June 6, 2012
By Akhil Upneja BRONZE, State College, Pennsylvania
Akhil Upneja BRONZE, State College, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Journal Entry 10:

One envelope. Another envelope. One thick, one thin. One filled with satisfaction, the other filled with questions left unanswered. Both to trigger shock, although of different varieties. And only one explanation for the difference…

Journal Entry 1:

My name’s Jay. I was born here in the USA, and my parents immigrated to the states in the ‘80s through LA. Ayy. Sorry for my bad rhyming. It’s just that I’m so nervous! This is such a crucial year for me, and we only have 6 months until the Ivy League schools decide who to accept! All my efforts culminate in this decision, and I feel like 6 months is an eternity. Good thing I’ve got Tyrone to bear it with me.

Tyrone’s been my best friend since 2nd grade. We’ve been through everything together; failed tests, failed relationships, drama, politics, sports tryouts, music auditions, you name it. We have our friendly competitions, and our friendship has its ups and downs, but we’re still good friends. First friendly competition of the year tomorrow: SAT’s! I’ve got to beat him this time. He’s been consistently beating me on all of the practice tests we took through Kaplan. Let’s see what happens.

Journal Entry 2:

Violin auditions for district orchestra? Always a pain. You practice for 50 hours, to be judged on just a 30 second portion of music, selected from the vast amount of music on the agenda. Pretty much just a snapshot of hours of dedication, and they decide your seating based on it. Kind of like college admissions, if you ask me. Well I’ve got to beat Tyrone here! He’s been looking more determined by the day to beat me. I’ve got to show him up. We practiced every day for the past week, but I practiced besides our group practices, and I don’t think he did. Friendly competition #2!

Journal Entry 3:

1st and 2nd chair! Guess who was first… this kid! Only by 1 point out of 150 though. Now that we both made regionals, the competition starts all over again. We were both happy though. No hard feelings. In other news, debate tournament next week at Princeton! Of course, we’re partners in our event. Who can stop us?

In other news, this girl has been eyeing up Tyrone. He likes her. He should totally go for it. I’ve been telling him for weeks to ask her out! I’m going to be a wingman and get them together. Although he may not like it, that’s what’s going to happen. Stay tuned!

Journal Entry 4:

Yes! Score one for Tyrone! I did my job perfectly, I must say. We went out to celebrate after he finally asked the girl out. Dinner was on me, and we had a great time. College apps are due tomorrow, and we’ve both been working furiously. We’re applying all the same places: Ivies, UChicago, MIT, and some lower safety schools. I mean, we practically have the same resúme. National Debate Qualifiers, All-State Musicians, same AP classes, same grades. Nothing’s significantly different. I’m nervous, but for some reason, Tyrone doesn’t seem to be nervous at all. So chill all the time! Must be the girl. That’s what it is.

Did I mention, we got 2nd place at our debate tournament? Our nemesis beat us in a 2-1 decision, but that’s okay. We’ll get them next time!

SAT results, aka friendly competition #1, come out next week.

Journal Entry 5:

I beat him! That’s 2-0 for the big J (see what I did there?)! 2140 to 2060. He beat me in reading, but I whooped him in writing. He seemed really nice about it, congratulating me and celebrating with me. I see it as a mark of our friendship. No matter who loses, we’re still friends. And it’s probably also because we know that we win pretty evenly, so small victories don’t matter in the long run.

I went on a college visit this week. I’ve never felt as if these were useful in finding out anything about admissions, but I must admit, UPenn has a nice campus. I wouldn’t mind coming here if I got in. They said they had a highly selective acceptance rate though. We’ll see.

Tyrone found out today that he had won a scholarship for Gifted African Americans today. He was really excited. I talked with him on the phone, and he seemed really happy about it. I’m glad to see he’s so happy!

I must admit, school has been getting to me lately. I’ve been over my head in homework every night, plus I have to practice my violin and research for debate. It seems like there’s just no end. Going to bed at 1 and waking up at 6 isn’t the healthiest way to be awake either. My mom’s been noticing bags underneath my eyes, and is telling me that I shouldn’t stress out, and that everything will work out just fine. It’s just that I really want to show colleges that I’m able to accomplish a lot. It would look weird if I discontinued all my extracurriculars this year after pursuing them for all of my high school life. How did I do this last year, while sleeping at 11 every night? Must have been more focused. C’mon Jay, be more productive! You can do it!

Anyways, next week is another debate tournament, followed by regional orchestra, and three back-to-back tests. Busy stuff.

Journal Entry 6:

Tyrone and I had a nice little win streak, but then it got broken in the semifinals, so we finished 3rd overall. Not bad, but could be better. Regional orchestra was… well, it was actually great, but I got beat. Tyrone got the better of me this time! 1st and 2nd again, though he beat me by 3 points. Eh, it was to be expected. I wasn’t managing my time well, and I didn’t practice as much as I should have. Final round is states! I’ll work my butt off then.

What is Tyrone doing that is keeping him so calm? Granted, he and his girlfriend are happy together, but what’s keeping him so relaxed? Honestly, this has been one of the most stressful weeks of my high school career. He’s been so chill this whole week. He even asked me to hang out with him once during the week, but I couldn’t because I was so bogged down in work. I’m kind of jealous actually! I envy his relaxed state. Hopefully I can become like that after all this, this work … this burden on my life, dies down.

Journal Entry 7:

Sweat running down my face. I can feel the wind in my ears. The blood is pulsing in my veins, beating against the walls of my body, threatening to explode at any given moment. No, I’m not stressed. No, I’m not crying. I’m running. I’m running free, purging my emotions in this relentless pursuit of some higher accomplishment that I somehow can’t reach.

Emotions were running high until about 3.1 miles ago. I needed to take a break from my unwavering focus on practice for violin states. I will get a good chair. I know it. But I need to accomplish it. For myself, and for my future. If I can do well enough here, maybe I can join an orchestra at college, if I get in. When I get in? No, if I get in. Competition is fierce.

I’ve always imagined myself and Tyrone both getting into the same colleges. There’s really nothing different in us. We’ve won the same accomplishments, we’ve given the same interviews, won and lost the same debates, we’ve done everything together. Nothing can stop us. Yes, competition has been fierce, but we’ve been fiercer. Granted, we haven’t been the best at everything, but at least we’ve pursued it with the same passion and desire. It can’t culminate differently for each of us. Right?

Journal Entry 8:

3rd chair at states! I’m so happy. Not because I beat Tyrone, who got 5th, but because I was able to accomplish what I wanted. Practice makes perfect, and I set a goal to be near-perfect. Accomplished it. What could have happened differently? Nothing, of course! My efforts paid off. My parents were ecstatic, I was riding a high, and Tyrone was right there with me, cheering me on. I even accomplished the one thing I hadn’t been able to get throughout high school: a girlfriend! It couldn’t be going any better. I’m so happy.

Journal Entry 9:

Colleges come out with decisions tomorrow. I’m so nervous. All of my efforts, all of my time and energy and sacrifices, it all comes down to this. No need to panic, right? I’ve done my best, and that’s all that matters, my parents tell me. Good luck bro, Tyrone tells me. Now to sleep. See you in the morning journal!

Journal Entry 10:

One envelope. Another envelope. One thick, one thin. One filled with satisfaction, the other filled with questions left unanswered. Both to trigger shock, although of different varieties. And only one explanation for the difference…

Race. That was the only difference between Tyrone and I. I was Asian. He was African American. And he’s the one getting the thick acceptance envelope, and I’m the one getting the thin rejection envelope. What did I do wrong? I spent four whole years for this moment, this moment where I’m told I didn’t get into the colleges I wanted to get in? Sure, I got into my safety schools. Even one reach school in UChicago. But no Ivies?

Why am I punished for the race I was born into? I couldn’t control it; neither could Tyrone; neither could anyone else. I was rejected on the sole premise of my ethnicity. Is that fair? No. Is our society fair? No. Could it have been done more fairly? Of course. But they don’t think so. Those admissions officers are more concerned with having a diverse class than with getting the best students. And it hurts me to think that I have wasted my four years of high school for this moment. Four long years. And no benefits to reap. Affirmative action by race must cease.

The author's comments:
I'm only a junior, but college decisions are on my mind day in and day out. Being Indian, I am essentially at a disadvantage when it comes to college admissions due to my ethnicity, which is certainly something that I can't control. As a result of this realization, I wrote this piece to articulate my frustration at the current system through which colleges make their decisions.

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