The battle of the merch: Wearing high school apparel in college


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Lindsey Davis

When it comes to wearing high school merchandise in college, I personally do not partake, but I don’t see the harm in doing so either – to a certain extent, at least.

As a freshman in college, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear apparel representing your high school. At that age, your high school is still a part of who you are. A lot of people play sports, join clubs and participate in extracurriculars throughout high school. They also typically have merchandise to show for it.

When I was a freshman, one of the most common questions I was asked by the people I met was, “Where are you from?” followed by, “Where did you go to high school?”

Repping your high school could be beneficial because it tells people where you’re from and what your hobbies or interests are without them even having to ask.

Most people who play sports in high school do it for several years, and some even play multiple sports, which results in a large collection of team hoodies and T-shirts.

If I were to transfer schools, I wouldn’t wear my old school’s merchandise around my new one. I wouldn’t necessarily get rid of the old clothes, but they wouldn’t be my first choice.

Now, apply that situation to graduating high school and going to college. You’re leaving one phase of your life and starting another.

When your closet is filled with these kinds of clothes and you get so used to wearing them, it can become an unconscious choice.

There’s no problem with wanting to represent your school or your team, but at a certain point, it’s not really yours to represent anymore.

Freshmen get a free pass, but as sophomore year rolls around, I think you should definitely have more clothing representing your college than your high school in your closet.

Now, that’s not to say that you can never wear a sweatshirt with your high school on it, but just don’t make it your go-to.

Think about it this way. If someone wore T-shirts with their favorite band on it more than one day a week, people would probably think they were “obsessed.”

It’s okay to want to represent something that you like, and it shouldn’t matter what anyone thinks. Likes and dislikes change all the time. People change all the time.

At the age of 20, most people (hopefully) don’t really identify as much with their high school selves as much anymore.

If you wear your high school merchandise too often, it seems like you’re letting yourself get stuck in the past. College is when you get to grow, branch out and explore who you really are.

As a junior in college, I can’t tell you the last time I wore my high school’s merchandise.

I’m proud of where I went to high school. I was proud to be on the cheerleading team. I was proud to take part in musical theatre and choir.

However, I am not a part of those things anymore, so I don’t feel like it’s my place to represent them.

It’s been almost three years since I graduated. All of the high school freshmen that I was in those groups with when I was a senior will graduate next year. Any ties I had leading back to them will be cut.

This leads me to question at what point, if ever, will it be considered unacceptable to wear my college merchandise.

I see adults, well over college-aged, wearing University of Kentucky merchandise all the time, and I have never thought twice about it.

When you’re an adult representing a team made up of other adults, it’s different than when you’re an adult representing a team made up of 14-18 year olds.

I think the only time you should really be wearing high school merchandise as an adult is if you work at the school or if you’re cheering on your child from the bleachers.

As a general rule, I think that you should stop representing your high school when that portion of your résumé doesn’t really matter anymore.