The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Menlo’s Rejection Wall Sparks Controversy With Students and Staff

Tatum Herrin

For years, Menlo School’s rejection wall, also known as the “wall of shame,” stood as a bold emblem outside the Student Life office. On the wall, seniors could post their college rejection letters as a means of turning personal setbacks into a collective rite of passage. However, the wall’s existence has sparked controversy amidst the high-pressure atmosphere of college application season at Menlo. The class of 2023 ultimately decided to end the tradition and remove the rejection wall.

Students created the wall to help seniors cope with the sting of rejection and provide a sense of camaraderie among students. When college decisions are released in March, students can opt in to display their rejection letters, hiding their names to maintain privacy.

“Sometimes things don’t go the way that we want, and [the wall] can help students see that they aren’t alone in that,” Upper School counselor Stefie Dominguez said.

For many students, the wall normalizes college rejections and reminds seniors that rejection won’t prevent them from achieving their future goals. Instead, the wall encourages seniors to view rejection as a shared experience that unites their class and promotes perseverance and mutual support for one another.

“During college applications, everyone was so stressed and the environment was so tense […] so having a rejection wall would have broken down that barrier,” alumnus Kaylie Wu (‘23) said.

While the rejection wall has allowed some students to share their experiences with college rejections and support each other, not all students are in favor of having the wall. The rejection wall has received mixed reactions from students and staff because not all feel comfortable that students are publicizing such personal experiences.

“I feel like instead of just talking about the colleges you didn’t get into, you should be celebrating the ones you did. […] We should just look forward, as a class, to the colleges we get into. It feels a little negative,” senior Ethan Weinshel said.

As teachers, students, and administrators in the community have expressed their concerns about the wall, the tradition has become significantly less popular. So far this school year, no seniors have hung up any rejection letters.

“It’s just kind of lost steam over the years because students have become less interested in it,” Director of College Counseling Lisa Giarratano said.

In place of the rejection wall, Giarratano proposes a more celebratory approach to cope with the end of one path and commemorate the excitement of new beginnings: a bonfire after college decisions are finalized in May. At the bonfire, seniors can burn their rejection letters in a more festive atmosphere, toasting marshmallows and celebrating their upcoming graduations.

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About the Contributors
Malia Chen
Malia Chen, Assistant Social Media & Marketing Director
Tatum Herrin
Tatum Herrin, Editor in Chief

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 4

Favorite aspect of journalism: Designing pages

Interests outside of school: Mock trial and lacrosse

Class of 2024

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