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The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids
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The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,917 ratings  ·  301 reviews
The bestselling author of Pledged returns with a groundbreaking look at the pressure to achieve faced by America's teens

In Pledged, Alexandra Robbins followed four college girls to produce a riveting narrative that read like fiction. Now, in The Overachievers, Robbins uses the same captivating style to explore how our high-stakes educational culture has spiraled out of con
ebook, 448 pages
Published August 8th 2006 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2006)
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May 19, 2010 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: High school students
Recommended to Sharon by: Ms. Campanella
Alexandra Robbins' The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids is a poignant, non-fiction work that touches upon the modern competitive education system, which has seemingly gone out of control. Rather than earning grades for learning, students are obtaining artificial grades through cheating, and even resorting to non-prescribed medications to facilitate their study habits in order to get into their dream college. During Alexandra's 10-year high school reunion, she gathers a group of her ...more
I had to read The Overachievers for my AP English class; we were given a list of seventeen books and were told to choose which book we wanted to read the most. I chose and was assigned this book because, being what my friends call an overachiever, I wanted to read about myself.

The book wasn't quite like that though: Alexandra Robbins, the author, followed several high school to college age students who are considered overachievers by their peers. Reading about these people made me ever grateful
James Parker
The Overachievers is overall a great book, being very informative and providing much insight into what really goes on in the educational system. Every page keeps you wanting more, and the shockingly true facts that this book is replete with only add to this feeling. Alexandra Robbins is a fantastic investigative journalist, and she has done a fantastic job documenting the struggles and challenges in the lives of multiple students. Not only are the stories of the students interesting and engaging ...more
Alexandra Robbins
Oct 18, 2010 Alexandra Robbins rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
My favorite of my books!
Sep 24, 2008 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read at the fourth grade level
Recommended to Judy by: Ms. Campanella
The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids, a nonfiction work by Alexandra Robbins, is a book I chose to read because it was a requirement for our English Honors class. Students usually groan at the thought of reading a book because it is a school requirement, but I found The Overachievers to be quite an interesting read. In it, Robbins traces the thoughts and lives of several overachieving students, namely juniors and seniors, from Whitman High School located in Bethesda, Maryland, who ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Crystal rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone involved in the high school life
Recommended to Crystal by: Ms. Campanella
In The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by the celebrated author Alexandra Robbins, a significant issue of our current society is addressed: the dilemma of how academic and societal pressures are negatively affecting students today. This non-fictional novel retraces the high school lives of real students whose only names have been changed. The frenzied lives of six high school students, which may seem even unbelievable at times, are portrayed. Unfortunately, the different, yet simi ...more
When I read this after college, I felt like I was being transported back to high school. Not only did I know the kinds of kids she was describing - I WAS one of those kids. As a somewhat adult, it's hard to imagine how I could ever pull off everything I did in high school now. I can barely make it through the workday sometimes, how did I go to school, do homework, work at my job and play competitive sports and not simply die of exhaustion? The thought makes me crazy.

This was a great read for som
The Overachievers, by Alexandra Robbins, follows the lives of various students in their final years of high school (and one entering his freshman year in university). It details the various pressures and troubles brought about by the effort to succeed and be the best in one of the most competitive high schools in America. I enjoyed this book, not only because it sends a much needed message that the pressure to get into a good university is too high and placing too much stress on students across ...more
May 30, 2008 Claudia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all adults -- teens might like it too
Recommended to Claudia by: I chose this for Book Club
I chose this book for our book club, and I'm eager to see what elementary teachers and parents think of this book. I was impressed! Robbins follows several students from one high-achieving school and connects their concerns and struggles with education issues: NCLB, SAT and ACT testing, the whole test-prep industry; recess and the competition for preschool admission; and how schools' schedules are a mismatch to teenagers' sleep patterns. Her commentary is top-notch! I read fiction for character, ...more
Robbins' non-fiction reads like a novel. Her characters, real life high school students, tell the story, which Robbins validates with her research, sprinkled between the anecdotes. As the parent of a high school junior who attends a school much like Whitman, I was deeply interested in the subject matter, and as a former school counselor and adjunct professor, I appreciated the thoroughness of Robbins' research. This book should be required reading for high school parents, particularly if their c ...more
Matthew Tsvetkov
The Overachievers: Secret Lives of Driven Kids, gets a 2.5 out of 5 stars from me (although for the sake of the Goodreads website I gave the book a 2). The book had a strong, interesting opening. However, when I reached the halfway point I was really only interested in reading about the characters for a reason I couldn't understand. About 250 pages into the book I discovered that my big problem with the book was that I felt like I was being fed the same information in every section that was not ...more
Oct 30, 2007 Lani rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: overachievers of the past and present, teachers, parents
Living in the DC metro area, working in Bethesda (where the school mentioned is located), and having attended an even more intense magnet school in the area less than 5 years before the book was written... This book spoke to me. I can't even PRETEND to guess if this is a universal experience, but I could personally relate to many aspects of the students profiled. What I didn't see in myself, I saw in my classmates.

I hope teachers and parents read this book and understand the pressures that kids
This book about "over-achiever" college kids was assigned in my 11th grader's English class. It's an interesting book, that follows a set of students from one particular school. The author tries to highlight the stress of the various activities these kids do, not necessarily because they're interested but because it will count on their college application.

The author does tend to exaggerate a bit. I suppose this is the opposite of the "Tiger mom" book (which I have not read).

It is an interestin
Alexandra Robbins profiles eight students at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Md., in-depth over three semesters in 2004 and 2005.Robbins identifies her main characters — four juniors, three seniors and one alum who’s a college freshman — by how they’re perceived at Whitman. There's Julie perceived as "The Superstar," Audrey "The Perfectionist," AP Frank "The Workhorse," Taylor "The Popular Girl," Sam "The Teacher's Pet," Pete "The Meathead," the Stealth Overachiever perceived as "?" and C ...more
Kim Shaw
This book informative and intriguing. I read it for my summer reading junior year and was in love with it. I did not want to put it down even the parts that are satistics. My favorite part of reading the book though was the connection I felt with the other students. It put some of the events I do in perspective because I knew that my life would be okay. I enjoyed learning about the pressure kids my age go through. The research was great and organized well. I think this book is a must read.
In this book Robbins follows the lives of several kids during their experiences in high school. As she is telling the story of these kids' lives, she sometimes adds her own research into the book. Most of her commentary is about current issues in the US dealing with education, and focuses on the pressure put on kids today to be successful. As she says herself: "“We live in an achievement-oriented, workaholic culture that can no longer distinguish between striving for excellence and demanding per ...more
I just love Alexandra Robbins' style. She forms friendships with the subjects of her books, and becomes part of their social circles, resulting in super accurate descriptions of any phenomenon she investigates. This book is another example of her abilities. A good look at high schoolers who are so busy getting into the "right" college that they forget to ask themselves who they really are.
Aug 23, 2007 Akiko rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: future parents
This book took me back to my high school years, when my college counselor told me that my first choice college should be my safety, and that "I could do so, so much better" in my college choices. Thankfully, I ignored him and proceeded along to Oxy, one of the best choices I've made in my entire life so far! Really nostalgic book, and makes me glad I'm not in high school anymore.
This books reports on the nuttiness of high school life for students striving to get into the best colleges. Unbelievable. The book also talks about how this pressure starts at the pre-school level, and I can already sense the overachiever pressure, and my kids are not quite 5 and 3! I can't put the book down; I'm so curious to see what happens to these kids.
Yadin Kulp
Overachievers is a book about a series of teenage kids at Whitman high that author Alexandra Robbins interviews and follows them through their challenges and pressure and through their daily lives, and their constant question which they are asked daily questions about their future.

She follows students like AP Frank who has huge parental pressure from his mom who makes him study all the time with barely any breaks. Or for example the everything perfect Julie who is frightened to death about the d
This is the second book I've read by Robbins, and I'm a total sucker for her books about high school. However, now that I've finished this one, I highly recommend Geeks over this. It didn't dig quite as deep into the research as I had hoped, and the narratives dragged. I started skimming and skipping to the researched sections.
This book touches on so many important aspects of the education system: testing, college, GPAs, extracurriculars, priorities, pressure,etc. I thought it was an extremely thought-provoking book! I read the book in hopes of gaining insight into how to work with students who are overachievers and/or advanced. Educators spend a lot of time learning how to reach out to students who are struggling or need extra help, yet never look closely enough at how much help overachievers also need. I don't think ...more
I didn't realize a high school could be this cut-throat until I read The Overachievers. I hope to achieve similar success to that of the overachievers, but at the same time I don't want to experience the same level of extreme stress and anxiety. Is that even possible?
the research in this book is what i found most compelling, but i was also dying to know whether julie went to the prom with sam and moved by some of the individual kids' stories, too. definitely an interesting read for educators, parents, and just overachievers in general.
A must-read for any parent or teacher of teenagers, especially those parents who either knowingly or unwittingly pressure their child to be hyper-successful.
Jul 26, 2007 Tamara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: especially parents of highschool students and educators, but really anyone
A great book. I really found it fascinating. Robbins did a great job explaining the lives of these high school students. I enjoyed reading it.
Jan 06, 2008 Felicity/Rosestar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All who wonder about overacheivers
Recommended to Felicity/Rosestar by: My mom
This book is soooo surprising! The things that kids will do to get above a 4.0!
Interesting stuff. I was one of these tragic kids--and know a great many to this day.
For anyone involved in higher education, this is a must read.
Maggie B
I really enjoyed this book and found it really interesting and easy to relate to. I am under the pressures of trying to apply for college and I am on the verge of a mental breakdown, but after reading this book I have realized that I am not alone. Every student feels these pressures, but we will over come them if we just follow our dreams and find things that make us happy. I recommend this book to any students who are starting to think or prepare for the college process. Hopefully it will work ...more
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NEW BOOK from the author of Goodreads BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR

In the style of Pledged and The Overachievers: THE NURSES: A YEAR OF SECRETS, DRAMA, AND MIRACLES WITH THE HEROES OF THE HOSPITAL. For a signed copy in time for Mother's Day/ National Nurses Week, visit this page. Use code HEROES for 20% off.

New York Times bestselling author Alexandra R
More about Alexandra Robbins...
Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis: Advice from Twentysomethings Who Have Been There and Survived

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“Someone else's success is not your failure.” 0 likes
“We live in the Age of Comparison. Too often, we deem our own achievements worthless if they fall short of others' standards. Our best isn't good enough if it's not as good as someone else's best.” 0 likes
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