Every fall millions of American adolescents gear up to apply for the thousands of colleges and universities across the nation. For many students this process is a simple-natural progression through a linear educational track in which no extra preparation, beyond a paper application, is required. However, for many students college preparation can begin as early as conception. Alexandria Robbins follows the stories of nine students from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Whitman is known for and could be summarized by a simple term in which Robbins’ book is also titled: Overachievers. The author explores the hectic nature of helicopter parenting, bureaucratic admission processes, the culture of Ivy (a term describing the upper echelon of academic institutions), unrelenting and unrealistic expectations, and the cyclonic degradation of innocent and carefree adolescent development.
In The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, Robbins explores the correlation between perfectionism and academic prowess. Over the course of one year she follows the lives of AP Frank, Julie, C.J., Sam, Stealth, Audrey and others as they transition through high school and into college. These students, as Robbins showcases, epitomize what is wrong with America’s Educational System. Robbins explores the impact of the intricacies produced by America’s scholastic whirlwind on students as expressed by her research participants. Robbins masterfully crafts an informative and emotional roadmap that intertwines topics such as No Child Left Behind, College Board’s SAT, College Rankings, Ultra Competitive Parents, Cheating and Emotional and Medical Distress from a student’s perspective. The author presents each issue by presenting occurrences from the group of Whitman students and follows with a pragmatic dissection of the issue with review of literature, interviews, and focus groups. Robbins concludes her bestseller with a seemingly rushed outline of best practices and recommendations for teachers, parents, students, educators and legislators.
The Science of Psychology
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Psychological Disorders IV revision describes a variety of conditions that the student participants may have or were diagnosed with. The students of Overachievers had a variety of psychological disturbances including, but not limited to, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Clinical Depression, Stress, Suicidal Ideation, and/or Chemical Abuse. This is not atypical of the average student not only in America but globally. A 1993 study by Lewishon, Hops, Roberts, Seely and Andrews examined the prevalence of Depression and other DSM-III-R disorders longitudinally in over 3,000 high school students. This study found that 9.6% met criteria for a current disorder, more than 33% have been previously diagnosed and 31.7% of which experienced a second diagnosis later on. In addition, the research by Lewishon et al. (1993), describes female students as...