TJ Information Sheet and Personal Statement Guidelines --Suggestions and Helpful Hints for Semifinalists
From Mrs. Wang’s Download
Class of 2011 Admissions
Suggestions and Helpful Hints for Semifinalists
Congratulations on becoming a semifinalist! You are now beginning the second round of the
Completing Your Student Information Sheet
All semifinalists applying for admission to the freshman class (9th grade) at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) must provide the Admissions Office with a completed Student Information Sheet, which asks applicants to list their four most important academic and their
four most important after-school/out-of-school activities, accomplishments, and interests from grades 6, 7, and 8 only and to complete a brief personal statement.
The Information Sheet is your opportunity to tell the selection committees a little bit more about yourself and the activities that are most important to you, so you will want to take your time preparing this form.
The selection committees will use your Information Sheet to get an idea about who you are, what your interests are, and what you have learned from your various experiences over the past few years, so that they can determine how strong a candidate you are for admission to TJ.
Nuts and Bolts: General Questions Regarding the Information Sheet
Q: Do I have to use the form provided by the Admissions Office?
Yes. The Information Sheet must be completed on the form provided to you by the TJHSST Admissions Office. You can use the form included in the packet you received when you were notified of your semifinalist status or you can use an electronic version of the Information Sheet that is available on the admissions website.
Q: Can I fill this form out online?
This year, the online form is a fill-able form that you can complete online. You also can just print an extra blank copy of the form. If you complete the Information Sheet online, you still must print out your completed form, sign it, and turn it in to the TJ liaison counselor at your school.
Q: Do I have to fill out the form online?
You do not have to fill out the form online, although you might want to give it a try. You may hand write your Information Sheet, type your entries onto the sheet on a typewriter, or type them into a word processing file and literally cut and paste (scissors and glue) your entries onto the Information Sheet.
If you hand write your Sheet, please use a pen with black or blue ink and PRINT neatly.
DO NOT use a pencil (your sheet will smudge and be difficult to copy and read).
If you cut and paste from a word processing file, please do not use a font size smaller than 10pt for your text. Smaller fonts can be very difficult to read. Make sure that your entries fit into the boxes provided. If you cannot see the boxes on the form when you finish pasting in your entries, you need to do some editing.
Q: Can I write on the back of the Information Sheet, or attach another sheet of paper to the Information Sheet?
No. You must fit everything you write into the boxes provided. You may not continue onto the back of the Information Sheet. You also may not include attachments to the Information Sheet. The selection committee members will only read the information provided within the boxes on the Information sheet.
Q: Oops, I made a mess of my form. What do I do?
If you need another copy of the Student Information Sheet, go to our website and print another copy of the form. It does not matter if you do not submit back to us the original form we sent to you. We make copies of all of the materials in the application packets for the selection committees, so they will not know whether you submitted the original form or a copy of the form.
Q: Can my parents help me with my Information Sheet?
Your parents can help you brainstorm ideas for the activities you might include on your Sheet and they can help you edit (for example, if you need to shorten what you wrote) and proofread your Information Sheet,
BUT your parents may not, and should not, write any part of your Information Sheet. (P.S. When they do, we can tell!)
When you complete your Student Information Sheet, you must affirm to us that everything you have written on your Information Sheet is truthful and that you alone composed and completed the Sheet.
No one other than you should be writing the Information Sheet.
Q: Do I need to mail in my Information Sheet?
If you attend a public school (or if you attend a private school that has a designated TJ contact, i.e., the person to whom you turned in your application), you should return your Information Sheet to the designated counselor/principal at your school who oversees TJ admissions by the deadline you have been given (the counselor may give you an earlier deadline than our final deadline for his/her own scheduling purposes). The counselor will be coordinating all of your new semifinalist materials (information sheet, counselor sheet, and teacher recommendations) and will return all of your forms to the Admissions Office. We prefer that you give everything to your liaison counselor. They help us
keep track of the thousands of pieces of paper we receive at this time.
If there is no designated counselor or principal for TJ admissions at your school, you can mail your Information Sheet to: TJHSST Admissions Office, Holmes Annex,
Make a copy of the sheet for your records before you put it in the mail! You also can hand-deliver your Information Sheet. We are located in the annex behind
Q: How will I know if you received my Information Sheet?
If you give your Sheet to the liaison counselor at your school, we will get the form. The counselors
are very careful and reliable. If you do not have a liaison counselor at your school and you are
mailing the Sheet, send the form certified-mail, return-receipt requested or ask for Delivery
Confirmation if you want to know if we received your Sheet.
Please do not call the admissions office to check on whether or not your forms have been received.
If any of your forms are missing, we will contact you. We make sure that all application files are
complete before they go to the selection committees.
PLEASE MAKE A COPY OF YOUR INFORMATION SHEET FOR YOUR PERSONAL RECORDS.
Getting Started: Activities, Interests and Accomplishments
The first two sections of the Student Information Sheet require you to describe in detail your four
most important academic and your four most important after-school/out-of-school activities,
accomplishments, and interests from grades 6, 7, and 8 only. The step-by-step guidelines below will
help you get started on preparing these important sections of your form.
First, read the directions page of your Information Sheet carefully. Make sure that you follow
these directions as you prepare your Information Sheet. Then, begin working on a draft that
explains in detail your involvement in each activity, accomplishment, or interest you decide to
Start by making a copy (or copies) of the blank Information Sheet form (you can print one out
online at www.TJAdmissions.org) and begin by jotting down the items you may want to list in
each category (or do the same exercise on a blank piece of paper).
Brainstorm (by yourself or ask your parents to help you remember). Look back over your
activities in school and outside of school in 6th, 7th and 8th grade, and ask yourself which of
these activities (or interest or accomplishments) you might wish to share with the selection
Some possible brainstorming questions that might help you get started are listed below:
• Are you on any math teams, such as your school’s math team or Math Counts team?
• Have you competed in a Math Olympiad?
• Have you competed in math contests at school (such as those sponsored by Virginia Math
League, Continental Math League, Challenge-24, American Mathematics Competition, or
• Have you been awarded any math prizes or awards (such as Best Math student or a gold or
silver medal for a contest)?
• What level of math are you presently enrolled in at your school? Are you taking an advanced
or accelerated math course?
• What areas of mathematics are of particular interest to you?
• Have you been given advanced or independent math work to complete?
• Have you tutored other students in math?
• Have you attended any enrichment programs in mathematics outside of school (such as afterschool
or summer programs)?
• How do you use math in your everyday life (for example, do you enjoy puzzles or games that
require you to use your math and logic skills, or are you the math “expert” in your home)?
• Do you have any hobbies that involve mathematics?
• Have you ever competed in a Science Olympiad?
• Have you ever participated in a Science Fair? What was your project?
• Have you been involved in Odyssey of the Mind or Future Problem Solvers at school?
• What science class are you enrolled in this year (is it a GT or Honors class)?
• What projects have you done in science class that have been of particular interest to you?
• Are you in any science-related clubs (such as a science club or an environmental club)?
• Have you done any independent research on a science-related topic at home?
• Have you attended any enrichment programs in science outside of school (such as afterschool
programs or summer programs like the TJ Summer Tech Institute)?
• Have you taken any science-related courses on-line?
• Have you taken any field trips that are science-related (such as science museums, exhibits
related to science at other museums, trips to parks)?
• Have you gone on any family trips that included activities that were science-related?
• Do you use science in your everyday life? How?
• Have you attended any summer camps with a science-related theme (such as Space Camp or
computer camp) or science-related activities?
• Have you been involved in science-related activities in other extra-curricular activities (such as
• Do you regularly read magazines related to science, or science articles in general magazines,
or the weekly “Science” section of the newspaper?
• Are you interested in a particular field of science, or in a particular science-related career?
• Do you have any hobbies that involve science?
• Have you taken any computer or technology-related courses (in school and outside of
• Have you worked as a technology assistant at your school (such as Webmaster or tech
support team member)?
• Are you proficient with any software applications (such as Microsoft Office, Word, Power
Point, or Excel)?
• Do you have any experience working with computer hardware (such as building computers or
installing RAM or a power supply on your computer)?
• Have you taught yourself how to use computer applications or software?
• Have you ever designed a Website?
• Do you surf the Net? What do you search for?
• Have you ever done any Computer-Assisted Design projects?
• What software do you regularly use and enjoy (such as Visual Home, Roller Coaster, or CAD
• Do you use the computer for other activities (such as in volunteer work requiring computer use
or in work on publications that require computer use)?
• Have you taught anyone else how to use a computer or any computer applications?
• Do you use a digital camera?
• Are you involved in school television production, or have you used technology as a member of
the tech crew for a school play?
• Have you ever used a GPS system?
• Have you ever attended a Virtual Reality Tech Camp?
• Do you know how to use a graphing calculator? What can you do with the calculator?
• Do you have any technology-related hobbies (such as gaming or robotics)?
• Are you a member of the National Junior Honor Society? What are you doing to fulfill your
community service requirement for NJHS?
• Did you receive a President’s Academic Excellence Award in 6th grade?
• Have you been awarded a President’s Physical Fitness Award?
• Have you attended the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program?
• Are you involved in school government or in class leadership? Are you an officer?
• Are you a peer mediator at your school?
• Have you competed in any spelling or geography bees? How did you do?
• What school clubs do you belong to?
• Do you play a musical instrument or sing? Which instrument do you play? How much do you
play/practice every week?
• Are you in your school Band, Orchestra, or Chorus?
• Do you take private music lessons?
• Have you ever done Solo or Ensemble competitions?
• Have you been in any school plays? Are you involved with the school television station?
• Are you a Scout, or a 4-H member, or a Camp Fire Girl? What badges have you enjoyed
• Do you play sports? Are you on any teams?
• What kinds of volunteer or community service activities have you been involved in?
• Do you have a job or business of any kind (such as babysitting, lawn mowing, or website
• Do you attend language, cultural, or religious school after school or on weekends?
• What are your hobbies or interests?
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Once you have a list, you probably have many more activities, accomplishments, and interests than are required for the form. Decide which four academic activities, accomplishments, and interests, and which for after-school/out-of-school activities, accomplishments, and interests are most important to you.
Then, begin writing your detailed descriptions of those four academic activities, accomplishments, and interests, and four after-school/out-of-school activities, accomplishments, and interests.
Remember to keep the TJHSST Mission (included on the instructions page) in mind as you prepare this important document
Commonly-Asked Questions about Activities, Interests and Accomplishments
Q: Do I have to list only school-related or other organized activities?
No. You can list school-related activities, such as classroom projects, science fair projects, participation in school clubs (such as the math or science team), and organized activities outside of school, such as computer courses, special summer programs, sports teams, music lessons, etc. You also can list activities you participate in on your own that can demonstrate your interest and activities in various subject areas, such as reading science magazines monthly, doing independent research in an area that fascinates you, teaching yourself (or someone else) a new skill, hobbies, jobs, etc. No types of activities carry any greater weight or significance to the selection committees than others.
Q: How detailed should I be?
You should provide as much detail as possible regarding each activity, accomplishment, or interest that you list, keeping in mind that your responses all must fit within the boxes on the form. Do not just list your activities.
An entry that merely states: “I was on the Math Team in 8th grade,” or “I did a
project on cells in my 7th grade science class” is not complete.
** Describe what you do on the math team, how often you meet and compete, and what you enjoy about the team. Describe the class
project, what your specific topic was, what research you did, and/or what you learned.
** Give examples of what you are doing so that your interests or activities are very clear.
** A lack ofdetail could make a difference during the final selection process.
Q: Can I list more than four activities, interests, or accomplishments for each category (academic and after-school/out-of-school)?
No. You are asked to identify no more than your four most important activities, accomplishments, orinterests in each category. Part of the exercise you are asked to complete with this form is to articulate what activities or interests you have had over the past three years have been most important to you. The exercise is not to produce an exhaustive resume of everything you have done.
The selection committees will only read the first four activities, interests, or accomplishments you write in each category. If you lump four or more under one of four bulleted spaces on the form, the remainder of your bulleted items may not be read. Follow the directions on the form.
Q: Do I have to list four activities, interests, etc. in each category (academic and afterschool/out-of-school)? Will I hurt my chances for admission if I list fewer than four activities in a category?
You can list fewer than four activities for each category, especially if the other activities (or activity) you list in that area demonstrate a commitment of a significant amount of time, energy, and/or effort on your part. Just make sure that you provide a lot of detailed information for the entries you do include. You should try not to leave any section completely blank, but if you really do not have anything to include under a particular section, do not make something up just to fill the space. Every
response on your Information Sheet must be truthful.
Preparing the Personal Statement
The personal statement is your opportunity to tell the selection committees why you want to come to
respond to the following question:
“What excites you about being a student at TJHSST?”
Before you begin writing, spend some time thinking about how you will answer this question and outline your thoughts. You might want to look at the brochure you received with your application, Information for Applicants, or at the TJ Website (www.tjhsst.edu) to help you during this process.
Then, write at least one rough draft of your statement. Don’t worry about the word limit at this drafting stage; just get your thoughts down on paper. Then, you can begin to edit and refine your statement so that it says what you want it to say in a clear and concise manner.
As you prepare the final statement that you will submit on our Information Sheet, make sure that your statement is no longer than 250 words. (If you complete your form electronically, you will quickly be able to see whether you have gone over the word limit.)
Proofread your statement carefully (don’t just do “spell check”)
for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Before you submit your form to the TJ liaison counselor at your school, you must sign the Information Sheet in the space provided at the bottom of the page and affirm that:
My signature below certifies that all the above responses are truthful and that I have composed and
completed this sheet by myself.
Double-check to make sure that you have signed the sheet before you turn it in. If the Admissions Office receives an unsigned form, you will be called to come to the Admissions Office to sign the form.
DATES & DEADLINES TO REMEMBER
Counselor Info Sheet Due Immediately
Student Information Sheet Due Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Teacher Recommendations Due Tuesday, February 20, 2007
(completed by teacher by this date)
Notification Letters Postmarked Friday, April 6, 2007