Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Norm of Over-Achievers

Post from a Senior
c/o 2010
It often seems like at school that you are only doing well if you are getting over a 4.0 and have 7 IB classes... which is great but way over-achieving. In my summer internship I started to talk to the adults in the lab and when they asked me about my classes they would ask "how many AP's did you take?" and I would say "only APUSH" and they looked moderately impressed. And then I would add "Because my school doesn't do AP; We do IB. It’s like AP but international. I took IB Bio, IB Chem, IB English, IB math, IB Spanish, and a class called Theory of Knowledge." Their eyes got so wide and they were clearly astounded. At first I didn't get why, I just thought oh everybody does it... then I realized that freaking nobody does that at any other school. It also reminds me of all the times people would be like omg I'm taking 3 AP classes I'm so swamped it’s so hard and I would just be like “yeahhhh.... sounds really challenging. Try 5 IB with a random AP.”

Another thing that amazed me was when I got my AP test scores. I didn't have to study that hard for APUSH... so I just smiled at the 4 I got. And then my smart friends from other schools got 4s on it too but APs were their whole lives.

Message of story... I.S. is hard. What we all start to think of as normal is over-achieving. I'm not saying drop all your classes... I’m saying stick with them because in the end you will be so proud of yourself and realize how much you have accomplished...

Response from Ms. Berman:
It is all about perspective.  Being a part of the I.S. community is a motivating force to perform with excellence in all arenas of your life.  It is important to remember that the norm at IS does not represent the typical high school curriculum and that this is one of the top college preparatory schools in the country.  Maintaining balance and coping with stress management are two of the key elements to achieving a successful and healthy high school experience.  Achieving these goals comes more easily to some than others, and many of you have learned to develop stress reduction and time management strategies throughout your high school career.  Practices you have acquired that appear simple to you, may have yet to occur to others. Your peers can benefit from your knowledge.   Seniors and Graduates, we especially hope to hear from you! 

Questions to respond to:

1.        How do you maintain balance in your life?
2.        How do you manage your stress?


  1. My name is Katie and I'm a former student of Ms. Berman's from LACES. Here are my answers to these questions.

    1. How do you maintain balance in your life?

    This is something I have always struggled with. Since going back to graduate school, I have found it even harder to maintain. I find that I try really hard to do my best, but in doing that, the pendulum swings all the way to one side. To bring back to the middle, I try to do something fun every week. That could be watching a movie or getting together with friends.

    I also give back by volunteering. I give my time to help families of premature babies at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and I donate platelets every 5 to 6 weeks. I like being able to give something back with nothing more than a thank you from someone. It reminds me how lucky I am not only to be alive (I was a preemie) but also how grateful I am to be healthy enough to donate.

    Another tool I have is a gratitude list. Three years ago, I started an email group where we email the five things we are grateful for. I love starting my day off in gratitude. It helps me remember all that I do have. Sometimes when I am stressed, like during finals, I still remember to be grateful for this opportunity, or that have food and shelter, or a roof over my head. Staying positive and grateful has changed my outlook on life for the better.

    2. How do you manage your stress?

    For me this fun comes in the form of Argentine Tango. I take classes once a week and I find it helps me stay in today. If I don’t stay in the moment, I can’t follow the leader I am dancing with. If I think about the paper I have to write or the presentation I have to give, I’m not listening to the music or the movement my partner is leading me into. I usually mess both of us up. It gives me a way to be creative and do something physical. If I don’t go, I truly miss it.

    I also try and talk to people when I am stress. When I am in the middle of stress, it is hard for me to see a different perspective and sometimes I need my friends to pull me out of the stress. Sometimes just hearing a different perspective helps me manage my stress. Reasoning it out with someone what is the cause of my stress helps to manage it.

  2. My name is Jay and i am a junior at I.s.

    1. How do you maintain balance in your life?

    I maintain a balance between my social and school life by leaving a good amount of time to hang out with friends and time to do homework. Being at I.s. there can be a lot of stress over homework especially when your up all night working on homework during the week. I believe that going out with friends is a way to relax and not worry about homework for a couple of hours.
    After going out and having fun for a few hours I think is a way to clear your head, and then you are able to concentrate better on studying and doing homework.

    2. How do you manage your stress?

    I manage my stress by staying in some type of sport or activity. I think that sports is a great way to release stress because it keeps you active and busy and not only worrying about homework or tests all the time. Although sports can help relieve stress, there are times when playing sports can add on stress.

    Another way to relieve stress that i think is helpful is watching movies with friends or family. Watching movies helps clear my mind because i like to get into the movies and not worry so much about homework all the time.
    After watching a movie or tv, i think that it is a good time to sit down and get some homework done.