Suspension questions

How badly will a suspension in soph year for jabbing a student with a pen out of impulse hurt my chances for Questbridge, or even colleges using the Common App for that matter?

The victim was literally taunting me in class by pushing my stuff off the desk multiple times (pencil case, planner). I had to bend over and frustratingly pick them up and when I saw him slowly pushing my binder off the tip of the desk, I jabbed his hand with a pen on impulse. He wasn’t seriously hurt (no bruise/bleeding, only a red mark) and told on me to the dean. At our school, any physical contact results in a 5-day suspension, but it was my first offense and I maintained stellar grades so it was shortened to 3 days. School was cancelled 2/3 of the days due to a snowstorm, so I only faced suspension for one day. I obviously regret my actions now, but it feels like my world’s crashing down on me after I’ve spent countless hours studying for the SAT’s and volunteering over the summer. Is there any way to even phrase the situation in my suspension explanation without seeming like I’m blaming others for what I’ve done? The kid wasn’t punished for provoking me or meddling with my possessions, and I didn’t tell anyone that he & his friends used to bully me. If I were to give the precise details of the incident, I would seem stubborn and unrepentant, but if I were to be a lot more vague by simply saying that I retaliated, it would seem as if I was involved in a hand-to-hand fight (which it was not, he didn’t physically retaliate) and possibly hurt me tremendously.

How should I approach the letter in the context of this situation? Sorry for making this so long; I’m just freaking out because the deadline for Questbridge is so near.

State what you learned from this in your essays.

Explain it like you did here and what you learned from this.
BTW, impulse can be linked to memories of being bullied. This is not to excuse your gesture and you shouldn’t state that in your essay, but that’s just to explain how it can be a one-shot thing, that you can learn to control it and deal with it by reporting any bullying to adults (better be a tattletale than bullied).

OMG: don’t use your essay to speak about this! Have your GC relay your story and reform. Your essay is one of the FEW areas where you humanize your file and present yourself in the best light. Don’t use that precious space to tell this reform story.

How badly will it hurt you? Not badly at all if you handle it well. It was almost two years ago which is a lifetime when you are talking about a teen-ager. A sympathetic guidance counselor can make it clear that this was one lapse, one incident of bad judgement never repeated. Go talk to him/her and just make clear that you realize there were better ways to have handled this.

And I agree with T26E4 that the application is the place to present yourself in the best possible light, not explain lapses.

Hey guys, there is a section to explain my suspension in 300 words or less so I will be using that. Should I state how many days I was suspended for? It was “officially” shortened from 5 to 3 days, but I only suffered the consequence of a day of suspension because the other two days were closed as a result of a snowstorm. If I do have to state how many days, should I say that it was 3 instead of 5 and that I only suffered for 1 day, or should I just say that I was suspended for 1 day? Should I mention the severity of the damage inflicted? How should I demonstrate my remorse? I truly am regretful and have learned to not build up my emotions, but I haven’t been bullied since so I don’t think I can say that I learned to report it to adults. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure that my ADHD played a role in my impulsivity, but I have started taking meds for it again and it has helped me become a much better person. Should I mention this part at all? (I definitely DO NOT want any special accommodations). Thanks for the help so far & sorry about my many questions. I guess this is how my disorder makes me obsess over every meticulous detail.

^I wasn’t thinking in terms of “explaining lapses”, but as a start to the “failure” essay.

Talk to your guidance counselor. If it was officially 3 days, then report 3 days. The last thing you want is to say it was one day and have the gc contradict you - then you look like a liar. Just keep it simple - a fight with another student that got out of hand. I regret what happened. It was a stupid and I didn’t handle my anger well. It’s never happened before or since. No gory details. No mention of ADHD or meds.

This is not the place to discuss whether you learned to report bullying to an adult or not. There is such a thing as too much information and that is an example. Again, coordinate with your gc so your stories are consistent.

^You seriously don’t think it’d be a good way to start an essay aout lessons from failure (an official CA prompt, which, by definition, starts with something negative that happened or was caused by the student.)
“How I failed myself once and then grew to become who I wanted to be”…
It’d be an interesting starting point, easy to describe in action verbs, immediately engaging the curiosity (because if it had happened again or hadn’t been turned around, it wouldn’t be at the beginning of the essay, but how so/what?) Obviously the incident shouldn’t be the focus (I’m thinking perhaps 4 lines out of the whole thing) but the starting point.

If not presented as a turning point in growth, then I agree it should only be addressed by the GC.
In the suspension/crime section, GC will note suspension and may or may detail, but students only check whether there was one or not. This section isn’t for details and letting feelings out. It’s got to be factual.

@N’s Mom: In your opinion, wouldn’t a fight with a student seem worse than jabbing a student with a pen?

Just how memorable do you want to make this? “He was messing with my books so I jabbed him in the hand with a pen. And got 3 days suspension.” As opposed to, “We had a fight and I got suspended.”

The goal here is to get the admin people to focus on something else - your sunny personality, your quick wit, your elegant turn of phrase. Not a live action mental video of you stabbing someone with your pen. Get to the ‘I was dumb and I learned my lesson’ part of this program as fast as possible with as little color as possible. The mea culpa is the only thing you want them to remember.

Yes, you’re right. Thanks for the sound advice.

You were given 3 days and would have missed 3 days of school if it hadn’t snowed. You must report the 3 days. And do not say you “suffered” suspension. Violence has to be addressed and you did commit a violent act. Justified perhaps but still a violation of rules.

Do not say that you learned to control your actions because of the suspension. Admissions people would be more impressed if you wrote something ore to the effect that violence only escalates to more violence and is not the solution to bullying.

Would anyone be willing to read my explanation and provide feedback to improve it?