studying. Since we wanted to promote a positive attitude and didn’t want to let this effort go to waste, the university created this course. Actually, I saw a Chinese university do it and I stole the idea.
“I’m not asking you to work hard, but you must still do all the assignments…or at least be able to hack into the system to change your grade. Whatever works for you.
“Now, a few points about the class. Cell phone use is permitted, but I will dock you a point for every time I notice. Also, it is forbidden to see the syllabus for this course, so I assume you’ll all figure out where to find it somehow. Tomorrow’s assignment is to not come to class, but still be marked present. And yes, I will be taking attendance.” With that, the professor turned and walked out.
Jared called his friend Rob, who was in the same class but hadn’t bothered to show up. “I think you’ll do fine in this course,” he said.
The next few weeks were a mixed bag of assignments they had to do, assignments they had to not do but make it seem like they had done and assignments that were given, Jared suspected, just to see if anyone would do them. Just before the third weekend of the course, the professor ordered them to de-grasshopper the quad by Monday. Jared paid a janitor five bucks to write a letter saying that he had done it. He got an A.
The final week approached and rumors began to spread about the final exam. One of the students had broken into the records office and stolen the syllabus to the course, so they all knew the final exam was worth 50% of their grade. A day before the final class, the professor did not show up. Instead, a courier appeared with a letter, gave it to Jared who was sitting next to the dosor, and left.
Jared read the letter, broke into a cold sweat, and then read it again. Finally, he stood up and read the letter aloud.
“Dear students,” he read. “I am not coming to class today, because I didn’t feel like it. Give me a bad performance review though and I’ll fail you all. Your final exam is tomorrow. I have looked at your transcript to see what you have studied and tomorrow I will put you in the final exam of an upper level course of a subject you have never studied before. The teacher does not know you are part of this course, but you will need to cheat to pass the test and pass this course. Don’t get caught if you want to pass this course.”
The next day Jared found himself in a class of ten students, staring at an Existential Trigonometry exam. Apparently it was about real numbers, but dealt with what it meant to be real and the point of not being imaginary numbers. Jared did not have a chance without cheating.
Using what he had learned in the course, Jared quickly stole the cell phone of the boy sitting next to him and gave him his instead. Then he texted his mom from the boy’s phone to say she had won the lottery. Predictably, she called him to tell she had won and the cellphone of the boy next to Jared rang.
“You have a cell phone?” the professor said to the boy. “You fail. Leave now.”
“But this isn’t even my—”
“Too bad. Get out.”
The boy left, confused and crestfallen, and a cute girl moved over next to Jared. Every few minutes during the test, Jared would slip her roses or small gifts that he had brought. The girl would smile and then, occasionally, pretend to stretch and show him her answers. Two exhausting hours later, Jared left with a completed test and the girl’s number, while she left with a garbage bag full of flowers and gifts.
“Well, it’s over,” Jared said to Rob later in their dorm room. “It wasn’t easy, but I think I passed. How did you do?”
“Oh, the final?” Rob glanced over from watching TV. “I paid the teacher a thousand dollars to tell our professor I passed the exam. I didn’t even show up for it.”
“You just paid him off?” Jared protested. “Well that’s not fair at all!”