#AcceptDenial: How Social Media Has Made the Letter “D” the Scarlet Letter of Our Generation


(This post was contributed by Our Digital Daughter Ambassador, Jamie Spelling)

Human nature can sometimes be hypocritical—If we get deferred or denied from a school, we treat like it has no right being the mark of all our accomplishments. Yet if the letter is an acceptance, it becomes the gold medal for all that we have done since counting to 20 at the age of 2 and scoring a 2200 on the SAT. In gold medal fashion, this acceptance is then placed on a podium for all of Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram to admire. The exploitation of the college acceptance letter on social media is an unfair practice that promotes the stigma of deferrals and denials.

It is an inherent desire for humans to seek reward and recognition for their accomplishments. So in the fight against the stigma of denials, I do not find it reasonable to ask of you, a human being, not to seek out congratulations from your peers. But the denied have begun to hide behind the outward glory of the accepted, making the denial seem falsely shameful. So instead, I claim the following: if denials and deferrals were as visible as acceptances on social media, perhaps the stigma of a denial could be lessened.

We see an ever-flowing list of Facebook-enhanced acceptances: “DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY CLASS OF 2020,” “COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON,” and “RU READY FOR ME RUTGERS UNIVERSITY?” Ironically, the letter “A” is worn proudly on the chest of those accepted. Never do we see the post of a denial. Instead, denials are hidden. “D” has become the Scarlet Letter of our generation and it shall continue to be regarded with shame until society can eliminate the dishonorable stigma that it bears.

I am not saying that you must be proud of a denial. I am insisting you not feel disgrace. It is easy to feel alone in being denied while you’re lost in a sea of your peers’ online acceptance celebrations. This lonesomeness is the result of pure illusion. With no one publicly announcing that they, too, have been deferred, you believe you are the only one. It is deception. Just because you can’t see the full picture does not mean it isn’t there. Just because the picture is not as pretty, does not mean it shouldn’t be seen.

We must realize it is not the committee’s approval that makes our accomplishments what they are; they were there before the decision was made. We were proud of these accomplishments until a letter was sent home stating whether or not a group of strangers considered them worthy. Start proud. Stay proud. Realize that if you accept the committee’s opinions, the only stranger to your accomplishments is you.

Until the time comes that we can change society’s perception of the college admissions process, I pledge to post my college deferral and denial notices to social media in a step to #AcceptDenial. Will you?


  1. Dude… this isn’t a real issue. Millions of people get deferred and rejected from higher education institutions every year. There is no stigma around it and it’s just a part of life. You’ll be good.


    • Yeah, it’s not a huge issue but it’s a real issue. I’ve been accepted to several colleges, but I was deferred from my top pick. It can be incredibly painful to watch all of my friends posting about getting accepted to their dream schools while the one place I really wanted to go deferred me. With all the other stress associated with being a high school senior, feeling shame and disappointment about denials and deferrals is something I wish we didn’t have to deal with.


  2. Believe me Louise, as a high school student who is currently a senior, this is a problem. Sure, it is not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, but the social media glorification of college acceptances can really take a toll on mental health and self esteem. Just as social media creates a false reality and perpetuates low self-esteem, the announcement of solely college acceptances do to.


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