Holy Shirt! Where Are You Going to College?

John Gross Co-Editor-in-Chief When my brother was visiting colleges a few years ago, he, on a whim, picked up a shirt for me at USC because he thought I’d like it. But had I known the fuss it would create in the senior hallways, I’d have told him to leave it. The third floor of my house is under construction, which has forced me into the basement for the past couple of weeks. I have a few shirts down there, a few pants, a few pairs of socks, and a washing machine, so I don’t have to go upstairs often to get new clothes. That is the only reason I wore a USC shirt twice in one week—because it was there, conveniently, in the basement. And these days, I take advantage of the few opportunities to get something without expending much energy. Now, there’s no reason why anyone needs to know why I wear the clothes I wear, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that everyone assumed that I was wearing the shirt to make a statement about my first-choice school, almost as if to strut into school with a big smirk and say, “Gotcha! I bet you didn’t think I was applying to USC, but I am and everyone should freak out.” Why would I do that? And, what’s more, after I didn’t attend the USC representative meeting, I was approached by several classmates interested in why I didn’t show, if I’d just forgotten about it. I’ve never told anyone that I am applying to USC. That’s not to say that I hate the school, or even dislike it, or that there’s no chance that I am applying. To be frank, I’ve never even visited. I don’t really know anything about it. But I do know that I have a lot of college shirts. I have two older siblings who visited a lot of colleges. I visited a lot of colleges. I like college T-shirts. They fit me well. I don’t want to sound holier than thou, because I am stressed out of my mind about college and school and sports and everything else that we’re all stressed about, especially seniors. It’s just that, as cheesy as it sounds, we should all be in this together. We should all be stressed about applying to college and getting good grades, not about whether that person is applying to the school that I like and if other people know about it and if people are whispering about where I am applying in the halls because they saw my blue form. Or because some person overslept and just grabbed his dirty USC shirt out of the makeshift hamper in the basement, which is really just a pile of clothes and school papers. It’s unnecessary and unwelcome stress, in a process that already has us all questioning, at one point or another, if school is even necessary—if flipping burgers at McDonald’s really is that bad of a job. I bet you’d get free food. Latin needs to be more collaborative. The steep course-load, the demanding teachers, the intelligent and fiercely competitive student body combine to form this tense, “every man for himself” air. And I am certainly one to blame for getting swept up in it all. But the college process and the first chunk of my final year at Latin have helped me realize that school (and life) can’t be about one-upping everyone around you. It’s a fruitless struggle because there is always going to be someone better than you and, in the end, what does being the best even mean? What does it get you? We have to focus on ourselves. Find the schools that we like. Do our best. And apply.]]>