It’s a bit of a loaded topic, but I’m gonna have to go ahead and say cheating isn’t really that bad.
Of course, there’s the obvious thing that you’re really only hurting yourself, so if you take it into your hands to harm your own development, while simultaneously risking expulsion from your university, w/e. There’s the grades are an indicator of talent which becomes less accurate as cheaters change the talent/grade measure, but it’s an argument full of holes, which I will gladly elaborate upon if anyone wishes.
Second, a lot of stuff in college is pretty stupid. As an econ major, I’ve taken boatloads of prereqs in a variety of topics only abstractly related to my discipline, arts, philosophy, physics, biology, literature, literary theory, history, archaeology, and chinese to name a few. Now, I can’t claim that I had no interest in all of these topics, but some of them I legitimately wanted to stab myself in the face during. They advanced my ability in no way whatsoever and were merely requirements I had to take in order to get this fancy shmancy degree. In these circumstances, do I think cheating is justified? Absofuckinglutely. I’m not harming my academic development, as a matter of fact I’m preventing my institution from wasting my time with irrelevant classes. While I’m on the topic, there’s another argument here about the worthwhileness of the entire college system in general. Except for specific instances such as law, medicine and engineering, college really is…a dodgy business. You learn so much you don’t need, and your employers only know that you have some intelligence and perseverance. Do they know if you know your shit? Nope, the degree doesn’t indicate that, they have to test you individually anyway. I advocate the CPA test solution, whereby disciplines test you in a manner similar to the CPA to determine your quality.
Third, cheating helps you think on your feet. I pulled some fast ones in my day, and I’m more satisfied with the effort I put into them than I am with a lot of the bullshit classes (note, not all classes are bullshit, not by a wide margin) I’ve taken. It developed my ability to think on my feet, multitask, and carry through on my plans.
I’ll close this longwinded post with a little clarification on my own experiences. I have cheated. I generally don’t anymore, as I have reached the level I only take classes I’m interested in, which makes cheating rather pointless. I don’t advocate cheating in important matters, but if you do, it’s a personal choice to tamper with your own future.