Dear Jackie

Dear Jack,

How are you, Kiddo? What’s it like being an only child? Nick left for college last year and Daniel and I left this year, so within twelve months, you went from being the youngest of four kids to being an only child! Daniel, Nick and I were always in school together, so there was always someone to watch out for me. That also meant that with any slip up, Mom and Dad were sure to find out. Things are going to be different for you. When you attend high school next year, you’re going to have to monitor yourself. You’ll be inclined to fall victim to many different temptations. I’m not worried about you getting involved with the kids at parties trying to experiment; Mom and Dad have been conditioning you to be strong and say no since you came out of the womb, and you know that Daniel, Nick and I will kick your butt if we find out that you drink. With that being said, you may not be as familiar with the temptation to cheat.

Academic dishonesty can range anywhere from copying homework to peeking at your neighbor’s paper on a test. I read an article, called “The Shadow Scholar”, about a man that gets paid to write students’ papers for them. They contact him with an assignment, and he writes without pause for hours at a time. This man goes by Dante, though his real name is unknown. Dante doesn’t even care that the students take credit for all of the writing that he does for them because he ends up earning $66,000 every year. One time, a girl asked him to write a seventy-five page paper in one week, and he did it, no problem. He has written so many papers that he barely has to think anymore. His fingers hit the keyboard, and the words just flow out onto the page.

Long papers take a ton of research, time, and organization, and rich kids are just too lazy. It’s even harder for kids who learn English as a second language, so they are willing to pay him, too. It’s horrifying that people buy their grades instead of earning them. You are at school to learn, and cheating, especially on this scale, cannot sustain you. It’s so expensive to buy the paper, and in the mean time, you’re compromising your integrity and morals. Think about this: one day, you’re taking a test and the answer to a question slips your mind; you know you studied it and can picture the answer to the question in your notes, but you cannot recall the information to save your life. Sitting right next to you is a future Princeton graduate… Resist the temptation! I’m begging you. It’s better to sacrifice one point than to sacrifice your integrity. What if you get caught? You’ll fail the assignment and be forced to attend a disciplinary council meeting. Colleges take cheating very seriously, and by cheating to gain one extra point on a test, you could be sacrificing an acceptance to your dream university. I’ve met kids that cheat more than they do their own work and never get caught. You may gain confidence that since they cheat all the time, if you cheat once, everything will be completely fine. That may be the case, but who knows? Kids are caught weekly, and it could be you.

You’re so bright, and you can make such an amazing future for yourself as long as you work hard. Be true to yourself and do what you know is right. You’ll find that learning to work diligently and efficiently will sustain you much longer than cheating. When you cheat, you can only be as good as the people around you, so you’ll never be able to reach your full potential.

I love you so much! I can’t wait to see you when I’m home. Only seventeen more days!



One thought on “Dear Jackie


    Very well done. At times, you slide into evaluative language that might not be meaningful to a kid (or a lot of people, for that matter): for example, what does it mean to work efficiently? It might be more effective to lay out some concrete ideas, such as “No TV until you’ve finished your homework.”


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