Stress to Success: Managing Personal Challenges to Improve Academic Honesty

Stress to Success: Managing Personal Challenges to Improve Academic Honesty


It is often assumed that academic dishonesty happens when students want a short cut to high grades or aren’t willing to work hard. However, the truth can be far more complex.

Sometimes, dishonest academic practices are the result of the pressures of college life and the challenges of moving to a new country. In this case, teachers, peers, and college services play a vital role in helping students overcome personal challenges so that they can succeed academically. Let’s take a closer look at some of these challenges and how FCT can help.

Stress & Lack of Self-confidence

Problem: Moving to a new country, adapting to a new culture, studying for exams – all of this can be stressful and impact self-confidence. Stress might make students feel that they don’t have the time or energy to succeed without cheating. A lack of self-confidence might make them feel that they won’t be able to perform well on exams, assignments, or presentations, driving them to copy the work of other or even hire someone to do their homework.

Solution: If stress or other mental health issues are interfering with a student’s academic performance, they can contact to access a variety of helpful services and resources. There is always a solution.

Poor Time Management

Problem: For many students, their time at college marks their first experience being away from home. This means that in addition to studying and attending class, they also must learn to cook, clean, and do the laundry. These tasks demand time management skills.

A student might feel that they don’t have time to study because of everything else on their to-do list. They might feel that their situation is unfair. And when someone feels that they are being treated unfairly, they might feel that they are justified in cheating.

Solution: Time management can be learned just like any other skill, enabling students to complete their chores and assignments with time to spare. To get help with developing this skill, students can reach out to an academic advisor at

Accidental Plagiarism

Problem: Believe it or not, cheating can happen by accident. This is often due to a misunderstanding of what cheating entails, and in particular, a misunderstanding of plagiarism.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, plagiarism is “the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.”

Sounds simple enough? Well, identifying plagiarism can actually get quite complicated due to the many forms that it can take. Here are a few examples:

  • Paraphrasing Plagiarism: This happens when a writer copies a sentence from another source, change a few words, and does not add a reference to the original work.
  • Mosaic Plagiarism: This involves copying sentences from multiple sources and fitting them together into paragraphs.
  • Source-based Plagiarism: This is when a writer includes references and citations in their essay, but their cited passage contains different information than the cited sources.

Solution: Instructors and academic advisors can help students better understand plagiarism. If a student has not learned to use quotations, paraphrasing, and reference, FCT’s library staff can help. To connect with them, email


Students face multifaceted challenges on their academic journey, such as adapting to a new environment, managing time effectively, and understanding the nuances of academic integrity. Sometimes, these challenges can lead to dishonest academic practices.

It is vital that educators learn to recognize these challenges and how they impact academic performance of their students. Doing so will go a long way towards helping them succeed.

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