This is a common concern, and something I remember vividly thinking when I first came into TJ. In fact, I had the option to go to the Loudoun Academy of Science (commonly thought as ‘Loudoun’s TJ’), where grades would not have as big of a problem. After three years, however, I can confidently look back and say I made the right decision by choosing TJ. The fact of the matter is that even if you don’t perform as well as you may hope in the beginning, the curriculum and experiences that TJ offers are those that you simply can’t get anywhere else. The quality of education is unparalleled, and TJ has access to resources that many colleges envy. Moreover, grades aren’t as bad as some people make it out to be; freshman year is a time where you can get yourself situated at the school, and grades are relatively light. You don’t really need to start worrying about grades and GPA during freshman year; the teachers are understanding and are trying to get you interested in the subject they teach, not overwhelm you with impossibly hard tests. If you really feel that the workload and curriculum is too much, it’s definitely possible to drop back to your base school and continue high school there. I recommend that everyone apply to TJ (even if you think you don’t have a chance), and if given admission, try freshman year to see how it goes. I have seen countless people undergo a complete mindset change over the course of the first semester, and I’m confident that it will be the same for future classes. The bottom line is, grades aren’t necessarily the most important thing. If you go into TJ with a positive mindset without worrying about how hard it may be, you’ll soon forget about the worries about grades and workload, and have an unforgettable time at one of the best schools in the Country.
Updated: Feb 26, 2021
A few years ago, I was a Glasgow Middle School student and TJ applicant. In the years leading up to 8th grade, I had noticed that many of my peers were excited about the prospect of TJ but ended up not applying or not taking the exams seriously. I realized this hesitance came from uncertainty: Not knowing what the test can be about, not knowing what TJ is like, and fear of not fitting in. Information was sparse and not well explained.
At the end of A Bronx Tale, C says, “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent...” I thought if only all those brilliant minds took the admission process seriously and were informed about the options available to them at the nation's leading High School. I wanted to do something about it.
In freshman year at TJHSST, I found an answer. I joined an exciting club called GEMS (Glasgow Engineering Math and Science). We have worked to develop STEM interest as an outreach program to Glasgow Middle School. In our visits, both the sponsor of our club and a Counselor at Glasgow encouraged me to share my experience of how to prepare for the admission process with prospective applicants. We realized that many students were not informed or simply did not know where to start. Wanting to help, we improved our outreach system to share with a larger student body using web tools in the past 2 years.
Recently, we have launched this newly redesigned website offering many more tools for prospective applicants to be informed, to learn more about TJ culture, and material to guide preparation for students all cross Northern Virginia. In the future, GEMS and an extended community will share our experiences of preparing for the admission process and managing life successfully after joining TJ. Everyone here has a unique story. We will try our best to bring you as many perspectives as possible including students who pursue sports, music, and more non-STEM hobbies in their free time or even in their course curriculum. TJ is not only home to aspiring scientists but also fine arts majors who take advantage of our leading and unique courses. The TJ community is diverse in all aspects, so please do not fear the application process.
If you are aspiring to join TJHSST, we welcome you to use this student-driven self-help system containing what you need to learn to be informed and prepared. By visiting this page, you have shown the only thing you need to start: Interest. The Path2TJ team wishes you the best of luck and feel free to reach out with any questions.