How I got caught This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 25, 2009
By , Gaithersburg, MD
I turned around and saw Mr. Summer reaching to the trash can and picking out the essay grading rubric that I tossed in. My heart skipped a beat.

Earlier that day I found my way to a reclusive group sitting at a corner of the library, who happened to be discussing that day's test with answers printed out from the CollegeBoard website. As the crowd dispersed after learning the solutions, I held the rubric in my hand feeling glad that have saved hours of dreadful studying. But later as I sat in class with the essay prompt before me, the same rubric was in Mr. Summer's hand, and I was glad no more.

I got caught.

My hand trembled across the paper as I jogged down the twisted letters. I knew my answers were correct, but I also knew that my actions were wrong. Maybe I shouldn't have kept the rubric. Maybe I should have shoved it in my backpack. Or maybe, I should have studied last night. Though I suffered the consequences, but in retrospect, I am glad that I got caught.

When I landed on this culturally different country at the age of 12 from China, I wished to be accepted. Three years later, my desire and ability to adapt to the new culture helped me to blend in to the new environment, but they also caused me to stumble: I learned to talk like others, dress like others, and, unfortunately, cheat like others.

After speaking with my administrator, I realized that I had taken numerous wrong turns in high school. Fortunately it was not too late for teachers to guide me towards the right direction, warning me that others are not always correct? While the majority of my school's students admitted cheating in an anonymous school survey, I was determined not to allow my characters to be stained by their kind of flaw.

Returning to class the next day, everyone's behavior seemed alien yet all too familiar. They screamed across the library telling one another homework solutions the same way they had always done, but as my administrator's words rang in my head, I deliberately stepped out of their world in search of mine.

Not until my junior year did I realize what the cheating students were missing out on when they aimlessly copied the answers from one paper onto another. Solving problems and learning new knowledge that led to fresh queries became the highlights of my day; tests no longer were tortures but became challenges to my intellect; and my class grades no longer depended on currying peer students?favor but derived from my own ability and efforts.

I no longer desire to be like those in the crowd, for the road most traveled by is not always the right route to achievements.

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