TJ graduates attend a wide variety of colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad. By their own accounts, they feel comfortable and confident dealing with the challenge and independence of college right from the onset. Excellent preparation for college is the hallmark of the TJ experience.
As a college-preparatory school, TJ will instill in you the skills that will ensure your success in college and help you gain admission to colleges that are the appropriate fit for you. Over the school’s history, 100 percent of its graduates have gone on to attend college, and a large number have continued their education in graduate or professional schools.
Every student receives a great deal of individual attention throughout the college-application process. A team of experienced faculty members serves as college advisers, guiding you through the process, helping you develop a realistic list of choices, and offering advice on writing personal essays. They also spend many hours following up with colleges by phone and email.
We strive to help you gain admission to colleges that offer the best academic, social, and financial fit for you so that you will go on to be happy and productive at the college you choose. By this most important criterion, our college-admissions outcomes are outstanding. View our School Profile here.
Frequently Asked Questions about TJ’s College Guidance Program
When does college counseling begin?
Ninth graders are encouraged to think about what activities and clubs to join as well as what kind of community service projects they would like to undertake. Sophomores are encouraged to come to some college visits and attend a college fair. They will have some group meetings with one of TJ's college counselors to discuss how to prepare for standardized tests and how to jump start the college search in the spring. Juniors will have monthly Wednesday afternoon classes starting in September and continuing throughout the year to familiarize them with the complexities of the college application process, prepare them for standardized tests, and develop their resume of activities. During the winter and spring the counselors schedule individual meetings with all member of the class (and usually their parents) to talk about college possibilities, respond to their ideas, and offer suggestions.
Each senior has a college adviser (one of the three counselors) to help with applications, to shepherd him or her through the process, and to write secondary school reports. Students’ application essays are critiqued as well. Though the school provides some oversight, seniors are responsible for keeping track of their own deadlines and requirements.
How does the school educate parents about the college-application process?
There is an information session with a financial aid officer from Washington University in St. Louis to educate parents about how to pay for college; usually this session is held in October. We also meet with parents of juniors individually either in person or by Skype or Facetime to discuss the college application process. The school also sends out periodic bulletins to parents of juniors and seniors on current issues in college admissions.
How well do colleges know TJ?
The school maintains contacts with a wide variety of colleges and is constantly developing relationships with new ones. The counselors take every opportunity to discuss Thomas Jefferson and its standards, to hear news of each college and learn about its admission criteria, and to form or maintain a personal relationship with an admission officer. When we know of students who have an active interest in a particular college, we may advocate on their behalf as well. We may also link them up with any young TJ alumni at the college to hear firsthand how things are going for them. Conversely, we encourage colleges to visit TJ. Each year, this results in nearly 40 visits between early September and late November by college representatives.
How does a college know how to interpret TJ grades?
Attached to every transcript that goes to a college is the school profile. It shows the school's uninflated grading standards graphically, with an extensive list of where students have gone to college (organized by Thomas Jefferson GPA range). The counselors make many phone calls to colleges during the application season to add information about our students, find out how they are faring in the process, and make sure each college understands our grading standards. The colleges are happy to see how clear our profile is, particularly in its explanation of our grades and where our students go to college.