Overachievers more normal than you think

While Leesville’s senior class prepares for summer and their departure to life beyond 8409 Leesville Road, juniors are just beginning the journey. While some juniors will spend the summer goofing off, others have different priorities.

“This summer, I am going to make some college visits to places I might be interested in and then begin the application process as soon as I possibly can,” said Alli Mossinghoff, junior.

Mossinghoff is part of a diligent group of students who takes preparation for college to a whole new level. Many of us call them over-achievers, occasional grade-pushers, and possibly a little imbalanced. Whatever you choose to call them, there is no doubt that these particular students strive for greatness.

For Bob Nelson, junior, his preparation for college began his freshman year, as he took almost all honors classes, making straight A’s. This year, Nelson even took Advanced Placement Music Theory, a course online, to get ahead.

“I really want to get into Cornell,” said Nelson. When questioned about his decision, his main reason for wanting to attend the prestigious university was that it was “the best.”

“Mostly, I just want to get out of North Carolina,” he said. “But an Ivy League wouldn’t hurt either.”

“I love to learn, so I would like to attend a liberal arts school, most preferably an Ivy League,” said Lauren Paige Aiken, junior. “I also know I want to go to graduate school. I do not know what I want to study yet, but I know five more years of learning in the classroom won’t be enough for me.”

Some people may say that more than seventeen years of schooling seems a little outrageous, some may even call it insane, but Aiken thinks insanity is a good thing.

“I am not suggesting that it’s good to fly off the handle but staying sane is vastly overrated. What do they say again? Something like ‘why live on the edge when you can jump off it?’”

Perhaps what allows over-achievers to stay ahead is the way that they approach their study habits—sometimes going beyond the general expectations of a good student.

“I’d rather get up early to study than stay up late, so I think one time I went to bed at twelve and woke up at 4:30, (a.m.),” said Mossinghoff.

Aiken even creates songs to help her remember important test material. “For example, my chemistry compounds formulas are set to Hannah Montana’s ‘Nobody’s Perfect’”

Over-achievers admit that going above and beyond can be a little too much. Mossinghoff, who aspires to be a country singer, writes a song when she gets overwhelmed, and Aiken takes out all of her stress in the mall.

To add to the obligations that come with doing well in school, admission rates into prestigious colleges and universities are getting more selective every year. Just last year, Harvard University only accepted 2,110 applicants from a pool of over 30,000 applicants.

To the average student, applying to a school that is so selective is just a recipe for disappointment, but over-achievers see it as a challenge.

Just the idea of having limitless opportunities in life inspires me to take on the challenges of academics,” said Mossinghoff. “I really hope I get to experience those [opportunities] someday.”

“I just have this need to propel forward and I always yearn for progress—to strengthen myself,” said Aiken.

“The pressure that comes with competition allows me to do that.”

Performance Psychologist, John Eliot thinks agrees with Aiken. “Overachievers get excited about learning, so they can turn weaknesses into strengths,” said Eliot in an article for Psychology Today.

“They thrive under pressure—welcome pressure, enjoy it and make it work to their advantage,” he said.

In order to achieve greatness, overachievers sometimes have to make sacrifices along the way. Mossinghoff avoids as many obstacles as possible by putting school first. In fact, she does not even have a Facebook account.

“It limits the distractions,” she said.

This is not to say that overachievers never have fun and are serious all the time or that they measure success by grades alone.

“My key to success is doing what I love. Success for me changes everyday. One day success could mean passing one of Mrs. Dotson’s honors anatomy tests. Another day, success could mean sprinting from my car to Dr. Dubay’s room and sliding my feet through the door right as the late bell rings,” said Aiken.

“To be successful, I’ve learned that you can’t just live by the same rules with every situation because things change. You have to be a human-being.”

The important thing overachievers would like to communicate with their peers is that they are not grade-pumping robots. “I’m not consumed with school, and it doesn’t control my life,” said Mossinghoff.

It is easy for the average student to assume that overachievers are only looking out for themselves, but Aiken strongly disagrees.

“Doing something that betters the world around me whether it be for the country, the people, the animals or the environment, I know I’ll be making a difference because that is my passion and no matter what school I graduate from, my passion–not my grades, is what guides me now and what will guide me then,” she said.

“In ten years, I see myself not only having learned how to make a living, but also having learned how to live.”

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