The Overachievers

The Overachievers is a wonderful book that I have finally read after seeing the author of the book on an episode of The Colbert Report (unknown which episode though it was a while back, sometime in the summer of 06 if I recall correctly). The main theme of the book is overachievers in America specifically those in high school as they are trying to get into the college of their choice, or rather their parent’s choice or the best school in the US. This is the problem that the book focuses on, not so much that students shouldn’t strive to excel, no person in their right mind would say such a thing, however the children depicted in this book are children so stressed out and with no social life for the majority of these children. I would recommend reading this book for anyone who has ever been stressed out with classes or know of someone who routinely stressed out over classes.


This book touched a personal note in myself for several reasons. The first is that while I myself have never been one to really worry about classes, certainly in high school I did anything but worry about classes. However in college I find myself worrying about classes more and letting go of my social life in order to work more in classes even though it necessarily won’t make a real difference. This book has taught me something that I came to realize this past semester at school, I don’t care. I do care about school, I do care about my grades, I do care about achieving and certainly doing the best that I can, however I do not care so much to jeopardize my health, friendships, sanity, or my general social life just to try and do some what better in a class. I desire to make excellent grades, I desire to shine in my classes, but if I don’t or can’t, I won’t stress out over this, especially if stress won’t allow me to achieve higher grades or write better essays.


This book hits another personal note, my ex-girlfriend could have very easily have been one of the people depicted in this book. My ex would routinely come and ask me for help on projects, stressed out worried about failing the project or not having enough time to complete this assignment and this assignment. Which is fine that she would ask me for help, I enjoyed helping and would routinely put off some project of my own to help her on a project, however the kicker is when asking her how the project turned out – the project that she was so stressed over wouldn’t be due for several weeks. The first night that she had the assignment she would be stressed out over the project. There are many more stories that would revival a woman who driven, yes, intelligent, very much so, but completely stressed out over assignments that she had no reason to stress over, most assuredly yes. I see this in myself from time to time, I see this in my ex, I see this in more and more and my friends every day. I also see those people who burn out under the stress or given in completely and rather than achieving , which they very easily could, fail day in and day out because they don’t care any longer or can’t care.


I plan on writing in a later post, what I feel America’s educations systems should emphasize, ways to fix our reliance on tests and hopefully ways that will reduce the stress in America’s overachievers, so that America can have a quality education system that teaches at all levels of our students, not just the geniuses or the overachievers, but the average students, the students who need the most help and everything in between.


Education should teach our children – not teach a test, Education should provoke creation – not provoke dread.

Justin Yost is a full-time Software Engineer and a part time educator. A graduate of Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Justin relishes programming and learning more about anything and everything. When not working, Justin occasionally gives talks at the local PHP Meetup. In his free time, Justin enjoys backpacking and reading science fiction books.

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