By Neo Xin Yuan (21A01D)
Trial Outcome: Unsuccessful.
A year ago, I was staring at these words printed innocuously on the webpage, thinking it must be a mistake.
Both CCAs that I’d tried for had rejected me. Both of which I would’ve loved to get into as they aligned with two of my biggest passions: art and writing. I tried to smile it off in front of my friends, but inadvertently, I fell in a bad mood for the next few days that slipped by.
A friend asked me which CCA she should choose between two that had accepted her. She had more than two CCAs to choose from. It’s hard not to feel anything less than jealous when both the CCAs I’d applied for had accepted her—the same CCAs that rejected me. Later, I was notified that I was accepted because of a vacancy, but the damage had been done—for a long time, I felt like I didn’t truly belong in my club as I had been a ‘second choice’.
If you’ve gone through—or are going through—a similar experience, fret not. As the name suggests, CCA Trials are nothing more than a series of trials and tribulations which everyone has to get through. And we all get through, in the end.
It’s hard, I know. It’s not easy to deal with the sting of rejection, especially after you’ve expressed your passion and your desire to join the CCA. You try your best to impress and put in your best effort—only to be told, in the end, that you weren’t good enough. You find out with a start that your classmates have rejected the same CCA you wanted to join so badly, and think to yourself that you would’ve accepted that offer without hesitation—if only you had been deemed good enough to be offered it.
There’s one thing for sure, though—you’re not alone in this. There are many of us who had to deal with rejections. Nadia Irdina (21A01D) was one of them.
“I tried for Street Dance, Chorale, and Soccer (Girls),” she shared with me.
Having been in dance CCAs and dance groups since primary school, she naturally had high hopes for joining Raffles Street Dance (RSD).
“I had a long term passion for dance and music so it felt natural to me to continue being involved in an activity I love. The selection process was intense and the chance to be accepted was slim. However, I continued persevering, hoping the teachers could see my interest and determination.”
Unfortunately, even though she managed to get into Soccer, she was not accepted into Street Dance, the CCA she really wanted.
“I was devastated and disappointed,” she admitted. “I was shocked and spent weeks pondering about what went wrong. I felt like I had lost a part of my identity. I felt lost and I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy being in a CCA that I was hesitant about joining. I couldn’t stop thinking about the reason I got rejected. My mind couldn’t stop overthinking about whether I was no longer good enough in dance such that I was no longer worthy to pursue it in JC. My self-esteem plummeted too.”
Nadia wrote an email to RSD’s teachers-in-charge to appeal, and consulted her civics tutor in hopes to gain advice and tips on how to get through the rejection which had brought about feelings of hurt and confusion. Ultimately, her appeal was rejected and she accepted Soccer instead. Having gone through a lot emotionally, she was apprehensive about joining Soccer but tried to be as optimistic as she could.
Another student who faced similar rejection was Metalynn Rizal (21A01D) who tried out for Soccer, Touch Rugby and Audio Visual Unit.
“I wanted Soccer quite a lot since I always gave up halfway with my past sports CCAs in primary school and this was basically my last chance to commit to a sport,” she explained.
In the end, she wasn’t accepted into Soccer. “[I was] pretty disappointed because I didn’t expect to do that badly.”
Despite her disappointment, she wasn’t too hung up on it. “I just took it as a sports CCA wasn’t for me and didn’t appeal for it,” she said.
So, where does that leave those who were rejected?
Students who have had unsuccessful trials might be feeling disappointed, hurt, or even angry. They might be thinking: why were they rejected? What’s so difficult about accepting passionate individuals into the CCA they want?
They might start to question where they’d gone wrong in the trials, in the interview. But the truth is there’s no such thing as wrong.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview potential Year Five members for Press, and ultimately decide whether or not they should be accepted into the CCA. As always, I’m reminded of last year’s Trials; now that the roles are reversed, being the decision-maker this time has put things into perspective.
There are a lot of different factors that go into decision-making, including but not limited to your ranking of CCA choices, your performance in that short trial session, and even your personality. For example, if you didn’t rank the CCA first, they might be less inclined to offer you a place compared to others who put it as their first choice. But ranking’s not everything—what really matters is how you present yourself in the trials.
After all, the people judging you are people too—judgement is hence rendered subjective no matter how many structural rubrics are put into place to maintain a certain level of objectivity. Still, it’s hard to be completely objective even with numerical scoring systems. In fact, some CCAs have sections in their rubrics dedicated to the ‘vibe’ applicants give off. Sometimes the make-or-break is personality. If you rub your interviewer the wrong way, whether it be your mannerisms or an offhand comment, they wouldn’t feel inclined to let you into the CCA.
Again, I feel the need to emphasise that is not a reflection of you as a person. It’s impossible to pin down a person in a short 15-minute interview. Similarly, the results of the trials do not determine your competence or your worth as a person.
No matter how bad the experience might be, CCA Trials will eventually pass us by. In fact, rejections can often be a blessing in disguise. Because of rejection, I’ve learnt to rebuild my confidence and be more appreciative of the things I already have.
Turns out, joining Soccer has been exactly that for Nadia, too. “The soccer team is a close-knit and bonded group,” she enthused. “I felt super welcomed and appreciated by my teammates. We all learn from each other and have fun together.”
One year into getting rejected by Street Dance, Nadia has learnt to be open-minded about the opportunities offered. “Although I was disappointed and confused, it took me a long time to realise that there will always be people with better skill, higher hopes and in a better position to benefit from an opportunity.”
Similarly, in hindsight, Metalynn also felt that it was a blessing in disguise that she wasn’t accepted into Soccer.
“I decided to try and be involved with other things like the Malay Literary and Drama Cultural Society (MLDCS) that I’m a part of,” she said. ”I ended up becoming an ExCo member of that! I have a lot more free time than I would’ve if I’d gotten into the CCA I wanted, which is really good because it’s a lot more relaxed and I can afford to study at my own pace, do more of my hobbies or just have free afternoons.”
One year in, she feels happy about where she is now.
She shared a few tips for Year Fives participating in Trials: “Find a CCA that works for you! If you find it hard to balance studies with a busy schedule, don’t pick something super tiring—you can always do it as a hobby outside of school with friends or on your own, and having the energy to get through the week is really so important. You also don’t have to feel pressured to commit to something just because you’re interested in it—it’s okay to do something just leisurely. Your CCA also helps to build your profile so Clubs & Societies are good too if you want to be more involved in programmes!”
“Raffles offers a wide range of CCAs for students to choose from,” Nadia added. “Therefore, when one door closes, another [will] always open. Ultimately, there will always be other avenues for students to participate in the things they are passionate in.”
As much as we want to be able to enter the CCA we want, CCA Trials are a necessary ‘trial’ in our lives that everyone has to go through. In spite of rejection, we should not be afraid to go for the things we want, so that there are no regrets. Life is about stepping out of your comfort zone over and over again to get the things you desire.
Don’t be afraid to go for the CCAs you truly want. If you never try, you’ll never know if you would have gotten in or not. And if you get rejected, don’t let this experience scare you into shying away from other opportunities in life.
Don’t be afraid to fight for the CCA you want, too, if you weren’t initially accepted. There’s no shame in appealing as you might still be able to get into the CCA. But if it doesn’t work, that’s okay, and we should learn to let go and look forward. There are always other options, like auto-accept CCAs, which range from sports CCAs like Recreational Badminton to creative clubs like Writers’ Guild. Staying open-minded and optimistic is sure to turn the rejection into a blessing in disguise. There’s more to JC life than just CCAs, and so much more to look forward to.
All in all, CCA Trials do not define your worth or your competence. While your trial outcome might scream “unsuccessful” at you, you are anything but.