Everybody understands that life happens, or so I believe they do. There are times when life becomes extremely overwhelming and you find yourself needing the help of others. Ryland is at the point where he needs the help and understanding of others. Why does the physics teacher not help Ryland by tutoring him or allowing extra time for tests? Getting As and Bs does not mean that someone is not struggling. Ryland finds himself having anxiety attacks frequently, mainly during physics and math tests. Anxiety attacks are very hard to come over, especially when you are unsure of how to cope with one. This being said, I feel like Alexandra Robbins shows how hard it can be to suffer from something such as anxiety. Ryland feels there is one way out to his problem, which is not studying for tests. Overall, that is hurting him in more ways than one and when he steps up and tries to receive help, he is denied it. Being denied help when you really need it can only make the problem worse.
For school to be ranked as the largest cause for stress, I think that says a lot. Students, especially teenagers, seem to focus a lot on body image, money, relationships, etc. because we are planning for our future and trying to find out who we truly are. This shows how much school is taking over our world. Personally, I believe school gives us amazing opportunities to learn, grow, socialize and become adults, but I find school very stressful. This stress keeps growing, so once again, Alexandra Robbins is showing how too much pressure and overachiever culture can be a bad thing. Through stories, opinions, facts, news articles, magazines and surveys, Alexandra Robbins shows the life of an overachiever, the culture of overachievers and how overachievers are changing our world. I think it is helpful that she is contributing facts to go along with the stories of the students, it helps give another perspective to understand.
Taylor is very similar to Audrey, Sam, AP Frank and Julie. They are all very committed to academics, extracurriculars and being successful. They show determination in their work and even if times become stressful, overwhelming and busy, they will not let up. They believe in following activities through until the end. I feel that I can relate to the students that attend Whitman High School. I find school to be stressful most of the time, however, I am very committed to academics and extracurricular activities and I aim not to quit until the end. Additionally, for most of the book, at least until page 72, Alexandra Robbins states how overachiever culture can be bad. I believe this quote, however, has a positive outlook on overachiever culture. This quote shows determination and possibly hard work, which are all good aspects to have in a person, in my opinion.
Recently, my parents and I have talked about college. Where I am considering, what I am considering majoring in and how we can make it work within my family. I was always raised on the concept to do what is best for me. We believe in helping others, but when it comes to something like college, I should do what is best for me and my future. In other words, college is about bettering yourself. Learning who you are, what you believe and what you will become. However, in this quote, I do not receive the same concept. This all refers to rankings, comparing yourself to others, helping the college, money and selectivity. When did college become about rankings and competition and not about bettering yourself?
High school is supposed to prepare students for the real world. However, according to this quote, we are taught to a test. How are we supposed to be prepared for the real world, if we are taught to a test? I partly agree with the elite private schools who have dropped AP courses. AP courses provide students with a lot of stress and if AP courses are offered, overachieving students may feel the need to take the class to show they can take a higher level course. We want students to achieve great things and be well rounded with academics and extracurriculars, but sometimes the AP courses provide such a work load that limits a student’s ability to participate in other extracurricular activities. Additionally, only being taught to a test does not prepare us for the real world, so why take a higher level course when in the end you receive the same knowledge as an honors or standards level course.
I feel similar to Julie when I finish midterms, final exams and large tests or assignments. You study for sometimes months on end for large tests and when the test is finally over, you feel as though your world has been turned upside down. You no longer have the stress of wondering how you will do on the test or how the test may affect your grade. You no longer have to wonder if you’ve prepared enough for the test or how hard the test will be. The feeling truly is as if a brick was taken off of your shoulders. Julie shows feelings of relief similar to other students in the book. AP Frank was relieved when he graduated, he felt free and Ryland felt free after large tests. The anxiety attacks ended shortly after the test ended which is a relieving feeling, even though he knew he would do poorly on the test because he didn’t study.
Alexandra Robbins shows us that school should be about learning, not specifically about good grades and tests. In this quote, it shows that students are cheating to get good grades and win sports, which beats the point of going to school. We are not meant to go to school to find a way to outsmart the system, but rather learn and prepare us for the world. The world has placed significant pressure on students to achieve good grades and be the perfectly, well-rounded student, that students have resorted to cheating. Alexandra Robbins opens our eyes to the fact that good grades will not make our future stronger, but that learning will make our future stronger.
We are told in life that when we make a mistake, our mistake does not define who we are. That our future is not defined by the goal missed during the soccer game, it’s not about the squeaky note I played on the clarinet and it’s not about the poor test score in school. Those do not define who we are as humans. It does not define how compassionate we are; how kind we are or how smart we are. However, tests like the SAT and ACT are looked on upon as if they define our future. Why is the SAT and ACT deemed so important and why do colleges look upon the SAT and ACT like our future relies on it?
What is deemed as a good college? Just because a college isn’t in the Ivy League, why is not good? I believe a college being good is mostly an opinion. Yes, you can have a larger school, with large amounts of land and above and beyond professors, that has a large cost of tuition, but you can also have a small school, with above and beyond professors, located outside of a town, with a tuition cost that is half the price. I believe they both can be just as good as the other. I believe a good college is defined by one’s personal preferences and personality. Personally, I would not enjoy a college such as Harvard. While I’m sure I would love the campus and professors, I don’t want to go incredibly far from home, nor do I want the added pressure of being in an Ivy League University. I would much rather attend a small school, closer to home, with a small student population that gives me the rigor I am looking for, without adding the pressure of being an Ivy League University.
For the longest of time, top preschools and highly ranked kindergartens where not focused to highly upon. We live in a very successful world, I believe, and most of us have not been to a private or “proper” preschool. So, why the change in perspective? Why does a child need to be stressed out in kindergarten or preschool because their parents are already looking into college? Why is it believed that a child can only get into an Ivy League University as long as they attend a “proper” or private preschool?
Throughout life, you begin to realize that asking for help does not make you weak. I believe you have to be in a position in life were getting help made you stronger in the end, showing that asking help is not a bad thing to do. That being said, it takes a lot of courage to ask someone for help, to realize you cannot solve a problem by yourself. So, when AP Frank goes to Mr. Murphy for help, I feel like AP Frank reached the point where he realized he needed someone else’s help. When Mr. Murphy responded with “Can you be brave for six more months?” I felt horrible for AP Frank. He gathered the courage to ask for help and was denied it. If someone comes to you for help, why tell them to be brave for six more months?
Our world has reached a point where they believe everybody’s business is open to the public. Audrey’s classmates are not uncommon in most schools. I commend Audrey for keeping her grades to herself. Not only did she hold out from peer pressure, but she also tried her best from getting caught up in grade competition. Often times, when students want to compare grades and they are not close friends, it is because they want to compare themselves to others. They down grade their own achievements when somebody receives a higher score and they tend to get caught in a vicious never ending cycle of trying to be better than someone else.
Audrey is somewhat unlike the other characters in the story when it comes to this quote. Julie feels the need to achieve good grades and get into an Ivy League College. Sam feels the need to change who he is to impress colleges. Audrey, although tries to achieve good grades, does not want to get caught up in the competition over grades with other students. She was not willing to share her grades with others, which seems as though she is trying to remove herself from the fight to be the best.
Wow, what a plot twist. I realize that this book represents the lives of real people, but no one could have seen this coming. AP Frank and many others must be heart-broken by the sudden loss of someone they knew. Alexandra Robbins intentionally or unintentionally shows how quickly life can change. I have learned that this book is not just about overachievers, but about life. The good times and bad, the stressful and relaxing times and the never saw it coming times. She truly shows what life is like in a wide perspective.
When I read this in the book, I immediately thought of my plot twist in life, similar to that of AP Frank’s. My brother and I had a Coach in Middle School, Coach Burks, who was funny, hard-working and compassionate. He pushed us to work hard and he was always there when you were having a hard day. We referred to him as the “go to man” in the event that something went wrong at school. He had a truly great personality, one to look up to, and he acted like a father to those who didn’t have one. When I was a Freshman at Massey, I came out of the car one morning only to find out that he had been thrown off of his motorcycle after being hit by a car the previous night.
He was coming from my Middle School’s football game, were he was a coach. They had just won for the first time in a while. The impact of being thrown from the motorcycle was so great that the helmet he was wearing provided no protection. He died on scene. The paramedics on scene said he didn’t suffer. His death was definitely a plot twist in many of our worlds. It was heart breaking to know that such a kind, caring man, was killed so quickly with one hit. With all of this being said, I feel as though I can relate to AP Frank. We were both no longer at the school were the teacher/counselor worked, they both died rather quickly, without notice and we shared the same teacher/counselor-to-student relationship.
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