Sweatshirt Superstitions

Unspoken Culture and Disparities Among Seniors


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

Unspoken Culture and Disparities Among Seniors

College merch is super expensive, especially for first-generation, low-income (FGLI) students like me. When I hear other students worry about “jinxing” their acceptances into their early decision (ED) schools simply by wearing (or not wearing) the schools’ merch, I can’t help but think about how this demonstrates a gulf of disparities that exist between the haves and have nots.

I have experienced these disparities first hand. I’ve had to spend countless hours filling out additional financial aid applications and finding resources to avoid falling into debt that my family and I cannot afford. While there are students obsessing over their superstitious purchase, other students don’t even have the time to dwell on such obsessions. I believe that in general, students who are FGLI are more concerned with actually having the resources to afford attending the colleges of their dreams than those who worry whether wearing merch will jinx them or not.

Beyond the financial aspects of applying to college, I think that believing that you’ll get into your ED school if you wear the school’s merch once a week or every single day is quite silly. I believe that students who give into this superstition are setting themselves up for disappointment. This prompts an awkward question: what will they do with the hundreds of dollars worth of merch they purchased if they don’t get in? Let it sit sullenly in their closet for months on end? Wear it and confront the sadness of rejection from their “only perfect school?”  I believe obsessing over the superstition of a sweater will seem foolish in retrospect once a student has overcome their disappointment if they’re mature enough to do so. 

Some people don’t believe in the positive superstition, “if I wear this merch for good luck, surely I’ll get in.” But others do participate in the negative superstition of “jinxing it.” To believe in both versions of this superstition goes to show that people who don’t have to deal with the extra steps of applying to very elite (and often very expensive) institutions are not recognizing that having the time and opportunity to attach themselves to these superstitions is a privilege in and of itself.

At the end of the day, the college process ends before we know it. Why become fixated on holding onto a superstition that doesn’t even play a role in the application and admission process? I would hope that by the end of May, those who believed that wearing college merch will change their chances of getting into their ED school will look back and realize that not only are there students who had a much tougher time than they did throughout the college process, regardless of where they are going in September, but also that there were much more important things to worry about than a silly piece of merch.