Sarah's Reviews > The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins
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's review
Aug 18, 2007

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bookshelves: nonfiction, booksread2007
Read in October, 2007

Unlike 'Restless Virgins' (which moderately shocked me and showed me how things have changed since I was in high school), 'The Overachievers' didn't tell me anything new. Even in high school in the early 90s we were college obsessed, over booked and stressed out. This book was almost an exact description of my high school experience what with the SAT prep, the honors and AP classes, the lack of sleep and the pressure. I was actually surprised that these kids remained so focused -- only a few passages discussed drinking (not even anything about drug use). The students Robbins' profiled are good kids and they deserved to be accepted to prestigious schools. I wish she would have covered a more diverse crowd and focused a bit more on underprivledged students who needed financial aid or scholarships. My favorite part of the book was her research on early childhood education and the competition (especially in Manhattan) to get into elite preschools. As an early childhood education teacher in Manhattan I spend a good portion of the Fall writing recommendations for my 2 year old students. Crazy, yes. But so true. I agree with Robbins' thesis -- children are forced (by their parents and caregivers) to compete with each other from the second they are born. But I'm not sure if that is true on all ends of the social spectrum. I also teach students in the lower middle class Bronx and the work mentality is much different than in Manhattan. Robbins' briefly mentioned one of the students working on a Native American reservation but her book focuses on one group -- upper middle class kids with college educated parents in Maryland.

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