A new breed of cheating: skipping class to get extra time

Christine Chapelle, Photography Editor

As students at Liberty know, time is one of their most important resources. One of the main things students struggle with is fitting what feels like 36 hours of work into a 24 hour day. So, does skipping classes to avoid deadlines constitute cheating?
To me, cheating is any action that gives one student an unfair advantage over another. If a student skips a class to have more time to complete an assignment than other students, without prior consent from his teacher, he is taking an unfair advantage.
One popular way to get a deadline extended, or to give oneself extra work time during the time when he would normally be in class, is to take a “mental health day.” I will be the first to admit I have taken more than one “mental health day” in my time at Liberty. At the time, it seemed like the best option to cope with stress. But it really only gave me a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Unfortunately, I don’t have a better solution to stress other than learning how to stop procrastinating (and we all know how well an awareness of procrastination works to counter it. Spoiler: it doesn’t).
Most students would not consider taking a “mental health day” to be a form a cheating, but it does give one student an advantage over others. Some teachers are sympathetic, recognizing that teenagers are often managing a full-course load with demanding extracurriculars. Other teachers become frustrated when students skip class, forcing them to find time in their own busy schedules to arrange for a make-up.
Besides being a form of cheating in my opinion, taking a “mental health day” is more than a minor inconvenience for teachers: it’s disrespectful.
Social studies teacher Amy Cooke feels there are justifiable reasons to skip, but the line can be crossed when a student is disrespectful to his peers by taking an unfair advantage (like skipping on a test day) or prioritizing one class’s work over another’s.
“If you are going to skip, do it right and get yourself all the way off campus for the day,” Cooke said.
I don’t have a solution to completing all work on time, but I do have some advice: mental health days aren’t necessarily impermissible, but be aware of the effects of your actions and consider their impact on the entire classroom. Be thankful that your teachers are so forgiving in high school, but be prepared: in college, the size of your safety net will greatly diminish.