Thomas Jefferson School - Review #1

Thomas Jefferson School

About the Author:

College Enrolled Wesleyan University
Home Town, State (Country) St. Louis, MO
Years Attended Boarding School 4
Activities During Boarding School Newspaper: reporter/cartoonist, four years Art Club: co-founder/vice president/president, four years Italian Club: founder/president, two years

Reflections and Advice:

1.) What do you think makes your school unique relative to other boarding schools?
while T.J. advertises itself as a bastion of classical education, I think that its size and its English program really make it stand out. English at Thomas Jefferson is a serious matter; students learn the mechanisms of language and literature from the inside out. Small classes ensure that none manage to avoid learning. Cliques also have trouble forming in such an environment.
2.) What was the best thing that happened to you in boarding school?
Oh, I have definitely grown and changed as a person. I've honed abilities I had no idea I would ever possess; I've grown more socially confident; I've developed more personal initiative.
3.) What might you have done differently during your boarding school experience?
TJ was shockingly, horrifyingly, incredibly impossible for me to cope with when I first came, but it became manageable before too long. TJ made me more capable than I ever thought I could be. I wish that I hadn't worried so much about my abilities in my freshman year.
4.) What did you like most about your school?
Cookie break, a midmorning snack set out every day by the benevolent kitchen staff. The collegiate campus. The exceptional nap opportunities. The strange and brilliant people I met there. The art.
5.) Do you have any final words of wisdom for visiting or incoming students to your school?
I take care to dip each of my words in a bath of minerally enriched wisdom before setting them out in cyberspace. However, I would like to make special note of Pandora Magazine, an extraordinary but sadly overlooked student publication.


1.) Describe the academics at your school - what did you like most about it?
Students spend roughly twice as much time on homework as they do sitting in class. This unique arrangement fosters independence and allows for flexibility. Classes are small and discussion-oriented, and teachers are available for individual help during much of the morning and afternoon. Everything students learn is difficult but worthwhile. This intimidated me in my freshman year, but after I adjusted (and everyone does), it was what I most appreciated about TJ. The school I attended before assigned a lot of busy work, educational gristle, that frustratingly taught me nothing at all. To extend the meat metaphor: while teachers assign many hours of homework a night, clever students learn what to trim from their nightly workload.


1.) Describe the athletics at your school - what did you like most about it?
TJ athletics are outstandingly optional. While it does feature several varsity sports for those who enjoy them, it also offers alternatives -- yoga, t'aichi, beginning tennis -- to accommodate those with other interests.

Art, Music, and Theatre:

1.) Describe the arts program at your school - what did you like most about it?
The arts program is small but growing, mostly due to student initiative. The last few years, for example, a group has produced and performed its own plays.

Extracurricular Opportunities:

1.) Describe the extracurriculars offered at your school - what did you like most about it?
Again, student initiative plays a large part in extracurriculars at TJ. There are only a few official activities, but many start their own clubs or groups.

Dorm Life:

1.) Describe the dorm life in your school - what did you like most about it?
I was a day student, and so didn't live in my dorm full-time, but it was nice to have a place to work and sleep and hang out in the afternoon.


1.) Describe the dining arrangements at your school.
Dining is family-style, with student waiters carrying several dishes to the tables where students and faculty both eat. In addition, there's a salad bar, a table with bagels and sandwich ingredients, a temperamental toaster, and a separate vegetarian option at every meal.

Social and Town Life:

1.) Describe the school's town and surrounding area.
There are some cheap restaurants and stores close to campus. A bit farther away, there's the Loop, a small district teeming with used record shops, good places to eat, and local hipsters. The Pageant sometimes gets some good bands, and even David Bowie graced the Fox Theater with his presence last spring.
2.) Describe the social life at your school - what did you like most about it?
Everyone becomes friends with everyone else at a small place like TJ. Social life is mostly casual -- lots of hanging out and chatting. There are also some more exciting events.

Daily Schedule:

8:00 AMBreakfast
8:30 AMClasses and free periods.
12:00 PMLunch
1:00 PMVarious afternoon activities: sports, labs, homework, sleeping, all-school or club meetings on some days.
5:00 PMHome for day students, including me.
10:30 AMCookie break
5:45 PMDinner
1:00 AMSome meals, some activities, a lot of down time.

Alumni Reviews
  Review School

  • Review Description
  • Wesleyan University
    while T.J. advertises itself as a bastion of classical education, I think that its size and its English program really make it stand out. English at Thomas Jefferson is a serious matter; students learn the. . .
  • University of Richmond
    Thomas Jefferson academics are extremely rigorous and are the central focus of the student body and faculty. That said, the school has broadened the variety of extracurricular activities and options over the last few. . .
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