Overachievers cite reasons for their dogged determination


Photograph by Alanna Christman

SHS junior Ivana Karataseva studies for an exam during school.

Alanna Christman, Staff Writer

More homework is more homework, and more responsibility is more ugh. Overachievers achieve more on purpose. What motivates these students?  Where do they get their drive?

Sergio Butron, senior class president, provided his definition of an overachiever: “An overachiever is someone who does more than what is expected. A person who is an overachiever tends to exert themselves beyond the maximum – even if it’s not necessary.” Butron does not view himself as an overachiever; rather, he prefers to say that he is“overly-involved.”

“The essence of helping others and improving my skills. I think the one thing I look forward to most is prom, and saying, ‘Wow, I can’t believe with the help of the officer team, we did this.’,” said Butron.

Senior Kaitlyn Mathura, who volunteers at both Saint Luke’s Hospital and Saint Luke’s Church, shared the main reason for her determination: “To make my parents proud.”

Sophomore Kevin Dotel also contributes his manner of workings to his parents, “My parents came from another country to here, so I figure that I should work hard and do well to make them proud.” He mentioned experiencing stress through overachieving, but that the satisfaction he feels upon completing jobs or tasks makes the challenge worthwhile. “Not only do I enjoy learning, but I vision myself being successful,” Dotel added.

According to psychologytoday.com, the most common reasons for overachieving are wanting everything to be perfect, a sense of superiority, and fear or judgment.

There are many reasons why students could feel the need for the perfection of their classwork and grades. Students are raised with the belief that the best of the best are only those who score 100 percent.

“To be the best. To be the best of the school, or to be the best you can be,” said sophomore Michelle Phoenix, when asked what her motivation is. “To get into college is extremely competitive, and for most high schoolers, college is part of their life plan. How we do in high school affects the college we go to or the scholarships received.” 

Senior Juliet Whidden uses the idea of perfection as her motivation.  She is one of the top students in the school, and she makes time to participate in Key Club, cross country, Science Olympiad, and NHS.

“For me it’s not as much about grades as I’m sort of a perfectionist,” said Whidden. “I need to know that I learned. I think I just care a lot about school.” On average, Whidden completes three hours of homework per day and two hours of time on clubs and activities. She insists that this time is positive time well spent.

There are some students who overachieve because they simply believe it helps them. Others may not be so eager to agree. For some, overachieving may be spurred by fear or judgement. This can come from grades, teachers, parents, etc. While some students view it as a way to motivate themselves, others may view it as a problem.

Sophomore Emily Brier is involved with peer tutoring, art club and orchestra. “I want to have good grades, so anything below an A just makes me upset,” she said.

While there are two sides to the overachieving debate, studies typically support the deeply motivated. According to a variety of studies reviewed by University of Rochester psychology professor Edward Deci and colleagues, students who have more drive and motivation towards school have both a deeper love of learning and a lower dropout rate.

Overachievers list many reasons for their drive: perfection, fear, good grades, parents, wanting to be the best, and just liking school are some of the most common.

It should not come as a shock that not everybody is an overachiever. In fact, studies show that most students struggle to complete the base work assigned to them.

According to a 2003 National Research Council report on motivation, 40 percent of students in high school are actually disengaged from school and the whole learning process.

“I think it’s something where you either have it or you don’t,” said Mathura. “Sit back, put things in perspective, take a deep breathe, and take things one task at a time.”