College students have grown up learning that it is not necessary to reach goals by hard work; there are more convenient ways to reach their goals. Convenience theory proposes that some students cheat because it is more convenient for them to cheat, it is the easiest path for them to achieve good grades, and they are predisposed to taking the easy way to achieve goals. It is more convenient for some students to cheat than for them to do the work necessary to attain good grades.
Convenience theory can be compared to the style function that is available in any top-end computer word processor. A style is a collection of attributes, such as bold, underline, font, etc., that a user can apply to a character, word, sentence, paragraph, page, or to the entire document. Any number of styles can be created for use in a document, but each style is related to a base style, such as a particular font. If the font in the base style is changed, it affects all the other styles that are related to the base style. Convenience theory is analogous to a base style. It is an underlying theory contained in many of the previous theories that have attempted to explain why people commit crime. No matter how any one of these theories attempts to explain why people commit crime, the one underlying reason an individual commits a crime at any point in time is that it is the most convenient thing to do at that time, place, and circumstance. Convenience theory does not disagree with these other theories—it underlies each of them and ties them all together (see Figure 1).