The Suite Life

TJHSST Student Services News

By the Student Services Team
Student Services
June 05, 2020

Welcome to Issue #5 of our Virtual Suite Newsletter

Weekly Focus:  Managing Uncertainty Together

We've had a busy month here in Student Services getting ready for and then seeing our Class of 2020 graduate this week.  One of the questions that our principal, Dr. Bonitatibus, asked the graduates as they came to the school for their socially-distanced diploma collection and photo opportunity was "What is a new or old skill have you learned or worked on during this time?".  Our newest TJ graduates have been baking fantastic breads, cooking elaborate meals, making pasta and pizza from scratch, playing chess, learning the ukulele, taking free online courses, reading books, watching their favorite series on TV, skateboarding, biking, video gaming, coding, connecting virtually with friends, writing in their journals, catching up on sleep and more!  They are excited to move on with their plans for university, gap years, job and volunteer opportunities and life!  They realize that getting into college is not an endpoint. They have acquired the skills for lifelong learning that will help them in college and beyond.  We are very proud of them and wish them the best.  Our graduates received an engraved Class of 2020 compass and we hope they'll remember they can always find their way home to TJ.

As a TJ family, we are managing this time of uncertainty together.  We will continue to rely on each other for support, encouragement, and guidance.  There is new information coming out daily about changes in SAT and ACT testing, college admissions deadlines and requirements, summer programs, as well as what school for us will look like in the Fall.  While it may seem overwhelming and confusing, know that you have the tools, the resources, and the community here to guide you.  We are truly all in this together and we are here for you!  Do you need something?  Have a question?  Reach out to us!

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What's making life sweet this week in Student Services?

All TJ counselors spent time greeting the Class of 2020 as they collected their diplomas this week!  Ms. Hamblin, Mr. Burke, Ms. Ketchem, and Ms. McAleer each snapped a selfie with the iconic TJ Dome!

4 counselors in front of the iconic tj dome

Class of 2021 Rising Seniors Info

Class of 2021 Google Site (student G Suite login required) | FCPS resource that is being centrally updated with information regarding College and Career exploration.  Students, you can find information on the Common Application process and a great video on the college admissions process that is a must-watch for students and families. Check it out here:  Applying to College

Parents can access links for the same information through FCPS 24/7 Learning:  Blackboard→Counseling, College and Career Readiness

Media and Blogs with helpful insight into the college admission process: 

Forbes Education by Brennan Barnard includes this great article:  Virtually Possible:  Locking Down the College Search during a Global Pandemic

Georgia Tech Admissions Blog

Notes from Peabody: The UVA Application Process by Jeannine Lalonde


DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL TO YOU!  Colleges want to know how you spend your time outside your academics.  


CRAFT AND HONE YOUR FIT COLLEGE LIST considering these elements:   

  • Academic→What course of study does the student want to pursue and are they academically qualified?  Is the student looking for study abroad? Co-Op?  Research Opportunities?
  • Social/Emotional→The college atmosphere aligns with the student's personality and preferences (geographic, size of institution, diversity).  Where will the student feel comfortable and fulfilled?
  • Financial→What can the family afford?  Never assume you can "figure out the financials later".  The FAFSA4caster is an eligibility tool that can help you plan what Federal Student Aid might be available.  Be sure to consider the Merit Scholarships available at your FIT schools and follow the necessary timelines to be considered for them.  Have honest discussions about schools that are financially feasible.  


Create your Common Application account (you can create your Common Application account now but you cannot enter your recommenders and submit the FERPA release until the August 1, 2020 date.) 

Similarly, if your chosen colleges use their own application or the Coalition Application you can create those accounts as well.  We’ll go over more of the logistics of the application process in September with you, but it is important to know that FCPS does not pair Naviance with the Common Application for transcripts or recommendations. 

Look at the applications for those schools on your FIT college list.  Start jotting down ideas for their respective supplemental essays as these are the essays that best highlight your FIT and interest in the school.  Admissions representatives tell us these supplemental essays are often overlooked by students yet are the most instrumental to an application as they reveal the “why” behind a student’s fit for that particular college.

Notes about SAT and ACT testing:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the available dates and opportunities to take these tests is limited.  Please consult the College Board and ACT websites respectively for the most up to date information.  Many colleges and universities are in the process of reviewing their testing requirements and many are going test optional for the 2021 admissions cycle.  Do your research and determine what the colleges on your FIT college list are asking you to submit.  

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All Grades Info


The FCPS curated list can be found in Naviance Student.  Naviance Summer Enrichment and Scholarship List is still being updated by FCPS; however, students and families will have to confirm on their own that programs are continuing as information changes daily.  We recommend reaching out to those programs that students had applied to previously to see if the programs will offer remote or virtual opportunities. 

Naviance→Colleges→Research Colleges→Enrichment Programs

Some virtual opportunities listed recently:

Virginia Tech Science Un-Camp

Communication Camps at American University

Code Connects Summer Camps

DMVHacks Summer Classes

Drexel Summer Institutes

Traveling Players Ensemble Camps

NACAC Virtual College Fairs

Virtual STEM Career Exploration Sessions

Parent Information | Distance Learning Support

The FCPS Parent Resource center workshops can be accessed on their YouTube site here:   Workshops for Parents

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Questions?  Reach out to us in the Suite.

This newsletter contains links to one or more web pages that are outside the FCPS network.  Neither FCPS nor TJHSST controls the content or relevancy of these outside pages.

aAdvertisement of these opportuniies does not constitute sponsorship or endorsement of the sponsoring organization or the enrichment opportunity by the Fairfax County School Board, the Superintendent, or a specific FCPS school. Many opportunities utilize Zoom, an online technology video and web conferencing tool that has not been approved for use in FCPS by the FCPS Department of Information Technology. Numerous outside organizations are utilizing Zoom to provide services and resources to students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students should gain permission from their parent or guardian before engaging in any non-FCPS enrichment opportunity and families should review and agree to the Terms of Service and User Agreements for Zoom before participating.