W4, #8: THE OVERACHIEVERS

Set-Up: Alexandra Robbins — author of a NYTimes Bestseller, Pledged, a complicated look at the culture of college sorority life — has also written a book entitled The Overachievers: The Secrte Lives of Driven Kids that chronicles what life is like for more and more high school students given today’s pressures to achieve and be accepted by top colleges.

Snippets: From the inside book jacket, these caught my attention:

“You can’t just be the smartest.  You have to be the most athletic, you have to be able to have the most fun, you have to be the prettiest, the best-dressed, the nicest, the most wanted.  You have to constantly be out on the town partying, and then you have to get straight As.  And most of all, you have to appear to be happy.” — C.J., age seventeen (one of the real students followed for this book)

and

“High school isn’t what it used to be.  With record numbers of students competing fiercely to get into college, schools are no longer primarily places of learning.  They’re dog-eat-dog battlegrounds in which kids must set aside interests and passions in order to strategize over how to game the system.  In this increasingly stressful environment, kids are defined not by their character or hunger for knowledge, but by often arbitrary scores and statistics.” — editor’s comment

Challenge:

  • Share your reaction to these two ideas given what you’ve already experienced in school up to your 10th grade year.
  • While some of this may reflect what you’ve literally experienced at this specific school, you should feel free to refer to ‘life in general’ as an adolescent in our society.
  • Just make sure you are keeping in mind the implications re: school and the pursuit of college (and life after high school).

Length: 7+ sentences

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34 responses to “W4, #8: THE OVERACHIEVERS

  1. It can be maddening. I’m so glad that I don’t want to go to Harvard, because then I’d have to work at least five times as hard as I already do. Everything I do would have to stand out – I can’t even imagine the amount of community service hours I’d need!

    It’s weird: I work so hard to get good grades and stuff, and every now and then my mom will say, “Relax! Just get a B!” I have to tell myself sometimes that that’s okay. Otherwise, I’ll end up toiling away my childhood years.

    Besides, when I think about it, if I were a person deciding who would and wouldn’t get accepted to a college, I think I’d rather have someone happy and well-rounded in work/play rather than someone overworked and deprived of character.

    But maybe that’s because I’m only a sophomore. I still have time.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Three things caught my attention in your response:

    1. “I have to tell myself sometimes that that’s okay. Otherwise, I’ll end up toiling away my childhood years.”

    2. “…if I were a person deciding who would and wouldn’t get accepted to a college, I think I’d rather have someone happy and well-rounded in work/play rather than someone overworked and deprived of character.”

    3. The sense of humor added at the end. Yes, you have time, but don’t give up on your healthy/balanced attitude along the way!

  2. First Idea

    I don’t agree with this idea at all. I don’t care if I’m the “prettiest, best-dressed, the nicest, the most wanted”. Popularity in high school doesn’t matter to me. Yes, it is great to have friends and have people to hang out with, but your standing in their eyes shouldn’t matter if they are your true friends. Being smart is a necessary quality for real life and beyond high school, and being athletic can only help you, but why should I spend all of my life worrying that I wasn’t invited to the latest party?

    In the end, despairing about following the latest fashion trend will only distract me from what really matters in life. I’m slightly confused with this quote, “most of all, you have to appear to be happy.” Be happy for whom? I don’t feel like I need to act a certain way so people will like me or make friends with me. I just act like myself, that’s all you can ever ask of a person truly. All of these attitudes and opinions may be felt by some people, but it definitely does not apply to me.

    Second Idea

    I am a very competitive person; I always want to be on top, so this idea does make sense to me. The terms the author used for describing school sounds exactly like “Ender’s Game” to me. Quotes like “dog-eat-dog battlegrounds”, “strategize over how to game the system”, and “kids are defined not by their character or hunger for knowledge, but by often arbitrary scores and statistics” sound exactly like it. Sometimes I do feel like school is a battle, who ever comes out on top with the shining A+ is the winner. To get over this feeling, which creates a ton of stress, I just have to tell myself that it is not a competition and at the end of the day how I do is all that matters.

    Colleges have become extremely competitive and hard to get into, it is weird to think about a class where everyone is just like me or better than me in terms of abilities and intelligence. It is scary to think that college admission workers have what, 10 minutes per application? That is a very short amount of time to separate yourself from the 5,000 other applicants with the exact same scores as you and the same qualifications as you.

    I feel like the ‘college process’ has been looming over my head for years and is about to come crashing down around me. Am I good enough? Can I be better that the other thousand kids? Who knows, all I can do is work as hard as possible to get better.

    ***

    Mr. Long: This caught my eye: “Colleges have become extremely competitive and hard to get into, it is weird to think about a class where everyone is just like me or better than me in terms of abilities and intelligence.” Very true, esp. given where you already are, a place full of bright and creative people. Even more so at the next level.

    Powerful: “I feel like the ‘college process’ has been looming over my head for years and is about to come crashing down around me. Am I good enough? Can I be better that the other thousand kids?” I think many will empathize with you.

  3. In my opinion it is important to be a double threat in high school. To accomplish that you need to be academically strong in a way in which you can stand out to colleges, and it’s important to be involved in athletics and have strength in a certain sport. I disagree with the first idea, it’s important to be intelligent but not to the extreme of trying to be the most popular. And I think student 2 said it best, “Being smart is a necessary quality for real life and beyond high school, and being athletic can only help you, but why should I spend all of my life worrying that I wasn’t invited to the latest party?” Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s necessary to have social skills. But not trying to dress in the latest fashion, no student needs that pressure or distraction.

    In my experience of high school it has been incredibly competitive. Whether it’s trying to make Head Masters list, or trying to make varsity on the basketball team. But in the big picture which is even more intimidating, your competing against the nation. That’s why its important to be unique during the pursuit of college.

    Mr. Long: Interesting phrase: “double threat”

    Also drawn in by your comment that you’re “competing against the nation”

  4. My reaction to this type of books and articles (The Secret Lives of Driven Kids) is generally negative. It feeds the stereo type that studying hard and being obedient is somehow bad or lacking in character. I find that for the most part, it demonstrates character of a person when he forgoes a party to do homework or do a volunteer job. It tests your desire to do the right thing. I don’t accept that doing the hard but right thing is “playing the game” and scores are “arbitrary.” That has not been my experience at all. Scores do reflect your work ethics, and following the rules involves your character. Yet the stereo type is the opposite—it’s not cool, you are a nerd, to do the right thing. The book and article seem to bolster this type of popular cynicism.

    Of course, one could take things to the extreme is all there is in life. There are those who believe and act as if they are superior or better than others just because they made straight A’s, and they deserve all the jeers and sneers they get. I find that if a person is truly smart, that person would realize how little they really know and act humbly. Even if they made all the right decisions and studied as hard as they could every day, they have no right to be smug and act arrogantly. There is always someone who is smarter and studied longer. Still, just because there are some sophomoric snobs and so on, the system is not “dog-eat-dog” and arbitrary. Mostly, in my real life, the competition is within my own “self.” Do I let the lazy side of me win today or do I let the hard-working side of me win?

    We are reading in European History class that it was the power of scholarship and learning led by Erasmus that led Europe into Renaissance and Reformation. If there is fierce competition to get into Harvard, and students are playing by the rules and studying hard and practicing hard, I believe it is a good thing for our society. Whether or not one makes it into Harvard, he would be a better off and our country would be better off, when he tries his hardest to make it. Young people owes it to themselves to try to make it, and not hide behind excuses and cynicism.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Something that caught my attention and had me nodding:

    “I find that if a person is truly smart, that person would realize how little they really know and act humbly.”

    Overall, a striking response with a great deal of energy/thoughtfulness showcased in an effort to deconstruct the snippets you were given.

  5. I think this is very interesting you bring this up. I know mostly everyone at Oakridge has a hot flame held under us all the time. Either pressure from the parents to make good grades, no matter if you’ve tried hard or not, or pressure from yourself striving to do your best no matter the costs. I agree with student #1 how sometimes “I have to tell myself sometimes that [it’s] okay.” So I take a big breath, relax, and then the fierce but whispered voice of college and my dreams enter my ear and I panic once again. I really think this time “in the rabbit hole” (aka high school) is for me to figure out how to balance my love of knowledge with my passion of acting. I have also realized that ‘this is not a test’ This is real life, and anything and everything I learn is now for a reason, not just to complete the grade level.

    Now, getting back to the statement at hand. Yes, there is an enormous amount of pressure coming at us from all different directions. As a line from Fiddler on the Roof says, “If I try and bend that far, I’ll break.” I think that when pressure is coming at us, we get bent and stretched and pulled; we get challenged. I think it’s how we respond to that pressure is what makes the difference. Like many of the students who responded, I don’t take pressure from school and the ‘new trends.’ I see them, but I know it won’t matter 20 years from now what brand of a t-shirt I wear. Who cares? But often times some of our generation don’t come to grips with that.
    As for the editor’s comment, I love it how he describes the high school life basically as a battlefield. He said, “[h]igh school isn’t what it used to be.” My mother says this to me, also. She says it was so different with the teaching styles, different pressures, everything. I love listening to her talk about her childhood. She had so much time, but she graduated as one of the top in her class even still. She talks about 4H club, climbing trees, scrap booking, and family time. My heart drags whenever she talks about how much time they spent together as a family. We never have that time because I am always studying or doing projects. There is pressure there for me because I want to have family time, and make memories that I can tell my children, but I want to succeed in my schooling, too.

    One last comment. The editor also says “And most of all, you have to appear to be happy.” Wow. I think this is so true in today’s society. I sort of wrote a song of this and how we say stuff, but so often we truly don’t mean it. I stand in awe to see how the English language can be so powerful yet be used as a habitual lie everyday in our lives.

    “How are you?” That phrase is something that I ponder. Mostly all the time we don’t even know that we are asking the most important question of the day. It can have so much potential, but we don’t acknowledge it. We answer “fine”. But not really mean that either. But what would we say? (Hypothetically) “Terrible, my parents are getting divorced, my grandma just died, I got an C on my last test and I got in a horrible fight with my brother this morning which made me late to school.” How would anyone respond to that? So we do have to appear happy in any situation. We always have to ‘have it all together’ 24/7.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Our society — perhaps many societies around the world — seems prone to asking certain ‘polite’ questions without really asking something that is meant to be answered with real details. In college, you’ll hear the “How was your spring break?” question a lot, even though you sense the asker isn’t really listening to any potential answer; it’s more of a nod than a conversation.

    As to what someone would do if you were very truthful, especially if the answer was very different from the positively polite question? Might make a fascinating study whether you gave real answers or really bizarre answers that appeared nonsensical at first. Sometimes it can be fun to catch someone off guard with an innocently random response.

    Alice and I love this: “I really think this time “in the rabbit hole” (aka high school) is for me to figure out how to balance my love of knowledge with my passion of acting.” Best of luck finding your balance; both are vital to the ‘soul’.

    Absolutely powerful and humbling in its truth: “My heart drags whenever she talks about how much time they spent together as a family. We never have that time because I am always studying or doing projects. There is pressure there for me because I want to have family time, and make memories that I can tell my children, but I want to succeed in my schooling, too.” One of the other students above wrote about being able to handle this well, in spite of working incredibly hard. Suppose that one’s attitude dictates whether we are in control or victims of such a reality. I think I can tell what side of that line you’re on.

  6. Well, I’ll have to disagree with the first quote.

    High school is changing in a lot of ways. I’ve noticed that there’s hardly any stereotypical high school students around. If I walked through the halls I wouldn’t be able to point out “the rich kid” and “the snooty one” and “Miss or Mister Popular”. Nowadays, I think students are trying their hardest to prove that they’re “different” and “alternative” and if you asked the students if they cared about being popular, only about ten percent would admit to it, and everyone else would say, “I don’t care what people think of me. Whatever.” Maybe I only get this impression from this school, because I do realize how little I’ve been exposed to as opposed to other schools whose graduating classes exceed Oakridge’s entire population. But out of everyone who responds to these blog, I’d be surprised to see that the majority of people say they think that it IS stressful trying to be the smart party dude that everyone likes.

    The second idea, I would think, is true. There are a record number of people competing for their dream colleges, and lets face it, not many of those dreams will come true. Competition for Ivy League schools and scholarships are getting tougher and tougher because everyone is trying to step up their game more than the next guy. But hey, a little competition never hurt anyone, and all we can do is prepare for the Great Assignment ahead and hope we get what we wanted, and above all, hope that it was worth it.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Appreciate how you open up your response:

    “I’ve noticed that there’s hardly any stereotypical high school students around. If I walked through the halls I wouldn’t be able to point out “the rich kid” and “the snooty one” and “Miss or Mister Popular”. Nowadays, I think students are trying their hardest to prove that they’re “different” and “alternative” and if you asked the students if they cared about being popular, only about ten percent would admit to it, and everyone else would say, ‘I don’t care what people think of me. Whatever.'”

    While people (aka ‘students) have always been unique/different and marching to the beat of their own drum, it wasn’t until recently that ‘different’ became a badge of honor (or ‘courage’, for you literary types). There is NO way that my 1980’s HS experience would have embraced a school full of ‘different’ kids; if you did try to go your own way (including the stretch of time I wore an old military beret to school with cut-off pajamas as ‘shorts’), the silent pressure took its toll (unless you just had a strong backbone and a sense of humor about it all). Today, however, the media seems to have given permission for ‘geeks’ and all those that break the ‘traditional’ social standards to be seen in a positive light (which I think we are all well served by).

    While social pressure is still social pressure, and its easier to ‘fit in’ that go your own way, we seem to finally grasp that a ‘collage’ of characteristics that create a funky ‘gestalt’ (ask me what this means, if you Google won’t tell ya’) might make the planet (or our little chunk of it) a more compelling place to call home.

    Like the “Great Assignment” line, BTW.

  7. The first quote is very true in alot of unique ways. People do try to act like someone better than who they really are, most of the time doesn’t always work out the way they had planned. Especially girls, they always try to be the prettiest and there is nothing wrong with that, but getting to the point when your not being yourself at all. Not exactly the most attractive thing in the world. Colleges want to know you not someone you can try to act the most like. High school IS a competition wanting to be the “nicest, prettiest, and most wanted” but you wont have many friends if all you do is try to be somebody your not, nobody will know the real you and never know you.

    Second quote: Alot of teenagers try to study the most, get the best grades to get into the best college. Some of the time they get declined and all that hard work gone to waste to not get into the best college they wanted. Thats alot of pressure to put on yourself to study all the time and no time for anything else. I think people should ‘seize the day’ enjoy life while it lasts. Shouldn’t have to worry every day of your life about going to college, worrying doesn’t get you anywhere. Events will happen during your life in their own time, just let things fall into place. Just do and hope for the best.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Well said, especially re: being our ‘true’ selves: “Especially girls, they always try to be the prettiest and there is nothing wrong with that, but getting to the point when your not being yourself at all.”

    You have NO idea how true this really is: “Colleges want to know you not someone you can try to act the most like.” Well, maybe you do. (he smiles)

    Final thought: all that ‘hard’ work never goes to waste even if a student doesn’t get into their ‘dream’ college. Why? For a student/human being who does that work to expand their world view (not just ‘get into’ a college) finds that that knowledge, work ethic, and sense of curiosity gives them the ‘world’ no matter where they go.

    Plus, it turns out that being well ‘matched’ to a college – not just getting into one that is ranked high – is the key to thriving there.

  8. I agree with the second statement completely.

    I know firsthand ALL about the pressures of grades. I am pressured by my parents every day to get straight A’s. If I come home with an A or A- the first response is “What Happened!” like those grades are bad or pathetic. I do agree that I need to work my hardest and make the best grades I can, but between swimming and school and not getting to bed before 12 or 1 in the morning it can be maddening ( and I don’t watch TV, believe me if I could go to bed earlier I would!).

    Colleges have become very competitive, they are looking for the smartest most athletic and only chose those who they proclaim to be ‘well rounded’. No I don’t really want to go to an Ivy League but the way adults put it, it seems that even local colleges are impossible to get in. I also agree that school is a bit of a competition, we are all competing for those few spots in colleges and it seems like every grade; quiz, homework, daily, counts. This competition makes school seem like a place for battle not a place for learning. For when you learn you make mistakes and mistakes in school work are no longer allowed.

    I don’t really know that much about the second statement in terms of the pressures of being popular. I think the last time I cared what others thought of me was the beginning of seventh grade. Then I was trying desperately hard to be part of the ‘popular crowd’. Needless to say, I thank God it didn’t work out because I have been so much happier sense. I am not trying to be rude but the reason I don’t really care what any one thinks of me is because I don’t like people. Yes, I like individual persons and I care what they think, but people in general not so much. This is what has caused me never to be pressured to party or watch the latest episode of ‘The Hills’ or what not. I guess it’s what caused me to become the ideal teenager in adult eyes (I mean come on in my free time I write!)

    Over all high school is very stressful but the competition for the most part is fun! It’s what groups different students together, either the competition to be smart (nerdlings) or the competition to be popular. In the long run making straight A’s will probably be good for the soul and come on with high school, college and grad school left I only have a decade to go! Yay!

    ***

    Mr. Long: What I wouldn’t give to have a group of parents, teachers, and students — all thoughtful and curious — debate/discuss this point of yours: “This competition makes school seem like a place for battle not a place for learning. For when you learn you make mistakes and mistakes in school work are no longer allowed.”

    Had me smiling/nodding: “I don’t really know that much about the second statement in terms of the pressures of being popular. I think the last time I cared what others thought of me was the beginning of seventh grade. Then I was trying desperately hard to be part of the ‘popular crowd’. Needless to say, I thank God it didn’t work out because I have been so much happier sense.”

    BTW, I can’t wait to show you and your classmates one particular episode of “The Hills” soon. Gonna crack you up. And think.

    My fav w.o.r.d.?

    Why, “nerdlings”, of course. Makes me wanna rush out an adopt one. Or be cool enough to be one.

  9. In general, I think that both of these statements have merit in the lives of high school students. Especially since we go to a college preparatory school like ous, there is added pressure to work hard and be successful.

    Our teachers often tell us that this is the year we need to get serious and even though we are still only sophomores, we are beginning to realize that college actually isn’t very far off. On top of the pressure from our parents and teachers, now it seems like we have to compete with our peers. Like the first statement said so well, you can’t just be smart anymore. You feel like you have to play 3 varsity sports, be the president of the Spanish club, have the most friends, and make perfect grades, all while pretending you are completely balanced and calm.

    It makes me nervous when three weeks into school I’m already stressed out and up until 12 doing homework. I think to myself, if I can’t even get through sophomore year without freaking out, how in the WORLD am I going to survive in college?

    I’ve heard countless times how when I apply to the school of my choice there are going to be 800 other people just as smart, nice, funny, and friendly as me. I’m going to have to really stand out and leave an impression if I want to get in. I understand that, but sometimes it just gets overwhelming. I feel like yeah I’m pretty smart, but there’s always something I can improve. There is always some advantage that someone else has over you.

    Still, I guess we can’t always think about it that way. If we spend all our time worrying about other people, we won’t have as much time to really work on ourselves. Honestly, from now until senior year my philosophy is just to take a deep breath, and take each day as it comes.

    ***

    Mr. Long: This will serve you incredibly well deep into your adult life, my friend: “Honestly, from now until senior year my philosophy is just to take a deep breath, and take each day as it comes.”

    Studies have been done to see what it takes to be ‘successful’ in college.

    One would think that one’s HS grades would actually be the #1 reason that future college success occurs.

    Turns out that it does. For the 1st year of college. Only.

    In other words, researchers have seen a 1:to:1 ratio between the grades a student has in HS and the grades they get their first year of college.

    After that year and all the way through graduation, ‘success’ in college turns out to be directly related to several other elements: passion for what the student studies, ability to explore a wide range of experiences/programs/events, leadership instincts, etc.

    While that does NOT mean that HS grades do not matter — they have a huge impact on ‘getting into’ college — the bigger skills have to do with how one ’embraces’ the academic/life opportunities that college offers, esp. the ability to be seen as a ‘leader’ who is ‘passionate’, hence someone that others want to trust and add to their ‘team’.

    Hang in there. You have several attributes — including a wise soul and compassion and curiosity — that will serve you extremely well throughout your life…including ‘in’ college.

  10. These two quotes completely embody every pressure felt by the students of America.

    These pressures are ones which cause some students to excel and others to self destruct. The reason for this is that in previous generations groups of students have formed depending on their interest and talents. In modern day every student is expected and advised to get in involved with multiple clubs and sports while still focusing on their academic career. This is not at all a negative situation because our society is attempting to groom more well rounded individuals but a great deal of responsibility comes with this. If a student is not able to focus all of their energy on their academic career and their clubs, sports, and community service due to financial or familial problems this puts them in a very difficult situation. This is what leads individuals to participate in drugs and the drinking of alcohol because they simply want to relieve the great deal of pressure they feel.

    As a society we have made great efforts to inform everyone that drinking and drugs among other things are bad but perhaps we should focus more on why some teenagers do participate in these things. Small private schools are very fortunate in that the students are truly allowed to have a good relationship with their teachers and this is a situation which allows students to learn more information and truly feel more comfortable. Though public schools are effective as well there is not a close student teacher relationship that ensures the student is doing well and if they are not improving the situation. Expectations should not shift for those students who have difficulty in their home life but perhaps extra support should be given to them through a better understanding of time management as well as the importance of family versus school.

    Many teachers are very flexible in this area and this creates a great morale among the students because they feel like their teacher truly is on their side. This feeling of understanding creates respect and a want within the student to truly improve both academically and as a person. As expectations for students continuously shift due to the advancement of society talented teachers as well as friends are all students require in order to excel in and truly enjoy life.

    The pressures of high school may partly have to do with the expectations of teachers and the work involved but many are also self induced. The quote mentions the competition present in the schools and this is very true but also very necessary. Humans will due as little work possible throughout life until someone threatens to harm their pride and this is when we push ourselves. If no competition were created in the schools then everyone would fail to reach their full potential and this is terrible. If as students we are not forced to try multiple sports and studies how will we truly learn what we are talented in.

    Though much of this discovery comes prior to high school much of it comes throughout those last four years. The ability of a student to reach outside their ‘comfort zone’ and truly try different things is appealing and a great quality for college. And every aspect of high school no matter how tedious is a preparation for college. Many students work hard to ensure that they are accepted at the college of their choice no matter what it takes. This attitude is great in many ways but is also quite intense. Many students participate in areas of their school and community that don’t truly interest them but they claim ‘this will look great on my resume.’

    It is simply strategy to many to view high school as one giant resume and this is a disheartening fact. High school is about preparation for college but it is also about growing as a person and creating life long friends and finding out who you want to become in your life. If we do not continuously emphasize that it is not all about the grades and the resume students tend to forget and become obsessed. Work ethic is a wonderful skill but when coupled with obsession it is a disease. Students must allow them selves to breath and enjoy their experiences because though high school is full of pressure it is also full of possibility.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Wow: “Work ethic is a wonderful skill but when coupled with obsession it is a disease.”

    If I could pass the following forward to every adult in the United States that is a parent and/or a teacher, I would: “As a society we have made great efforts to inform everyone that drinking and drugs among other things are bad but perhaps we should focus more on why some teenagers do participate in these things.” Out of the mouth of babes, so to speak. And so well said.

    And good point re: “self-induced” stress, too.

    Finally, I’m pleased that you do have teachers that you feel are giving you ‘solace’ in times of enormous stress/pressure. Luckily we go to a school that has a default setting in this way, even we ‘old folks’ aren’t perfect or if we miss some moments along the way. Part of the reason I chose to work here a year ago was because I was blown away by the level of sincere concern that the teachers felt for the students, even when they were pushing all of you very hard in the classroom and on the field/stage.

    The ‘resume’ point would be a savvy debate topic, BTW.

  11. Whoever wrote this book has the right idea. You have to be everything but yourself and this causes alot of pressure because not everybody is going to be pleased with you at all times no matter how perfect you are. However, I think that you don’t have try please everyone but yourself.

    School isn’t really for learning. If school was for learning than grades wouldn’t be a deal. I don’t necessary learn that much in school, I just know how to memorize and cram facts into my mind. And it’s not my fault that I have the attitude that school is not for learning. School goes way too fast for learning. In school we quickly go through chapters without spending enough time to fully understand the material. Also competition is not necessary for learning. Actually competition is detrimentral to learning. People learn at different paces and trying to treat them all the same doesn’t help any one.

    But there is no point in complaining; Life isn’t perfect. Now I know that is a pessimistic view, but I also believe that the world isn’t necessarily “dog-eat dog”. I believe that it is Us vs “The System” not Me vs You vs “The System”. It’s always better to work together to acheive a common goal than to fight like pitbulls and push other people down in the mud.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Have to believe that many of your classmates will agree with you internally; hopefully publicly, too.

    Provocative line: “School goes way too fast for learning.” This would make an intriguing conversation.

    Think you’d be intrigued by Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligence Theory”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences that comes from his book called Frames of Mind: http://books.google.com/books?id=_vLmG9qEROgC&dq=multiple+intelligence+theory&pg=PP1&ots=vnk_IqyEr1&sig=WvQVmNtukz90FOKNAUda8bVcX_k&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result It’s actually in the faculty room if you’d like to borrow it sometime; I’d have no probably checking it out for you.

    This part of your response definitely caught my eye; curious if everyone will agree about competition not having a influence on learning. In all situations?

    You said:

    “Also competition is not necessary for learning. Actually competition is detrimentral to learning. People learn at different paces and trying to treat them all the same doesn’t help any one.”

    If you have time, explain this a bit more. Can you think of any time when ‘competition’ may help some types of people learn? Are there different types of ‘competition’ in school, or is it all the same? And do the rewards and risks matter?

  12. I agree to both statements, though not entirely with the first one.

    Yes school has become more and more difficult and challenging for all students. Constantly worrying about if their grades are going to be good enough to get them into that one “dream” college. But on top of all the studying most people also have to do extracurricular things like sports or student council which gives them even more stress and pressure to deal with on a day to day basis.

    I believe in hard work and dedication, striving to become the very best, but I don’t think that you should “bite off more than you can chew” per say. Those overachievers that tend to always write that extra page on their essay get A+’s, but what if it’s an assignment where anyone could’ve received an A just by doing the minimum? Sure it’s great to have the philosophy and mindset of “do more than what’s asked for” but is it really healthy to live your entire life like that? People ad students alike have to give themselves a break once in awhile. Doing more than what you have to all the time is unhealthy and might eventually turn you into a workaholic than a person who can just sit down, relax, and just enjoy life for what it is.

    As for the second statement, I totally agree.

    Colleges, although they are looking for people that have good character and personality, are going to become more focused on what’s on the paper. That one hundredth of a point or that extra hour of community service that one does or doesn’t have could be what separates from a full ride scholarship and nothing at all. Being accepted into college has been nagging at me from the back of my head ever since I went into high school as a freshman. I know that I’ll have to work hard, try my best, and realize that there are many people in this world who are either just like me or are better.

    ***

    Mr. Long: A provocative statement: “Sure it’s great to have the philosophy and mindset of “do more than what’s asked for” but is it really healthy to live your entire life like that?” I’d love to hear what others would offer in agreement/response/challenge.

    To be honest, the following is not entirely true…although I do believe the perception is very true. You said:

    “Colleges, although they are looking for people that have good character and personality, are going to become more focused on what’s on the paper. That one hundredth of a point or that extra hour of community service that one does or doesn’t have could be what separates from a full ride scholarship and nothing at all.”

    These fractions of points allow you to ‘enter’ the admissions pool…but once you are ‘in’ it, it is what you uniquely bring to the school that will allow you to be accepted. Harvard routinely denies Valedictorians and 800-SAT scores…because once you are a potential candidate, they are able to seek the truly unique that have a chance to alter the way campus operates and the way the school culture forms.

    The old joke (and it’s not really a joke) is that if you want to go to Harvard, do NOT try to compete by virtue of grades, SATs, community service hours, and the rest of the standard stuff. Sure, many of their students did well on those fronts, but so did the 90% who were rejected. Instead, move to Montana (etc), work on a farm, be home-schooled, write a book about your experiences, and start a community project that improves people’s lives…

    …and be able to passionately ask Harvard, “Why will my life be improved by being a student on your campus?”

    If I were an admissions officer, which would I rather have: the student with all the ‘right’ (but ‘obvious’) elements or the student who is able to challenge the university to work hard to get them?

    Obviously this (moving to Montana) is not possible for most students, but the spirit of the equation is one that I would argue is of tremendous value for any HS student who wants to go to any college (including all that do not start with “H”).

    Overall, however, I really dig your mindset about finding a balance. Hold onto that while also developing your ‘voice’; the voice, and the confidence that you’re following your own path, is what will make a college dream of having you on campus…and you finding the right match(es).

  13. I would have to agree and disagree with the first statement. To most students, it is very important to be the most athletic and popular. Being the best- dressed is one of their top priorities. But none of those things are that imperative to me. Don’t get me wrong, being well rounded is essential but having good academics will take you far in life. Something like being on the Headmasters List is far more important to me than having the most expensive purse. Also, I love that last line, “you have to appear to be happy.” It captures the truth in more ways than one.

    I couldn’t agree more with this second statement. It isn’t that “dog-eat-dog” right now, considering we are in the 10th grade, but students are already fighting for grades that will make them stand out from others. High school is already stressful due to the need be better than others. After all, colleges want students who are outstanding in their academics. Students are already concerned about their SAT scores in the 9th grade. Colleges want to see higher scores from students, making high school a very competitive environment.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Two intriguing points in your 1st paragraph:

    “Don’t get me wrong, being well rounded is essential but having good academics will take you far in life. Something like being on the Headmasters List is far more important to me than having the most expensive purse.”

    “Also, I love that last line, “you have to appear to be happy.” It captures the truth in more ways than one.”

    Well said on both fronts. And I’m smiling because even though my wife owns a couple of amazing (and expensive) purses, she’d toss ’em in the dumpster in a heart-beat if she thought for a second that she was perceived as being more about fashion than her brain/skills/heart.

  14. When I read the first quote, I pitied “C.J.” Then again, if she (I am assuming) is happy stressing over her grades while trying to make sure her makeup is applied perfectly, that is fine with me. However, if she is spending so much time trying to be popular and hoping to “appear happy” rather than actually being happy, I do pity her.

    Honestly, I do not think the college you are applying to will worry whether or not if you were invited to “Buffy’s sweet sixteen”, if you had a good academic career. I understand colleges want you to be great at everything, but I hope they only want that if you are truly interested in those activities and not just wanting to put them on your resume. I have read and been told by many more people that colleges want you to be good at the things you truly enjoy and not just “form fillers.” I try not to get caught up in popularity because I think the competition over all the things mentioned in the first quote is only important to the high school students caught up in them. When you think about it, there is not a place on college applications where you mark your popularity ranking.

    After reading the second quote, I had a bit of a minor “freak-out.” I disagree with the quote on some points. I understand that the person reading your college application doesn’t really care about you mastering scrabble, but I think your “character and hunger for knowledge” will show up on the application. Your character is displayed in your letters of recommendation and your hunger for knowledge is proven through your grades and test scores. I do agree that students must “strategize” but I don’t think they have to “set aside” all their interests. Yes, I do think that the college process is very stressful and that it is mostly what “university hopefuls” spend much of their time thinking about, but I don’t agree that most set aside their interests like some kind of robot. Some students may drop everything else in their life to focus on their application, but I hope I won’t. I will, however, work extremely hard to do the best I can but I won’t let the stress rule my life. Picking a college and the whole process involved is supposed to be somewhat stressful, but it is supposed to be fun also, you are molding your future. I know I don’t want to stop living my life and having fun to focus solely on somewhere in the distant future.

    Sometimes it does seem that universities are solely interested in “perfect” students, that they are marketing themselves by competing for the “best” students. I suppose there is an element of that at work. I have to wonder is all this competition real, or is it induced by parents intent on proving yet again how great they are.

    All I know is, I don’t want my future to be so overrun with stress that I can’t enjoy myself every now and then.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Been thinking a bit about your first paragraph. Wondering if her comment is less about what she wants to be and more about what she instinctively feels she must be, even if it has never been formally said or imposed. Your thoughts?

    Compelling point re: colleges wanting sincere passion. As someone who used to do admissions work, I can tell you that it comes through loud and clear when someone truly is passionate about something on their ‘application’ vs. someone who has simply ‘filled’ the categories in an effort to appear well-rounded. The other side of the coin is that more and more families/students are putting even more effort into all the ‘extras’ that the break-even point has risen. Still, however, a young person applying with a legitimate passion they have deeply pursued is always sought after by colleges, esp. if they’ve proven they can perform at a high level over time.

    Love this point you made: ” I do agree that students must “strategize” but I don’t think they have to “set aside” all their interests.” I think you’ll be fine, quite fine!

  15. I can definitely agree that high schoolers have too many expectations to strive to live up to. At our school, for example, the new freshmen have to take six sports credits. WOW—some kids are very athletic and do not have a problem with taking a lot of sports, but other kids are very academic, constantly worried about the time, and are too stressed out to do a billion things at once.

    Parents, teachers, and trainers all expect children to do well in everything, and the truth is that it is very difficult to be well-rounded. I don’t exactly agree with the author when she mentions that high school children are expected to party. I don’t think that it would be a merit on a college résumé if partying were put on there. But in another aspect, friends, under peer pressure, might encourage their fellow peers to go partying.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Very interesting response re: the athletic credits. Clearly the school is focused on helping everyone be as well-rounded and experienced as possible, but no doubt some students feel enormously pressure by this. And as you said, it’s a definite challenge to be truly well-rounded if you’re passionate about one or two things instead.

  16. Reaction to the first quote:

    I read through most of the entries above and read the responses of others. I have to nicely disagree with the others. In life yours looks, your status, your attitude, and your extra curricular activities are a very large deal not only in your college experience but also in your life after school. Colleges these days do look at your looks, they want to make sure you will fit their ‘wants.’ In everyday life who knows who you might see today, and how they might be able to help you on your journey. Maybe it’s for an inside job, a great reference, or maybe just a normal conversation. They could possibly help you, but if you look like a mess no one is going to want to write that letter of recommendation for you. Colleges do look at your extra curricular activities. Although some colleges do want their students to be 100% dedicated to their studies, most colleges theses days look for someone who can balance their lives; someone who can play a sport but still handle a 3.0 or higher.

    Reaction to second quote:

    I do feel the pressure of the 10th grade starting to kick in. My grades at the end of this year will be sent to the colleges of my choice, I have to have impressive ones to knock out the other thousands of applications. I have to stand out amongst all the others. People in our grade are already battling it out for salutatorian and valedictorian honors. As the author said ‘dog eat dog’ it truly is this. We are fighting for the hard work we have done up until this point. And then come the ACT and SAT, main parts of your college applications. It’s scary to think of all the things we have ahead of us, and everything we have to do to prepare for theses drastic changes.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Curious about one thing. What do you mean by this: “Colleges these days do look at your looks, they want to make sure you will fit their ‘wants.’” How do colleges even know what you look like (esp. since most do not go in for a face-to-face interview or supply a photograph)? Does “looks” mean something else?

    So true: “In everyday life who knows who you might see today, and how they might be able to help you on your journey. Maybe it’s for an inside job, a great reference, or maybe just a normal conversation.”

    Mmm: “It’s scary to think of all the things we have ahead of us, and everything we have to do to prepare for theses drastic changes.” Yes, true…but you also have an amazing array of discoveries and opportunities coming your way if you remain curious and willing to respond creatively over time.

  17. I agree with both quotes. From what I have been told by both parents and teachers and from what I have seen, colleges want the most “well rounded” and the smartest students they can get. Grades are very important but I think colleges want good grades as well as well rounded individuals as insurance that you have the other skills you can obtain from community service and the arts that help teach us, the students, how to give back to society and our schools. If students from the more “prestigious” colleges have more of these unique skills I think it is more likely that we can do great things and this gives the colleges a kind of bragging right. The graduates of colleges are almost advertisements for the college and the more people interested, the more money the colleges will get. Besides just the college, the students also gain a lot from graduating from the best schools and colleges by getting better job opportunities and meeting less limitations in their career’s. I have experienced this push for success a lot during school and it is seen by the variety of classes available and those classes being available earlier and earlier every few years. We start learning a secondary language in elementary school and with awards such as the Honor Roll or Headmaster’s List, we strive to obtain these and are very pressured for it.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Really appreciated the 2nd half of one line in particular: “…as well rounded individuals as insurance that you have the other skills you can obtain from community service and the arts that help teach us, the students, how to give back to society and our schools.” Intrigued by the “insurance” point in particular.

    Great debate idea: “The graduates of colleges are almost advertisements for the college and the more people interested, the more money the colleges will get.”

  18. Sadly… and reluctantly, I have to agree with both ideas.

    I believe that high school students have a natural yearn for the limelight. Being the “most athletic”, “the most fun”, “the prettiest”, and the “most wanted” all describe our desire to be the center of attention. We don’t want to be rejected by other people, so therefore we yearn to be everything at once. People who can achieve this ‘everything’ are the ones we look to — they are the ideal person we should be. Without that, you are deemed as ‘unworthy’ by others… and being a good student while in a state of rejection is very hard to maintain. I experienced this for two years in a row — when I moved to Maryland and back, I was the new kid. Finding the motivation and the drive to actually be a good student was hard; there was nothing for me to strive towards. I knew no one, they didn’t know me, and I had no goals. College, at the time, wasn’t important. Attention was… and still is for nearly all students. It affects how you think and how you act. I am by no means saying that this attention factor influences everything in your life. However, it still does play a part in it, and it affects you subconsciously. I admit this with reluctance because I try not to let other people shape my life… but in life, you ARE shaped by other people and what they think of you. That’s the sad truth.

    As said by Student #3, “…but not trying to dress in the latest fashion, no student needs that pressure or distraction.” Yes. No student NEEDS that distraction, but we are distracted by it nevertheless. It’s natural to want to fit in and to keep up with everyone else. That’s human nature… and human nature is always caught up in the petty, insignificant things.

    The second statement is also pessimistic and harsh, but it’s true. Colleges nowadays don’t really care about how much a student wants to learn. They see the numbers and the scores printed on the students’ report cards, and that’s what influences their decision. Will Harvard pay a shred of attention to the average kid who expresses the desire to learn? Of course not. They’re more interested in the student who receives the top marks in the school, regardless if that student is willing to learn. The desire to learn doesn’t exist as a reason for acceptance in college: numbers and scores do.

    “[Schools are] dog-eat-dog battlegrounds in which kids must set aside interests and passions in order to strategize over how to game the system.” To me, this is the most striking quote from the second excerpt you took. I will admit that I am VERY competitive, and I try hard to stay at a 4.0 grade average. Though also dictated by my parents, getting a B on a report card is pretty much unacceptable for me. Why? The attention factor is most likely taking its effect here. We want to be recognized. We WANT the attention. It’s like a cancer: it inevitably spreads, mentally exhausts you to your limit, influences and nags at you constantly, and there’s no way to stop it (unless you rip out the very core of it — unless you exterminate that part of your personality; and that’s not something easily done).

    ***

    Mr. Long: Can’t help but agree with you on one key point: “No student NEEDS that distraction, but we are distracted by it nevertheless. It’s natural to want to fit in and to keep up with everyone else. That’s human nature… and human nature is always caught up in the petty, insignificant things.” Human nature (while dynamic and ever-changing) is a pretty powerful agent in our lives/decisions.

  19. I think every student has a few things that they are great at and to be all the smartest,prettiest,and most athletic there would be no diversity in our schools. I think that colleges look for people who are well rounded but they dont always judge on the students who won prom queen or the quarterback of the football team they look at people who are bright, smart (to there limit), and someone who looks like they could have a good impact on their school.

    Everyone no matter who they are are going to be pressured and told who they should and should not be, but the thing most people dont think about is that just because you dont fit in to a certain click doesn’t mean you dont have any future ahead of you i think that everyone has some kind of idea of what they want to be the problem is sometimes tits hard to show it. I have learned that being yourself isn’t always going to be the most fun but if one would just think about there future and say “I am going to be ok bc i know who I am and i will show everyone that i have talents that some college will want” they will be ok.

    The world we live in today everyone is picked on, everyone has a flaw, and everyone has something about them that stands out. I think that many kids try to fit in when they were born to stand out. I think that many decisions we make affect a lot of things in our lives but I also believe that if someone wants to achieve a goal and they cant do it alone i think there is someone who could help them. I have been in high-school only two years and honestly there are a lot of qualities that are the normal like everyone looks down at the freshman, the nerds get talked about from time to time. But arent we all in the same shoes at one point in our lives?

    I think that people are so judgmental that they ignore that at one point everyone has a time in there life where they feel they have to be the best and the greatest at everything, when really being yourself, in the end, plays out so much better. So i think that high school is just a stepping stone in the many leaps we take to get to college,jobs, a family, and to the rest of our live. I just think that sometimes if we could take five minutes and think that if everyone was perfect what kind of life would we be living, there would be no qualities in people you could look up to, I think that people would understand that life is about diversity and changes constantly, so why not take a chance and show the world who you really are. Thats what I believe.

  20. I know exactly what they mean when they saw overachievers. High school is becoming more and more to much to handle. It’s as if the colleges are driving to find the brightest kids at the expense of all the other kids. This shouldn’t be that big of a deal, after all the colleges are businesses and they can’t waste their time with kids who are either to stupid to learn or they are to undisciplined and lazy to even try to get by.

    The thing I don’t like though is that the harder it gets the more and more kids are going to just say “screw it” and are going to drop out of school and go to work at the local McDonald’s. Soon we will just be another idiotic, slackjawed, nation where we can’t wait to hear what Britney did today (this reminds me of something but I can’t remember what; hey what did Britney do today?!). ** Mr. Long: (wink) **

    If colleges and parents (yes it’s your fault to) don’t start to loosen up then we are going to go insane from stress.

  21. Honestly I don’t disagree or agree with the opinion of the author regarding the high school lifestyle.

    I agree that at some schools its definitely is a “dog-eat-dog battleground”. People are judged at how talented they are at sports, what grades, and what cliques your in.

    The way I disagree is, is that our school is definitely not a “battleground.”

    Our school is very competitive with the fact of achieving above and beyond your years at a higher level than average. High school is almost like “a game” in the sense of knowing what your teachers want, passing or failing classes, and athletic competition. Something that can be described as “a game” is something that you can either succeed or fail at. Knowing how to succeed sets high school students apart.

    Another point that the author states that I disagree with is that kids are defined by “statistics”. This is true but to a point, when I walk down the hallway I don’t judge people by the way they look, their wealth, or if they played good or just terrible at the sports game the previous night. Yes some schools base people off what they have or don’t have but in this case I disagree 100% with the “statistics” opinion.

    I must admit that the thought of college is very intimidating. I must agree with what the author states about the competitiveness of college. In high school, you’re just starting to break from the pack in terms of excelling. To get into college so have to be way above and beyond your years to stand out among the other ceiling high stack of applications. Colleges what someone who is unique that stands out and can offer more than the average person and excel to the maximum. Colleges don’t want the average bright and intelligent student that they get thousands of applications from. This way of life through the college’s eye drives students to be better. This in turn pushes the standards up and makes it that much harder to be ahead.

  22. Being completely honest, I would agree with the first quote. Although most wouldn’t I think that many colleges do not only look at grade point averages, SAT scores and ACT scores, but also at the type of person they are. Colleges all want a well rounded person, not just an extremely smart person who does nothing in the community. Although it is very much true that you must have very impressive scores and grades, that is NOT all that colleges look at. I think that a big thing colleges like as well is the number of community service hours a person has done. Also people with the whole package do have a better chance at getting accepted by a college simply because that is much more impressive than a person who is only book smart.

    In my experience, high school IS a “Dog eat dog battle-ground” simply because it is extremely competitive, not only with the other students for the title of valedictorian, but also within oneself. I know that I definitely am an extremely competitive person, not only with all of my athletics, but also with myself academically. I am extremely focused on getting good scores and grades, but also on being extremely active in the community. So grades are important, but the personality of a person also plays a huge factor into whether a college is interested in a person or not.

    It is so important to be a well-rounded person and to have the grades AND the extra curricular committments in order to have a leg up in the competition that is getting into a good college. Personally I know that I try to be involved with absolutely everything in order to have a good resume and be seen as the ‘entire package’ so to speak. I believe that the most important thing is to be yourself and give 110% all day, every day.

  23. I read the article on The Theory of Multiple Intelligences and I completely agree with it. This theory supports my argument. Different people have different strengths and weaknesses and just cause someone seems ‘dumb’ doesn’t mean they really are. That kid that seems ‘stupid’ could be the starting quarterback while getting F’s in every class. No can be intelligent in every single way, however. Thats way those so called all-rounded people are hard to find. And it’s pretty dumb to choose someone who’s fairly good at everything over someone who is amazing at a few things or even just one thing.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Solid response, my friend. Pleased you took at a look at the link(s). While some would argue that Gardner takes it too far (or that schools have taken it too far), it is one of the most respected theories in education today.

    Again, the book is yours to review if you’d like to explore it further. (hint, hint)

  24. High School is amazingly challenging, it is a battleground in many ways. It’s true you can’t just get good grades and score high on the tests anymore. I am constantly worried about if I can competitively compete for a good college. There are kids I know who are some of the best athletes in the nation, play classical instruments like a symphonist, and perform high-level math like they were adding single digits.

    Frankly it scares me. I know I have to work hard, try to consistently attain astronomical GPAs, stand out in sports, ace standardized tests, and on top of that I have to do something to make myself stand out from every other kid in America.

    Sometimes I worry about some of the kids I know, rediculusly hard workers, good grades, but not exeptionally good at anything, they are the ones that most deserve the best schools, those willing to get the very most out of it, those who will literaly work to exhaustion for 4 years.

    On top of academic pressure, there is certainly social pressure, not as much at our school, no doubt because of the extra helping of academic responsibility, but its still there; dictating behavior and taking up time and energy. After a long time struggling, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot with school, I have found inner drive and happiness, I just fear that in this world of ultra competetive high school, its too little, too late.

  25. Forget spending time on what you want to in high school. There’s the looming idea of picking, getting into, and liking a college to start with. It’s nerve wracking that even those who do well stress over not being ‘good enough’. I’ve seen crying and depression over receiving less-than-amazing scores. There are also extra-curriculars, electives, and community service to deal with, and that is just the statistical side of high school. There’s still the social groups, parties, relationships, fun, and various other things that are unimportant to colleges. College doesn’t care if you’ve seen every episode of Scrubs ever, if your GPA is not high enough, or you don’t show any special quality, to the waiting list you go. There is a constant pressure to do better, be better, and exhaust yourself with loads of college prep. As the quote says, we are “defined not by [our] passions” but by what grades and scores we’ve earned on standardized tests. Standardized testing is a special pet peeve of mine, trying to fit everyone into a tiny rubber tube of the perfect student based on facts and vocabulary. True, there really is no way to know every applicant, but some consideration should be given to those who aren’t as intellectually gifted, but have a great work ethic and are strenuously committed to their work. Trying to be a college applicant is not worth the pain. I’m just going to try to be myself and do well, and hopefully a college will recognize that.

  26. Idea 1:

    Like this idea implies, you have to be a pretty good juggler to handle school or life in general. If one ball hits the ground, the ball being something important for school like a deadline for an essay or something that’s important for your social life like a party, then you could be putting yourself in a bad position. You have to be able to schedule and use your time wisely. This quality is important to a high school student, a college student, an employee, or an entrepreneur. If you have multiple tasks that need to be accomplished and you can’t juggle those tasks then you can’t move forward, you’re just standing still.

    Idea 2:

    I don’t know what high school used to be, but now it is defiantly a battleground. Let’s say you want to go to the University of Texas. You just submitted you’re essay so you can get into the college, but thousands of students have submitted essays. You just took the SAT and you did fairly well, but thousands of students have taken the SAT and they did fairly well. The question is: How are you going to stand out? You stand out by devoting all your time to school work, but wait when do you get time to do what you want to do? It can get pretty stressful.

    *These reflections are not aimed to me as a sophomore.

  27. Since we can’t read the book in time to respond to the blog I’m responding a lot to the other comments I’ve read. And those quotes you had up there.

    I feel that high school is competitive, but that’s human nature, that’s the real world. If now we are competing for GPA and girls and boys and popularity, in ten years we’ll be fighting for raises, promotions, internships and many other things. I dont think high school is any more competitive than any other part of life.

    Also, I really don’t set much store in grades, so I don’t stress over them. I have a certain expectation for myself for all of high school that isn’t exceptionally high at all, and if I get a higher grade great, if I get a lower one I simply attribute it to being a very social three sport athelete, and just work a little harder there.

    Also, I consider myself really well rounded in all facets of life and I’m never really stessed out, i think stress for students my age which I see every day in my classmates comes from parental expectations that are ridiculous and unforgiving. A lot of my friends have been instilled with the idea that anything under an A is a failure something to be ashamed of. I think if you set goals like that it’s great, power to you, but to me setting high goals means that if you fall short like we all do then you’re still high up there. If a student and their parents expect A+ grades, then when the student has a rough time, too much work, or anything that could hinder them, they’ll still hit at an A or A-, which should be acceptable to anyone.

    I guess I’m just saying that my high school experience so far has been fun, care free and unstressful, so I don’t agree with the book.

  28. Student #25 (part 2)

    Also, I think that no matter what you do in life, success is in the eye of the individual, there isn’t a checklist to see if you’re successful. Whether you go off to MIT with a 4.o GPA and freshman credits already taken care of, or stay in the town you grew up in as a high school baseball coach that went to a community college for two years, I don’t see one as more successfull than the other, it’s up to you.

  29. Popularity doesn’t even come to mind when I think of high school. In 8th grade, I thought that I would never be accepted because I was the little elementary crybaby(I think I just gave away my identity) who only had grades to fill the pathetic thing she liked to call a life. I’ve learned a lot since then, and it just got too hard to care about popularity anymore. So I focused on my grades and was myself and high school is actually bearable. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get your ‘personality’ to shine through in a college entrance essay.

    I am not an athletic person. All of my close friends have excelled in a sport, whether it is swimming, gymnastics, tennis, ect. My friends are also geniuses, and I am constantly comparing myself to them academically because school is the thing that I’m really good at. I always feel the pressure of having to be the best at something to make up for my lack of coordination and athletic skills and school seemed to work, until my friends completely pone me on a test or project. From my knowledge, you have to be good at EVERYTHING to be accepted into a good college.

    Sure I play piano, but every other teenager on the planet plays an instrument (not really it just sounds more dramatic when I say that).

    My schedule isn’t exactly full either, so why do the people with completely packed schedules do so much better than me? I’m over exaggerating a bit, I’ve been a straight A student for a while but that only encourages the disappointment in myself when I don’t do so well. If I can’t be fantastic in school, what else is going to make me stand out when junior year comes around?

  30. I do not completely agree with the first snippet.

    I agree that you cannot just be the smartest, but more than that. Depending what college you go to will determine what other areas you need to major in. I disagree that you have to be the prettiest and have to constantly be out on the town partying. That sounds like that you have to be the most popular and to that, I disagree. Sure you should have friends and it is probably beneficial that you do, but you do not need to be the most popular. I also think it is okay to party once in a while but not constantly and not just anywhere. You better make sure it is a safe party to go to. I know some people think that you should not have to act a certain way for someone to like you, but no one wants to have a student who seams depressed, not well rounded, not smart, not logical, and/or looks like a punk or a hobo. They would prefer to accept a student that is happy, has good character, has a good personality and dresses nicely because when people come to visit their school to decide if they want to apply to their school, they want to show that their school is an excellent school and has the best students around the world. If their school does not appear this way, then they will receive less students and less money. At the same time, you do not want to try to be someone you are not, just try to be your most happy side. This is the same when applying for jobs. If you are angry all the time, you will probably send all the customers away. If you are dressed in rags, not only will your customers go away but you may also be attracting the “bad customers” that looks like you who probably cannot even afford the products you are trying to sell. When that happens, the place you are working at will get less money which means you will receive less money and eventually you will be fired. How you even got hired in the first place, I do not know, but if your attitude to the world is like I do not care what happens to me then I suppose you will not care if you do not go to college or get the worst job possible.

    I do believe it is a dog-eat-dog world.

    You may be the best at your school but if you are truly smart, then you know that there are a thousand other people out there that are just as good or are better than you. Even if you are not smart enough to figure it out, everyone by this time should have at least been told that. In fact, I cannot even remember how many times I have been told that before. I have also been told that I need to start figuring out which college I want to go to so I will know which classes I need to take in order to be eligible to apply for that college. I also know that the other thousand students work just as hard to get into the same school as me. I also think that if you do not know anyone else that is better than you to compare yourself with, then compete against yourself. If you currently have a GPA of 4.8 then try to go for a 4.9 and so on. I also think it is important to have some family time. Of course, if you are trying to get into a tough school like Harvard, it can be quite difficult to find time to study real hard and have some free time. Back in the old days and possibly in some schools (probably public schools), peer pressure of being popular may make it seem difficult to be the best in your school so you can go to the college that you want to go to. If you are a nerd, then people may pick on you and make you think twice of what you really want to do. The nerd may know it is peer pressure, but if the other students keep picking on you, then it is extremely hard to ignore it. Our school does not seam to have a problem with this. In fact, we seam to have the pressure of getting A+s or higher all the time, not make a mistake, do community service and be able to extracurricular things like sports. At the same time, teachers try to make us not feel that way or at least try to lessen the pressure. Because of this type of pressure, the majority of the students here seams to be independent and do not care if we are keeping up with the trend of how we look and if we are popular or not but rather more concerned with what grade did I get and will I get accepted to my dream college.. Of course, since we have uniforms, it is sort of difficult to show off their up to date clothing anyway.

    The part I disagree on the second quote is that you have to set aside interests and passions in order to strategize over how to game the system.

    I do not agree that one has to aside his/her interest, I think that one should pursue his/her interest if that is what he/she wants to do in his/her life. I also think that one should also participate and try everything else for at least a little while to see if they enjoy it and perhaps want to do that for life. I believe that the purpose of being well-rounded is to know what your passion is and if that does not work out, then you at least have another option of what you want to do. Whereas if you are not well-rounded and you only know how to do one thing and one thing only and for whatever reason you cannot do that one thing only or decide you do not like this job, then you are stuck. You do not know how to do anything else to do something else. Although I believe one should pursue their interest but if it is a job where you get paid a lot, then I think you should have that as a side job during your free time and have another job where you will receive more money. Of course, it is okay to live simple and plus you would be saving the trees, but if you want to have lots of money, then I suggest following my advice.

  31. Obviously being a well rounded person can be an excellent thing to be but you can never be a perfect person. Even though there are the few people out there with amazing qualities and gifted to be an all around excellent person, you can still stand out and make a difference. You don’t have to be the best at everything to have friends, stand out, and be able to accomplish everything perfectly.

    Although GPA does matter in getting accepted to colleges, character should BIG part of being able to get into those colleges including your scores and not scores alone. Also, wanting to learn should be I highly looked at when a student is willing to learn just the same as a student who makes good grades. School is also a battleground, which I can agree with and makes sense. Many people try to fight for popularity and try to impress people which shouldn’t be thought about as a student.

  32. I agree with these quotes. If someone wants to be an overachiever, then they have to be good at everything. And once they’ve achieved that, then they have to look happy, or else people will instead feel that the overachiever is too much of an overachiever. And it’s true that schools have become a ‘who’s better at what’ place. Colleges mostly look at grades and scores, A’s and full scores on the SAT, but they only take a number of students, which has turned students into competing with each other. When someone gets a good grade, they like to show everyone, because a sense of superiority always feels good. The affected students feel that the student only wants to say “haha, I’m better than you” and “colleges will accept me, not you”. The other students will only fight back, and therefore sparking a battle. Personally, I feel that getting good grades is not a requirement for success. As long was I’m smart, clever, and a very good person, then I would be extremely successful. But because colleges believe that getting good grades and scores as being smart, that’s the only thing I can do. I often find myself wondering, ‘Does getting good grades necessarily mean your smart?’ (or are you just hard-working…?)

  33. I think that these two quotes are exactly right about schools and society. In society, people want you to change and be exactly like the social click that you’re in. In school if you aren’t the coolest, smartest, best looking guy there, then you will be an outcast until you change. It’s getting harder to be accepted in both of these things. Personally, I think that schools are putting way to much pressure on kids today. I mean it’s always got an A, or leave the school. What ever happened to just try your best? I mean students want to do so well, that we are willing to sabotage anyone to get where we want. Like when my class had a project do, I brought mine in. Mine was the best there, but someone decided to pour water all over it and ruin it. I got a C when I should have gotten an A+. Oh well, but this just show you what people will do to get higher up in the academic and social food chain.

  34. I can really relate to the second quote, the editors comment because it pretty much explains my transition from public school to private school. Often times in public school the kids also will compete but it may be for different things and the results are different. But when I came to this school it was a whole new experience for me. I was no longer the smartest in my class and I had to compete for that distinction. I was always good at sports and once I came here that’s when I shined and I earned my distinction. Also in orchestra playing the cello also helped me get that distinction and helped me stand out from the rest. It’s a constant struggle to prove that you can be compared to that national merit scholar or that you are meant to do good things in life. But I also agree with the first comment saying that: “you have to be able to have the most fun, you have to be the prettiest, the best-dressed, the nicest, and the most wanted”.

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