Students Should Be Mindful of Wearing College Merch During the Admissions Process

May 16, 2023


Seniors should be mindful about wearing college merch throughout the college admissions process because it can be a sensitive subject for some students. Staff illustration: Sutton Inouye

Whether it’s a sweatshirt, hat, T-shirt, pajama pants or key chain, the reasons behind wearing college merch can range from simply liking the look of an article of clothing, to representing the school that a family member attended, to representing the school that you are planning to attend. Unfortunately, anything college-related can be a touchy subject for seniors during the college admissions process, and merchandise from a school is no different.

While merch is far from the heaviest topic when it comes to college admissions, making decisions about when and where to wear it is something that seniors have to navigate, especially while the admissions process is still going on.

Representing your future college on a sweatshirt is a fun, simple way to show pride in what you have accomplished, but there are times when students may wear a college sweatshirt even when the school doesn’t hold significance to the student. If that is the case, being conscious of how that sweatshirt may impact a peer is still important. Seeing someone wear a hoodie from a school you were recently rejected or waitlisted by is not pleasant. No one wears a sweatshirt to make another person feel bad, but, near decision releases, it can still be hard to see. 

The college admissions process is a huge test of persistence and resilience. At some point, we need to be able to see the sweatshirt of a school that didn’t work out for us on another person and be happy for them. The biggest challenge with college merch is finding where that line is. Of course, processing the stress and rejection that occurs in this process is something that every person should process on their own time; no one should be rushed. 

Varying timelines of when seniors feel comfortable seeing college merch on their peers make it difficult to find a solution that benefits everyone. However, agreeing as a class on a few time frames when wearing or using merch should be avoided could help to ease the stress around deciding when to wear merch. 

One time frame that would be ideal for avoiding wearing college merch is during the flood of Early Decision and Early Action decisions that are released from mid to late December. This is an incredibly stressful time for applicants, when college is going to be at the top of most seniors’ minds. Seeing a college hoodie in that period, even from a school one hasn’t applied to, can add to that stress. It is important to keep in mind that many people’s Early Decision or Early Action schools are their top choices, making this time hypersensitive. 

Another is during the flood of Regular Decision releases. This is a more staggered time frame and at this point in the process, some people already know where they will be attending college because of Early Action and Early Decision releases. Wearing the merch for the school you got into early on the day that Regular Decision is released serves as a reminder for students of that school’s name and logo on a day when they are more than likely trying to avoid stressing about the decision. For example, if someone was waiting for the regular decision release of X university, seeing another student who was admitted to X university early, could cause additional stress as it would be another reminder of the looming news. 

Once admitted to a school, waiting a week or so to wear your merch is also another positive choice for those around you. You never know who around you was waitlisted or rejected when you were admitted. This is not to suggest that you should feel a version of “survivor’s guilt” if you get accepted into a school others were rejected or deferred from; be excited and grateful and wear your merch, but in the first week or so, be gentle with people around you who may not have gotten the same positive news. Even waiting until the last decisions in each wave are released for any school could be worthwhile. 

Outside of those time frames, it’s important to just be aware of your peers’ feelings. Wearing merch should be a fun thing that allows seniors to show where they will spend the next chapter of their lives. Additionally, even in such a competitive, emotionally charged process, we can’t simply ban merch because of inability to shake off jealousy over each other’s accomplishments. Sensitivity is important, especially in particularly stressful times, but college merch isn’t going away. As long as we can play by certain rules of thumb and be aware of how we can impact each other, it doesn’t need to be a hurtful thing, but rather a super positive way to show excitement for ourselves and for each other.

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About the Contributor
Photo of Annie Stent
Annie Stent, Copy Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: writing stories on topics I’m passionate about

Interests outside of school: volleyball, spending time with friends and family, walking my dogs

Class of 2023

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