ARMEY: The Boring Truth is Most Students Use Resources Like Chegg Correctly

News stories tend to fall into two categories: Those that cover mainstream events, and those that highlight rare occurrences. A recent article involving a University of Texas student caught my attention because it fell into the latter category. This article detailed an account of an alleged online scammer extorting a student after he tried to use the website to cheat. It’s not quite clear what happened, but the article then links this to the larger issue of improper use of online products and tools—tools which many students like me rely on.

As a student myself who uses Chegg for study purposes, I found this story striking. At the end of 2020, over 4.4 million students held a subscription to Chegg. While the article demonstrated there are indeed students who use online resources like Chegg to cheat, I’d venture to say this number is few and far between. (Of this tiny pool, I’ve never heard any claim or story that any were extorted for it.)

One reason students don’t want to use Chegg improperly, as highlighted in the aforementioned article, is Chegg’s willingness to work with colleges and universities to address any form of academic dishonesty occurring on their platform. The company has made it clear it does not tolerate cheating and its purpose is to provide supplemental study support to those students who need it most. Your reporting misses how many students need these products and focuses on the ‘bad apples’ who abuse them.

This type of support is particularly helpful to students who are struggling to reach their professors outside of the classroom, such as non-traditional students who are working full-time jobs or raising children while attending classes. These students operate under severely limited time constraints, and rarely have time to attend traditional faculty office hours.

Chegg, along with other online resources like Quizlet and Brainly, provides students with the ability to receive academic support outside of the classroom in a way that works for them. These tools can be used whenever and wherever students need them, providing much-needed access and flexibility.

Given the current economic landscape, this type of help is as necessary as it has ever been. As a country, we are facing a variety of challenges as a result of the ongoing pandemic, one of which is the massive disruption experienced by our education system. Experts estimate the learning lost as a result of the pandemic could significantly reduce students’ lifetime earnings, in addition to costing our country’s economy more than  every year. 

In order to overcome this learning deficit, both academic institutions and students alike must be able to use every tool in their tool belt. Online resources are one of these tools, with the potential to play a key role in allowing students to make up lost ground and attain academic success.

Unfortunately, as this recent article showed, there is a negative stigma surrounding the use of these resources, and some faculty members and administrators at academic institutions across the country wrongly assume the product they provide is cheating.

This is a problematic view to have of tools that, when used correctly, can provide struggling students with support they desperately need. Every day, millions of students access online resources properly and use them to supplement their education, study more effectively, and take full advantage of their academic experience.

Articles that latch onto outlier cases, such as this recent one regarding cheating and extortion, often choose not to cover the more mundane aspects of these situations. After all, there isn’t much fun to be had writing or reading about the students who use online resources correctly every day and rely on them to supplement the instruction they receive outside the classroom. However, that is the boring reality for millions of students like me, who use resources like Chegg to help achieve academic success.

Alix Armey is a sophomore at Texas A&M pursuing a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

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