The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

From The Atlantic:

Book_15 The frenzy of academic competition, particularly among affluent American families, has triggered a spate of cautionary new books. The titles reviewed here are all excellent: I give them all A+’s — or, in the parlance of today’s elite high schoolers, weighted GPAs of 4.687, including 5’s in fifteen AP courses and a combined math/verbal SAT score of 1540.

Of course, I’m a biased reader; in my estimation, there can’t be enough books written on the topic. I say, let’s hurl them, one by one, at today’s frenzied “helicopter parents,” who deserve to be, if not bombarded, at least given a simple clonk over the head with a frying pan while a trained therapist yells, “Stop the insanity!”

Winning admission to a coveted college is so do-or-die that today’s über-protective parents leave nothing to chance — which is to say, nothing to the bumbling students themselves. For our most obsessively college-minded parents, it seems foolhardy to allow high-school seniors to track the progress of their own applications, to solicit their own letters of recommendation, even to write their own autobiographical essays about why they want to go to college. At a certain point, one might ask who is actually hoping to pull on that crimson sweatshirt.

In a telling USA Today essay on such parents, the MIT admissions head, Marilee Jones, wrote that they even “make excuses for their child’s bad grades and threaten to sue high school personnel who reveal any information perceived to be potentially harmful to their child’s chances of admission.” (Indeed, in The Overachievers, Alexandra Robbins points out that the number of teachers purchasing liability insurance rose by 25 percent between 2000 and 2005.)

And when these litigious parents’ work is well done, they need only stand back as their mini-me’s shamble forward, robotlike, hurling lawsuits for them.

More here.