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Rejection Wall woes

For the first time in years, students aren’t posting their anonymous letters on the board
Freshman+Ronald+Saba+and+sophomore+Brian+Bowers+read+the+sparse+rejection+letters+together.+%E2%80%9CI+really+like+the+idea+of+having+a+Rejection+Wall+here+at+Jefferson.+It+unites+students+with+their+struggles+at+a+school+that+is+very+competitive%2C%E2%80%9D+Saba+said.
Mack Millsapps
Freshman Ronald Saba and sophomore Brian Bowers read the sparse rejection letters together. “I really like the idea of having a Rejection Wall here at Jefferson. It unites students with their struggles at a school that is very competitive,” Saba said.

While most people might prefer to keep their college rejections private, Jefferson students proudly display their so-called failures on the Rejection Wall. This wall, typically set up in the spring semester, serves as a platform for students to share their anonymous college application rejection letters. The intention is to foster unity among students and provide a coping mechanism. 

“It’s really just a way to alleviate some stress that comes with the application process,” sophomore Jo-Jo Forson said.

In previous years, the wall has been full of printed rejection letters, covered from corner to corner; however, this year, the wall is bare, with just a handful of letters. 

“In previous years, the wall always had at least a dozen letters, but this year, I’ve only seen a few,” senior Ameya Naithani said.

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This has led to lots of students wondering why fewer students are posting their letters.

“It might be just that some students are more stressed this year or don’t think of it as very important,” Naithani said.

Some students have also changed their minds about whether the wall promotes a positive environment.

“To some, it looks confusing, as it seems like a negative thing,” freshman Andrew Haydon said.

However, this opinion is not just coming from students but staff as well. 

“I feel like you are trolling or crushing yourself by posting on the wall,” counselor Sean Burke said.  

While at first glance, a Rejection Wall may seem like a terrible idea that promotes failure, it has plenty of positives, especially at competitive schools like Jefferson where students often don’t feel confident in telling their peers when they are struggling.  

“I think one reason is that students are embarrassed when they don’t get into their dream school, and they don’t want others to see that,” Forson said. 

Due to how high the expectations are, many staff members believe that students don’t understand the height of their own achievements.

“What many students forget is that they are at TJ and that everyone that comes here gets into a good college,” Burke said.

However, the Rejection Wall gives courage to some students, allowing them to see that their peers aren’t much different from themselves. On the other hand, some students think it helps promote a positive environment for students that Jefferson often lacks due to how difficult it feels at times. 

“Even though there isn’t much on the wall, I think it’s a good idea because it lets students post about their struggles anonymously,” freshman Jayden Anderson said. 

The Rejection Wall, even though made for seniors, helps the entire community bond through struggle. With how competitive Jefferson can get, it is important for students to understand that they are not the only ones struggling even when met with mixed reactions.

“When the wall is full I am glad that students have found a way to express their frustrations, but it also sends a message that they are not happy and really frustrated,” Burke said.

The mixed feelings on the Rejection Wall prompt the question if Jefferson should explore different ways of uplifting students across the campus. 

“Promoting more bonding activities within the school would definitely make us a more tight-knit community,” Forson said. 

When students feel behind or like they are struggling at Jefferson, they often try not to discuss it due to how rigorous and competitive it can get. However, if we had more ideas and concepts similar to the Rejection Wall, it could only help students. 

“I remember earlier in the year we had a few boards on the walls where you could write little positive messages. I thought they helped make the school better,” Anderson said.

This story was originally published on tjTODAY on May 16, 2024.