I entered the cozy, well-lit conference room in a Los Angeles hotel and surveyed my competition.
There were 14 students seated inside. Each shared a common goal: becoming a contestant on the Jeopardy College Championship.
You know, the game where students answer in the form of a question while donning their nicest college crew-neck sweatshirts. Qualifying for the show has been a goal of mine since my freshman year. I even had a dream one night in which I couldn’t decide between a navy or Carolina blue sweatshirt — five minutes before showtime.
Each student in the room had passed an online test in March to earn the callback invitation. For months, the Jeopardy crew had been traveling across the country to rooms like this one to whittle 200 or so hopefuls down to 15. The ultimate prize: $100,000.
In other words, I didn’t take the audition lightly. I had spent countless hours this summer holed up in my local library, poring over The World Almanac, studying European monarchs, state nicknames, birthstones, thermodynamics, Greek gods and anything else that qualifies as “general knowledge.”