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APPLICATION DILEMMA - Academic Misconduct


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Hi everyone! This is my first post on a forum so I really hope I'm posting in the correct place/not repeating a question! 

So here it goes... Sophomore year I got in trouble with the University for academic misconduct. The misconduct was over a homework assignment in a class that I had already completed. My friend had a few questions about formatting since it was an online class, so I sent one of my old homework's as an example. Long story short she accidentally turned in my assignment (with my name on it and everything) instead of the one she said she completed on her own. I know it wasn't an exam or anything but the whole situation looked really bad and I understand that cheating is cheating. The sanction doesn't show up on my transcript and everything else shows that I'm in "Good Academic Standing" since I completed a course required by the University and have kept a clean record since the incident, but I know that the case isn't completely expunged from my record... so if any PA programs were to contact the school asking for my records they would be able to see the report. 

I have not only learned my lesson, but I have also learned the true meaning of integrity and I'm truly embarrassed by my actions. This incidence is something that has caused me so much anxiety that I even postponed applying last cycle because I wasn't sure how to handle it on the CASPA app. I firmly believe that honesty is the best policy, so of course I would check the "yes" on CASPA where it asks about academic issues, but I was wondering if that would kind of automatically knock me out from getting interviews with programs? I'm just terrified that I no longer have a chance.

I've also been going back and forth with how I should approach the application... should I ask the head of academic affairs if they would be willing to write one of my letters of recommendation to support my case or would that just call more attention to the issue? I also know CASPA provides a small box to explain anything but I'm not sure if I should try to fit everything there or just check "yes" and hope I get an interview and that I can explain myself there in person? This is something that keeps me up at night... so any advice would be great! Especially from anyone who has been on the admission side.  

Thank you for your help and good luck to everyone applying! 

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As already mentioned, these sort of things aren't usually just exclusive without a chance for reasonable explanation. My advice would be to apply, check "yes", explain as concisely as you can with an added "wiling to further elaborate if requested" and when invited for interviews, bring a copy of that LOR supporting your case on your school's letterhead and offer it to the interviewer when the topic comes up. I would not submit that LOR as part of your 5 LORs, however.

 

Hope that helps, and good luck.

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With all due respect, it sounds like from your story that you did very little wrong. If I understand correctly, you shared an old assignment with a friend so they could get some pointers on formatting. They proceeded to put their name on it (wtf???) and turn it in as their own work. When you say things like you've grown or you've learned about the importance of integrity, it's perplexing. Is this more to this story?

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3 hours ago, Palurker said:

With all due respect, it sounds like from your story that you did very little wrong. If I understand correctly, you shared an old assignment with a friend so they could get some pointers on formatting. They proceeded to put their name on it (wtf???) and turn it in as their own work. When you say things like you've grown or you've learned about the importance of integrity, it's perplexing. Is this more to this story?

He actually stated in the OP that the person he gave his assignment to *accidentally* turned in his actual assignment with his name still on it.

I was also a little confused by the intense self-reflection OP made after this incident- it sounds like the friend of yours royally, royally messed up and caused 100% of all blow-back consequence. If your intentions were truly innocent in that you were lending framework support and not content support, I don't understand the need for "learning about integrity" from this. I feel almost if you explain yourself in this way, OP, adcoms will also be inclined to believe there is more to the story you are letting on by unanimously accepting responsibility for the "rightful" cheating accusations.

The only thing I can think of is that even formatting advice would be considered cheating and this was somehow made clear on a rubric concerning the assignment. If you intentionally still disregarded this heeded warning, then yes, this would definitely be a case of personal cheating.

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1 hour ago, mmchick said:

He actually stated in the OP that the person he gave his assignment to *accidentally* turned in his actual assignment with his name still on it.

I was also a little confused by the intense self-reflection OP made after this incident- it sounds like the friend of yours royally, royally messed up and caused 100% of all blow-back consequence. If your intentions were truly innocent in that you were lending framework support and not content support, I don't understand the need for "learning about integrity" from this. I feel almost if you explain yourself in this way, OP, adcoms will also be inclined to believe there is more to the story you are letting on by unanimously accepting responsibility for the "rightful" cheating accusations.

The only thing I can think of is that even formatting advice would be considered cheating and this was somehow made clear on a rubric concerning the assignment. If you intentionally still disregarded this heeded warning, then yes, this would definitely be a case of personal cheating.

More or less my thoughts as well.

OP we are random internet people. Be honest if there's more to it and you might get more useful feedback. I promise I won't judge lol

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Ahhh okay okay I'll give the full explanation... I'm sorry I wasn't upfront in the beginning I'm just extremely ashamed/embarrassed of the whole situation. I appreciate the no judgement and I really do need all the advice I can get! @Palurker @mmchick

So pretty much 1st semester sophomore year I was in a gen ed class that required a short 1-2 page research assignment. I was talking to one of my friends about it and she said that it was super easy and offered to email me a copy of hers. At the time I honestly wasn't thinking about how similar my assignment was to hers I was mindlessly typing and trying to get it done. Within a few days I received an email from the academic integrity office stating that my professor had filed a report of academic misconduct since my assignment was so similar to another student's. I was in total shock and immediately went to compare the two assignments... looking at the two side by side I could see that I was guilty of plagiarism. I was given the opportunity to meet with my professor face to face to discuss the situation. I'm pretty sure my whole body was shaking because I was so terrified to meet with him but I knew that what I did was wrong and I admitted to my mistake. I received a 0 on the assignment and a warning from the university. I was lucky to receive a warning.  

After that experience I had learned my lesson that academic integrity was important no matter how big or small the assignment is and had a new outlook on my own personal integrity when it comes to every day situations. Then second semester sophomore year is when the second incident mentioned in the OP happened. I truly was letting her see my assignment for formatting purposes and she did royally mess up by accidentally submitting my assignment. Since I had gotten in trouble with academic misconduct already I knew how serious it was and had no intention of ever cheating again but since I had already gotten in trouble before the situation looked bad and I received a sanction instead of a warning this time. Since I took the required course I was able to get the notation removed from my transcript but after having a meeting with the head of academic affairs they said that the incident wasn't completely expunged from my records. 

I can honestly admit to plagiarism from the first incident and am so embarrassed for my actions but the second incident I was truly trying to help a friend with how to set up the assignment and happened to get burned because of my previous record. So with that being said do you guys have any advice on how to approach the application process? 

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@craw1794 Okay so this is definitely a different story than how it was perceived in the OP.

 

From a strict neutral observation, it actually does not seem that you did truly learn from your first mistake because you would think that if you were written off with a warning from the first incident, you wouldn't dare come near anything remotely related to collaborating/sharing with other classmates (as you did the second time). The reason I say this is because this is how I perceived your whole situation, and now this might be how an adcom might view it if they learn about the situation. To me, it doesn't seem that you showed growth and maturation from the first incident given that you basically did a watered down version the second time. I'm being honest when I'm saying this might be something very hard to explain to adcoms in terms of how you've really learned this second time that sharing any assignment ever, for any reason, is never okay (unless specified by the professor).

My advice still stays the same by having a copy of a letter from an advisor who will write one, but you're going to have to really dig deep (I know cliche to say as everyone says this here), but seriously dig deep, and come up with some logical explanation of how you will show/have shown you reject any form of unauthorized academic collaboration. Honestly, is it possible to serve on an academic honor court at all in your current situation? This might be a practical way to show that you're serious about it now and are actively involved in deterring other students from cheating.

Maybe think along those lines of a creative way that shows you really are working against any forms of academic cheating that you can put on paper and use as a form of proof you won't be getting yourself in these 2 situations again.

Best of luck.

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