Welcome to Scam Academy, where you'll find stories of schemes and cheats from within the high schools and colleges of America. If you cheated and want to share how you did it and why, please email Senior Staff Writer Allie Conti: email@example.com.
Today we hear from a rising college senior in Pennsylvania who helped her mother take nursing courses online so her mom could work enough hours that she herself could afford school.
We immigrated from Zimbabwe when I was four. My parents had gone to universities in South Africa—my dad graduated with his master's in biology, and my mom did business. They couldn't transfer their degrees, but because they had two kids, starting school all over wasn't really a possibility for them right away. They started working minimum wage jobs. My dad worked at Burger King to put us through Catholic school. By the time they had saved enough money for one of them to go back to school, my mom was the one who had completed her GED.
There were some delays—her visa ran out, she had to go back to Zimbabwe, and she eventually got U.S. citizenship. After her seven-year battle with immigration, I was going to a private, expensive college, and she decided that she would become a registered nurse to help me pay for it. They had put all my housing on a credit card, and this was how they would start to pay it off.
She did her RN [registered nurse coursework] by herself with her friend—that's the clinical part you have to do that in person. After that, you can get additional certifications to boost your pay grade, though. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) portion, which consisted of a bunch of gen-ed classes, could be done completely online. She was constantly, constantly asking me, "How do I do this? How do I do that?" about basic computer tasks, like copying and pasting. I got tired of explaining the same things over and over, which led to me doing entire assignments and finally just entire classes like "Leadership in Nursing" for her.
Her classes were all set up the same way. They had a topic every week, and you had to write a discussion post about it while commenting on two other peoples'. It was just reading articles and textbooks—about 10 or 11 credits per semester—so I could do it on my school breaks. The posts built up to a final online presentation. It wasn't a really big deal for me to do it, and she was able to work more hours, and that was able to help me pay for my own apartment. The work was easy enough that she could do it herself, but at the end of the day, she'd done so much for me, why not just do this for her and let her rest?
My mom told my aunt that I had helped out, so then my aunt asked me to look over her coursework when she was doing her own BSN. She did her own discussion posts, but I did her other coursework for her. My mom graduated magna cum laude, and now she and my aunt are doing master’s programs in nursing at the same school.
It never really occurred to me that I was cheating until last December or January. My dad made some comment at the dinner table—that he hoped we never got caught. I don't think it had crossed my mind or my mom’s mind that there could be any consequences for this. I still didn't really feel guilt. This is what allowed the woman to sleep. Plus, the fact that somebody with no background in nursing could even take these upper-level classes is bizarre.
At the end of the day it comes down to this: With the amount of money that school costs, why would I let my mom pay that to fail these stupid courses that I could do in four weeks?
The above has been edited and condensed for clarity. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.