Please be honest... Am I doomed? (Academic Institutional Action)

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PandaMan436

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Hi guys, I'm just looking for some fully honest feedback on how ****ed I am. I am a senior that is going to graduate at the end of this semester and apply for the med school cycle in May and I am taking a gap year after graduating to pursue a year worth of research.

Now, 2 years ago in the first semester of my sophomore year, I plagiarized 1 question on a physics prelab assignment using a prelab from a previous semester and was caught for it. This was the only assignment in the class that I cheated on and as a result, I received a 0 for the assignment which brought my grade from an A to an A- and received a sanction from my school's board of academic integrity which stated that the sanction would remain in my records for 5 years. There were around 40 other students in the physics lab class who received the same sanction as a result of plagiarizing for the same prelab.

At this point, I have fully accepted that what I did was wrong and will definitely be reporting it on my med school app. I am planning on hopefully getting my school's committee letter to discuss the incident briefly to try and show that I have grown from the experience and understand my mistakes.

My question is: Is this going to completely destroy my app anyway? I know that cheating institutional actions are by far the worst but I want to know if there is any hope here. All the cheating institutional actions I have read about online are talking about large-scale exam cheating with consequences such as failing courses or being suspended from universities, but my situation involved cheating on a prelab assignment which was weekly homework given, so I'm wondering if this makes any difference.

Again, I understand that I really messed up here but is there any chance for redemption?

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I think it depends on who reads your app tbh. I would question it, but it certainly wouldn't completely be hopeless. I wouldn't dump you in the trash, it would just be a ding against you.

Hopefully you'll hear from some more experienced people though, I'm a youngster, and I tend to be too easy on people

To be clear, your life isn't over, and people have absolutely gotten into med school with similar IAs. But you'll get a more nuanced response from some more experienced SDNers.
 
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Could you explain this? How do 40 people plagiarize a question on a quiz?
It's not a quiz but a prelab which are essentially take-home assignments that we do and then bring to the physics lab to turn in. Essentially, they are homework assignments. 40 people were caught plagiarizing because many people, including myself, had access to the prelab assignment from previous semesters(through people that had already taken the course in the past) which had the same questions as the current semester's prelab except that the numbers were changed slightly which is how I was caught.
 
It's not a quiz but a prelab which are essentially take-home assignments that we do and then bring to the physics lab to turn in. Essentially, they are homework assignments. 40 people were caught plagiarizing because many people, including myself, had access to the prelab assignment from previous semesters(through people that had already taken the course in the past) which had the same questions as the current semester's prelab except that the numbers were changed slightly which is how I was caught.
I'm still missing information to understand it is plagiarism and not cheating. Also, as a take home exam, why is accessing old prelab assignments prohibited? How was this communicated to the class? If the numbers were wrong, why was the answer marked incorrect? Did every one of the 40 students copy the same answers and numbers (or just changed numbers randomly)? What security was placed on these take home exams?

How does the record of your infraction describe the situation? You must make sure your statement does not deviate from the official sanction. Get help and keep a copy if the report and your IA essay writeup, even if it gets expunged. Your prehealth committee needs these details too.
 
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I'm still missing information to understand it is plagiarism and not cheating. Also, as a take home exam, why is accessing old prelab assignments prohibited? How was this communicated to the class? If the numbers were wrong, why was the answer marked incorrect? Did every one of the 40 students copy the same answers and numbers (or just changed numbers randomly)? What security was placed on these take home exams?
The old prelab assignments that were used to copy answers were from students who had taken the class in previous semesters and had saved their prelabs. So, we are not supposed to have any access to this information. Each student received an email at the beginning of the semester stating that copying work from other students or from labs from the previous semester would result in an academic integrity violation. Every student did copy the same answers and numbers since they believed that was the correct answer to the question because they did not realize that this semesters prelab had changed the numbers slightly. So, the professor is able to see that for this semesters prelab, students are putting all the numbers and answers of last semesters prelab even though they should have no knowledge of those numbers or answers since the numbers in the current prelab are different, which makes it evident that plagiarism occurred.

Sorry if I'm not explaining this well as it is quite a confusing situation. Also, as a side note, is there a difference in punishment severity between plagiarism and cheating? I assumed that these were one in the same in terms of being reported on medical school applications.
 
Also, as a side note, is there a difference in punishment severity between plagiarism and cheating? I assumed that these were one in the same in terms of being reported on medical school applications.
Academic integrity professionals are specific with terminology and context. In general terms, plagiarizing is passing off someone else's work as your own without proper credit or attribution, especially for term papers and dissertations (Claudine Gay row, for example). Cheating is a more general term about unauthorized assistance, like you cannot use chatbot help to submit your computer code for an assignment.

Since past students don't publish their homework assignments, I don't think of it as plagiarism. But if your conduct office says it is, I need the details and rationale.

The fact that 40 students also did this for the same assignment is also curious.

It gets worse if you had additional actions showing intent. Like paying a paper mill to write your paper.

To your original questions, there are definitely worse sanctions that would likely rule you out. That said, your own situation affirms the perception that most undergraduates find a way to "collaborate" improperly and find no remorse if they don't get caught. Especially during COVID.

Were the former students sanctioned for providing assistance?
 
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Academic integrity professionals are specific with terminology and context. In general terms, plagiarizing is passing off someone else's work as your own without proper credit or attribution, especially for term papers and dissertations (Claudine Gay row, for example). Cheating is a more general term about unauthorized assistance, like you cannot use chatbot help to submit your computer code for an assignment.

Since past students don't publish their homework assignments, I don't think of it as plagiarism. But if your conduct office says it is, I need the details and rationale.

The fact that 40 students also did this for the same assignment is also curious.

It gets worse if you had additional actions showing intent. Like paying a paper mill to write your paper.

To your original questions, there are definitely worse sanctions that would likely rule you out. That said, your own situation affirms the perception that most undergraduates find a way to "collaborate" improperly and find no remorse if they don't get caught. Especially during COVID.

Were the former students sanctioned for providing assistance?
Ok, so the letter from my conduct office states that this was marked as a cheating offense and provided the reason that "In the lab period of Fall 2021, forty five students submitted an assignment that had Pre-lab Question (1) answers mostly identical to the correct answers of the previous lab assignments in Spring 2021, Fall 2020, Spring 2020, or Spring 2019... in any case, they did not work on the assignments themselves".

Many of the former students were sanctioned for providing assistance, however, I find it hard to believe that there weren't some that assisted in the process and got away with it.
 
This is Academic Dishonesty (opposite of Academic Integrity) and it is more along the lines of "cheating" than "Plagiarism" although it is the presentation of one's work as if it were your own. Whatever way you label it, you need to own it, describe it as a lesson learned, and move on. I would not vote to let it derail an applicant's prospects of admission.
 
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He changed them enough to catch the cheaters. ;)
You'd think the former students would warn the current students... 45 people??? How many got caught in the past terms? (Does the professor have a record? Rate my professor isn't popular anymore?)

It's definitely a great "speed trap."
 
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