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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week we hear from a college junior who befriended her teachers to get through high school.
I went to a farming high school in New England where we'd learn how to groom dogs and cats right alongside math and English class. Freshman and sophomore year was easy, but junior year everyone started having to make group chats to send test answers back and forth to each other. I decided to take matters into my own hands as it came time to buckle down for college, because some of the answers we got in those chats weren't correct. I came up with the scheme that would ultimately get me into college around the summer before my senior year: I became really good friends with my teachers.
I got the idea when I was working at a movie theater. My bosses weren't that much older than I was, and I'd get really close with them and they would tell me the latest drama when we'd hang outside of work. Basically, I would use this as leverage to persuade them to put me on better shifts. I was a little bit manipulative, but I didn't abuse that for better pay. I just wanted to sleep in and stuff like that.
When I applied this to my academic career, I started with my history and sociology teacher. Because I had her for two classes, we already saw each other multiple times a day. She got distracted very easily, and one day it came up in class that she had a lot of problems at home—her husband was sick and maybe going to lose his job, she had twins in college and was afraid that she would no longer be able to afford for them to go. I went and talked to her during study hall, and every day from there on I would ask her how everything was going. She didn't seem to have any friends, so when she realized I would listen to what she had to say, she just let everything spill out.
I feel bad that she was such an easy target, but she ended up trusting me more than she should have. She gave me her phone number and we would text. I did little errands for her. I was in her classroom all the time, and when she'd step out, I'd rummage through her desks and find her answer keys, take pictures of them, and set them as the background of my phone. During tests, I'd have the phone on my lap.
After that, I realized how easy it was to manipulate these lonely teachers, so I moved on to my AP Econ teacher and a couple of others. I figured out what clubs they'd be hosting, and even if I wasn't actually interested in that club, I would just go. They would put me in charge of the activities and therefore leave me in their classrooms with all the other students. Ultimately, I did that for four of my seven classes—the other three were easy.
Halfway through the year—when I started to realize just how bad my history and sociology teacher's life really was—that's when I started to feel guilty. But while I cheated, it's not like I cheated any one person. It was actually a win-win situation: she got someone to talk to, and I got either a full ride or a ton of scholarships to all seven of the schools I applied for. I'm still in touch with that one teacher. She and I go get lunch sometimes, and I feel so bad. I could never tell her about how or why we became friends.
Meanwhile, it's kind of biting me in the ass now, because I have no idea what I’m doing academically.
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.
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