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Taming the Overachieving Monster


By Callie Schweitzer

 Taming the Overachieving Monster Podcast


Seventeen-year-old Chicago senior Kyle S. knows what it's like to be stressed. An A student, he is involved in his school's drama club, the school newspaper, and participates in the local Chicago Children's Choir. In addition to a heavy load of AP and IB courses, Kyle has started applying to college. He hopes that his best will be enough to live up to his parents' standards for him.

As more and more students strive to be accepted to the nation's top colleges, even "safeties" have gotten increasingly more difficult to get into, and kids feel an enormous amount of pressure. "You begin to question yourself...if this girl was written up in Time magazine but didn't get in to a prestigious college, I need to do more," Kyle says.

Parents may start out grooming a soccer star or a violin virtuoso, but the ultimate prize for the overachiever's family is the "right" bumper sticker for the family car, indicating their "family's" acceptance to a competitive college.

"I just want my parents to let me deal with things on my own," says Newark high school senior, Charlotte A. "I feel personally stressed when my parents are on my back about getting my work done."

Kristen M., a 17-year-old New Jersey senior, says, "There is more pressure to be the best-of-the-best now. Adults need to help kids find realistic goals instead of pushing them beyond their limits."

Readers' Comments

Penny Hastings, CA 12/10/08

Nowhere is the pressure more extreme than on the student-athlete who is expected to excel in the classroom as well as on the playing field, plus doing community service and whatever else they can fit into their harried schedules. Alan Davids makes a very good point. It's hard not to pressure kids to succeed when the colleges themselves seem to want more and more from the student applicants. However, there are thousands of colleges and universities in the U.S. Most kids will get a sound education from just about any one of them. What makes such a pressure cooker for kids is that they (and their parents) want them to go to the most elite. In athletics, too many parents and kids feel that the NCAA Division I schools are best. Not so! They are perhaps the most sports competitive, but many other schools have excellent athletic programs and top-notch academics. Students (and their parents) should open up their searches and stop pressuring themselves (their kids) to strive for the most well-known or prestigious schools.

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