The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids (Paperback)
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"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." -- CJ, age seventeen 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 aren't defined by their character or hunger for knowledge, but by often arbitrary scores and statistics. In The Overachievers, journalist Alexandra Robbins delivers a poignant, funny, riveting narrative that explores how our high-stakes educational culture has spiraled out of control. During the year of her ten-year reunion, Robbins returns to her high school, where she follows students, including CJ and others:
- Julie, a track and academic star who is terrified she's making the wrong choices;
- "AP" Frank, who grapples with horrifying parental pressure to succeed;
- Taylor, a soccer and lacrosse captain whose ambition threatens her popular girl status;
- Sam, who worries his years of overachieving will be wasted if he doesn't attend a name-brand college;
- Audrey, who struggles with perfectionism; and
- The Stealth Overachiever, a mystery junior who flies under the radar.
About the Author
Alexandra Robbins is a former staff member of The New Yorker and the author of two New York Times bestsellers. Her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, USA Today, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Chicago Tribune, Self, Washington Monthly, Time Digital, Salon, Details, Shape, PC, Tennis Week, and the Journal of Popular Culture. She graduated summa cum laude in 1998 from Yale.