Students debate whether the stress of getting into TJ is worth the value


As TJ’s class of 2027 acceptances inch closer, many Carson students discuss whether or not TJ is worth it or not and if the college application benefits were worth the mental stress reported by students. 

FCPS’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is the Number 1 public high school in America, according to the U.S. News and World Report.

Many students do consider TJ the best possible option for high schools and the best possible option to get a leg up in college applications and jobs. 

“For STEM it’s the top school in America,” said Sarv Palanievel, an eighth-grader on the Voyagers team.

The application process and requirements  for TJ has been subject to many changes over the years, but the current process is lengthy and takes many months of work. Students must have an unweighted GPA of 3.5 or higher. They must also be taking Algebra 1 honors or a higher level math course; however, the requirements are not the only elements of TJ acceptance. Applicants must submit an application to the school and take a timed problem solving essay test.

Although it is the Number 1 public high school in the United States, there are some additional things that come along with it. Being the number 1 high school in the United States, there’s a significantly greater workload compared to other high schools across the nation. Since the high school only takes students in Algebra 1 Honors or higher, a lot of the content will be harder too. If you get into TJ, and are taking Geometry in ninth grade, the content will be more challenging compared to standard Algebra 1 in ninth grade. 

TJ has a 100% graduation rate and 99% college acceptance rate, which are significantly higher than the county average of 88% graduation rate and a 71% college acceptance rate, and 28 students from the class of 2019 ended up in Ivy League schools, along with seven who ended up at MIT and three who ended up at Stanford. 

“It’s a great school, if you are willing to put in effort and enjoy science,” Sreyes Dasadari, eighth-grader on the Explorers team. 

The positive statistics tell a piece of a very long story, and among TJ students there are very high documented levels of stress and sleep deprivation. 

According to the FCPS Challenge Success Survey, 77% of TJ students report feeling “often or always stressed about schoolwork,” and 75% report experiencing a “stress related health symptom in the last month.” 

Health symptoms of stress can include the following:

  • constipation or diarrhea
  • indigestion or heartburn
  • sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • sweating
  • blurry vision
  • panic attacks
  • difficulty breathing 
  • chest pain
  • high blood pressure

Some students do not see the benefits of TJ for various reasons, and some do not think it is in any way worth the stress of getting in and the academic rigor required to be on par with other students.

“It’s a good school for STEM related things, but no so great for English and civics,” said Ansh Agrawal, eighth-grader on the Voyagers.

Sarv said, “I don’t think it will be all that good for colleges because there are plenty of other things I can do for college.”