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Common App Essay Example #6

Prompt #3: Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

Sitting outside of the principal’s office, my stomach lurched and my palms felt sweaty. I wasn’t about to get in trouble; in fact, the situation was the exact opposite. I sat there waiting to report what had just happened in my history class.

90 minutes earlier, I arrived at class to discover we had a substitute teacher for the period. Admittedly, I felt a moment of relief at the thought of a less taxing lesson than usual. Some of my classmates thought the same thing, but chose to express it a little more vocally. Slamming his fist on the teacher’s desk, the substitute responded by screaming to be heard over the din of the class. Everyone quickly quieted down at the sudden outburst. The substitute then proceeded to have everyone copy notes from the projector in absolute silence. This alone is not uncommon, but his yelling matches continued at the slightest whisper from students. He slammed textbooks and yelled angrily, something none of us had ever witnessed at school before.

After what felt like a lifetime, the bell finally rang. The substitute left the room first, and in a rare act of solidarity, we students lingered behind to discuss what had happened. Once the initial shock wore off, everyone decided that we should report the substitute to the principal so that other kids didn’t have the same experience. It felt odd turning the tables and reporting an adult for bad behavior, but my peers and I saw no other option.

My friend and I volunteered to go because we both had an elective class the next period. As we waited to be called into our principal’s office, I began to replay the events in my head and wonder if they had really happened or if perhaps we had exaggerated them. But there was no denying it: the substitute had acted far too aggressively. When it was finally time to relay the facts to the principal, she was not entirely surprised. Other teachers had noticed that substitute acting rude in the break room, but no student had yet come forth with any details of his behavior in class. I suppose everyone had just assumed that someone else would report the problem. I’m proud that my classmates and I stepped up and took the initiative so that other students were not subjected to a class led by an erratic substitute.