In Palo Alto, as well as much of the country, college admissions are seen as the culmination of your K-12 education. While schools receive thousands of applicants each year, rejection still feels personal. To help cope with this disappointment, Palo Alto High School students, in years past, have posted their college rejection letters along the front wall of the library to provide consolation.

Unlike in previous years, however, the Student Center (the interim location while the library is under construction) has yet to be lined with letters of rejection.

“There are no organizers for a rejection wall,” says Senior Class President Noga Hurwitz. “If I’m not mistaken, one doesn’t exist this year.”

Verde supports the continuation of the wall this year as a way to accept failures and remind students that they are not alone during a time where deferrals and rejections may threaten to define their vision of their own success.


“Verde supports the continuation of the wall this year as a way to accept failures and remind students that they are not alone during a time where deferrals and rejections may threaten to define their vision of their own success.”


Palo Alto’s culture places pressure on students to be viewed as perfect, especially in terms of academics, which leaves few opportunities to acknowledge our failures. However, with the rejection wall, students are able to cathartically express the more negative side of the college process.

“It’s a somewhat visceral response from a quarter of the school that is undergoing the same stress, experience and disappointment,” Hurwitz says.

In addition, as a community, in order to combat academic stress, students and administration must keep the rejection wall tradition because, in doing so, we take another step toward reshaping the expectation of perfectionism. Because the rejection wall commemorates students’ failure rather than our success, some may argue that it negatively contributes to our community.

However, Paly still has ways to celebrate successes, including college decision day, the decoration of graduation caps and the annual college map. But we still lack outlets to acknowledge rejection.


“Verde asks students and administration to take part in and support the rejection wall this year. “


Therefore, Verde asks students and administration to take part in and support the rejection wall this year. In a community that emphasizes academic achievement, it’s easy to view college decisions as the defining feature of our success. The rejection wall puts disappointing college decisions in perspective, and allows students to challenge Palo Alto’s norm of perfectionism