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Contents Under Pressure Who should write a student’s college essay?

what to write about and knows that, even if he did, he couldn’t effectively communicate his thoughts. With time running out, he

approaches fellow Tiger Patrol member Josh Walser (who has already been accepted to an in-state public university) with a simple proposition: Write the essay, and I’ll give you $100. Bronson hates to cheat, but he believes he has no choice.

For Discussion In trying to solve his problem, Bronson has created an ethical dilemma for his friend as well as for himself. To clarify the discussion, invite your Scouts or Venturers to put themselves in each character’s place as they answer the following questions:

For Josh, the Friend fWould it be cheating if Bronson used an essay you wrote as his own? Why or why not?

THE COLD WAR MIGHT be finished, but there’s a new arms race underway. Eager to get into America’s most- selective colleges, high-schoolers are beefing up their résumés with more and more extracurriculars, hiring consultants to help with college appli- cations and doing everything they can to boost their grade-point averages. For many, a 4.0 GPA is no longer

good enough; students take honors or Advanced Placement courses that give them “weighted” GPAs of 4.5 or higher. Given this pressure, it’s no sur- prise that some students cheat. Use this fictional ethical dilemma

with your Scouts to explore the gray area between helping a friend and cheating on his behalf.


The Dilemma Since he was a child, Bronson McLean has dreamed of attending Princeton University. He has decorated his bedroom with Princeton parapherna- lia. His school locker sports Princeton Tigers bumper stickers. And he even persuaded the other members of his Boy Scout patrol to call themselves the Tigers instead of the Sharks. Bronson has a 4.24 GPA, great

SAT scores and a solid résumé. But he lacks one thing: the ability to write persuasively. When he learns that the Princeton application requires a 500- word essay on “an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world,” he panics. He has no idea

fWould it matter if he had asked you to write the essay because you’re his friend instead of offer- ing you $100? Why or why not?

fIf you accept Bronson’s offer, are you being complicit in his cheat- ing? After all, you’re not the one trying to get into Princeton. Why or why not?

fIf you turn down Bronson’s offer, how might that affect your friend- ship? Should that matter in your decision? Why or why not?

fIf you turn down Bronson’s offer, he hasn’t technically cheated yet — although he might find

FIND MORE ETHICS discussions at


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