An out-of-state perspective on governor's schools


Humor columnist Dorothea LeBeau breaks down what Governor’s Schools mean to an out-of-state student.

Max Patten | Cavalier Daily

If you came to the University from literally anywhere other than Virginia, you already know what I’m talking about when I mention Governor’s Schools. As in, you have absolutely no idea what they are, but you’ve definitely vaguely heard of them at some point. Most likely someone totally casually brought one up in conversation, and you experienced that moment of confusion and panic that occurs when someone throws out the name of some Virginia program like you’re supposed to be impressed.

The conversation always starts fairly normally. They ask for name, year, major, blah blah blah. But be forewarned, they will always have an ulterior motive. If they’re an Echols scholar, they’ll ask where you live so they can try and indirectly flex on you. If you don’t know what this means or what dorms have to do with the honors program, keep it that way! You’re absolutely better off not knowing or engaging with what Echols scholars say, ever.

But sometimes, the person you’ve engaged in conversation has actually achieved nothing in college thus far. And because of the fact that they have lived in a bubble of superiority their entire lives, they cannot just accept the fact that they may be completely average at the University. This period of first-year delusion is when they are at their most dangerous and unstable. A wrong answer could cause them to lash out with wild abandon, making reckless statements about being pre-comm and getting a 4.0 GPA every semester. This is why it is important to tread carefully around creatures such as these.

The conversation is always innocuous enough, at first. “Where are you from?” they might say, innocent and deceptive as always. They don’t care about the answer, of course, and almost assuredly are just waiting for the noise to stop so they can get to the more important question, although not before they assure you of the fact that they are, in fact, a NOVA kid. 

“Yeah, I’m from AlexFallsFax, it’s like 20 minutes outside of D.C. haha. So like, what high school did you go to?”

Wait. Full stop. I’m from Missouri, dear readers, and the first time this question was asked it absolutely blindsided me. What high school did I go to? Whatever I said to them would mean absolutely nothing. Chances are they couldn’t even find my city on a map, let alone have heard of whatever random high school I attended. But it is generally not polite to exclaim “Why did you ask me that?” during casual conversation, so I kept it on the inside and answered, as I assume you all did as well. But before you can even return the question, they are already answering, desperate for the validation that comes from knowing they outrank you in every conceivable way.

“Oh that’s cool. I went to T.J., haha. The full name is Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, but I assume you already know that from when it was printed on your rejection letter. Did I mention it’s a Governor’s School? Not like that’s a big deal or anything, I’m just saying it takes a special kind of person to succeed in one. You can see my transcript if you want. I had a 4.0, but I carry it around in case people don’t believe me.”

Now, if you went to a Governor’s School, you may already be protesting this characterization. “Surely I don’t sound like that,” you might think. “I’m not like other NOVA kids, after all. I’m better, as you can obviously see by my admittance into 3 different honors programs.” But I can say with complete certainty that you are actually the most average NOVA kid to walk these hallowed halls, and it shows most in your Vineyard Vines clothes and your smug air of superiority from getting into a school that draws 70 percent of their student body from in state.

I know this article may be a hard pill to swallow if you think being in a Governor’s School was impressive or if you believe that being from NOVA makes you smarter than other people. But please, as a personal favor to out-of-state students, in-state students that don’t care and everyone else at the University who is just as qualified to be here as you are — just be quiet and do your work. Maybe if you achieve something in college we’ll actually pay attention to what you have to say.

Dorothea LeBeau is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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