On Cheating, Engineering and Millenials
On Cheating, Engineering and Millenials
I'll explain my problems as well as I can.
I was always the youngest guy in my class from primary school to my first year in my first university. I was usually two/three years younger than the 2nd youngest person, because I was put into school at 2. You can imagine how I was always considered the baby by my classmates.
In my first year in university, I made a lot of mistakes. I thought that campus life was just like high school life - that as long as I did my exams, I'd be alright and go on to the next year (I placed 8th in my high school exam, out of 220 kids. Being in the 4th percentile can give you a big head sometimes.). I didn't know about hard work, and about seeing projects through. Only when I almost got kicked out did I seriously start studying.
After 3 years there, I eventually left because of quite a lot of issues that I'd be belabouring myself with if I were to explain them here, and transferred to another university in a rural part of my country. My thoughts then were - hey, this is a fresh start for me. I've lived almost all my life in a city with traffic jams and all that, I've been swamped with supplementary exams (I don't know what you guys call them where you are? Retakes?) for courses I'd probably get kicked out off, I can finally leave my Mom's helicopter hover radius :) and make my own decisions... this new university ain't so bad!
The moment I got my student ID, I dove into my books like nothing else. In my life, I don't think I've ever studied like I have been doing these past two years. I've been doing my assignments on time, finishing up lab reports days before they're due (TBH, 2 or 3 days, at least), truthfully providing proper references for all my work... and not cheating in exams or in my CATs. Another difference is that I'm not the youngest any more - I'm actually the 2nd eldest fella in my class. The median age is about 3 years less than mine.
And herein lie the problems: 1) of late, my school hasn't been sticking to its honour code, and 2) I feel that I was born in the wrong generation.
Cheating is rampant among my current classmates. The reason why is kinda complicated to explain, but lemme try. In my previous university, I got into the engineering program after doing my national secondary school exams of 2009. Where I am, currently, I'm in the same class as people who did their exams in 2014. Higher education is(was/is again) a meritocracy in Kenya, and for you to get into a polytechnic/college/university you list down in a particular order what you wanna study and the uni's you selected are notified by the nation's Joint Admissions Board that you'd like to join them. If your grade in the secondary school exam passes the uni's cut, you get called. If it doesn't, you can try again. STEM programmes are usually reserved for the high achievers. So, back to my problems - between 2012 and 2015, there were lots of leakages of the national exams, and as you might have guessed, there were lots of "high" grades, and lots of people got called to do engineering, even though a lot of them didn't deserve it. It's been stopped now, and the freshers (freshmen?) of this academic year are gonna be here because they deserve it, but what kind of damage has already been done? You then get a situation where people cheat because they know that they'd get really low marks even if they studied, and those who truly deserve to be here have started cheating because everyone else is doing it. The class' first year exam results didn't even fit a normal distribution.
So here I am, in a class with lots of people younger than me who just cheat cheat cheat. Most of my peers have already graduated (had I done well the first time, I'd have graduated in 2015) and are now working, my one true friend who is also an engineering student is on the other side of the country, and he's graduating this year (what will that mean for our friendship?), and here I am, stuck with millenials who can't even use all the resources that we have today to make campus life better for themselves.
You know that joke? "In engineering school, you have 3 choices: proper sleep, a good social life, good grades - pick 2." It helps me no bit that I chose good sleep and good grades, because people see me as that creepy guy who keeps to himself and doesn't talk about shitty shittity shit like sports betting, the latest fashion, current "music", the latest new "musician", mobile games, mindless apps and get-rich-quick schemes, who won't give them my assignments and lab reports to copy (I mean, if you wanna cheat, at least change a few things here and there. They copy-pasted my ENTIRE work word-for-word the few times I've done it. Didn't even change my sentence structure. ????).
I'm a huge fan of music, and have a 1,500-album collection. All genres, all artistes, all decades... as long as it's music, I'll listen to it. I have to say that it's getting more and more difficult to find good music as the years go by. Why? I don't know, but I recently read somewhere that the reason we think music from long ago was the greatest is because we only remember the good music from long ago. I try to use that to counter feeling that I was born in the wrong generation. But honestly, if I think about it, I'm embarrassed to be a millenial. All these communication methods we have, yet we're lacking in social skills. The whole internet at our fingertips, yet research is difficult for most people (just look at the Reddit sub for engineering students [that's reddit.com/r/engineeringstudents] for example, where most people ask the same mundane questions day in day out). People want to be given prizes just for having been in a competition; should we lower the bar for millenials because nobody's tall enough or no-one can jump high enough? Should we say that a 10kg barbell is 20kg because nobody can carry it, then award everyone equal prizes, including the few who managed to carry 9kg? When did competition become wrong? Why is the society I'm in sissified?
So... I feel like I was born too late to explore new corners of the earth, and too early to explore space. Why was I born at this time? I just want to be a good engineer in a properly-functioning society - that is a society that stands to its beliefs, be they conservative, be they progressive. But today, everyone's mad - the left is mad, the right is mad.
I was reading a thread here where one guy (I've forgotten who) said he's working with millenials, and they (the millenials) think that the instructions he sends them are verbose; they keep writing tl;dr. It made me sad.
There's this story called The King and the Poisoned Well (I'm not good at retelling stories and won't try to do that here, so you should just look it up). Should I just stop resisting and drink the poison?
Those who know how to use a slide rule, am I worrying too much? Was engineering school then the same as now - were people just as lazy then?
Does it get better? When I graduate and start work, will I meet engineers who know what they're doing, or will it just be the same thing that's happening here?
How do I let go of all this stress?
THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.
The EAC - One People, One Destiny... One Federation.