Hi, I’m Ishmael. I’ve been playing this Ivy League admissions game since I was in second grade when my mother made sure I chose the oboe for my instrument on Orchestra Day in school. I wanted to play the drums, but that wouldn’t get me into Yale, or Harvard, or Penn, not even Cornell. Yale being the ultimate goal… at least for my parents. I listened to my mother, as any good second grader would, and picked up the oboe while the other boys flocked to the percussion section. Since that day long ago, I have spent all my time studying and practicing, with one target in mind: Yale.
Every day, I quietly walk to my practice room passing the other students as they stand around gossiping. I stop and watch them sometimes, wondering what it’s like to be a regular teen. They don’t notice me, so I quietly move on to my practice room. My practice room has become my refuge and my oboe my friend. This is all I know. No one else can hear the deep soulful vibrations of the sound my oboe and I make when we are together in my refuge; I prefer it this way, they wouldn’t understand. My classmates only hear my music when they are forced to go to the Youth Orchestra on field trips. They hear me loudly in Model UN, and the campus newspaper, but they don’t know me. I’m too busy chasing the immense white whale that is Yale, constantly hoping I’m doing enough to claim my spot in the 2022 class.