This week, counselors and university counselors organized an activity for seniors under the theme “Understanding, preparing for, and rising above rejection.” Some 40 seniors signed up for the session that was inspired by psychologist Guy Winch’s article “Why rejection hurts so much — and what to do about it.”
During small group discussions, the counselors addressed the inevitable anticipation, stress and worry that many students, and their parents, experience during the process of applying to universities and waiting for responses. The counselors then shared ways to become resilient in the face of disappointments such as not being accepted into a university.
“The odds are that you will get accepted, the school is doing everything it can to make that happen,” said Wellness and Advising Director Nada Dakhil. “But worst-case scenario, if that doesn’t happen, it could be a good opportunity to try something new, for example take a gap year. Or if a student applies early and receives a negative or conditional response, they can use that time productively to recalibrate, to listen to the advice of their university counselors, to set realistic expectations and put forward more effort to achieve their goals.”
During the session, students looked at a number of different letters where universities and companies have turned down applicants. Noting the letters’ similarities, students realized that these decisions are not personal, rather the institution may have simply reached its capacity. Seniors then transformed the letters into origami birds, to symbolize creating something meaningful out of what feels like rejection.
In his article, Winch suggests some tips to help people overcome the sting of rejection. One of those tips is to “revive your self-worth.” According to Winch: “The best way to boost feelings of self-worth after a rejection is to affirm aspects of yourself you know are valuable.”
To that end, the seniors took time to write letters to themselves affirming their valuable attributes, which they will save to reread in the future during periods of self-doubt. Applying emotional first aid in that way, says Winch, will boost self-esteem, reduce emotional pain and build confidence going forward.
Talking about ways that parents and teachers can help students rise above rejection, Dakhil said: “Parents and teachers can play a huge role in reviving students sense of self-worth and redirecting feelings of anger, blame and rejection into healthier activities and meaningful connections.”