Is there REALLY such a thing as overachieving?

Nurses Career Support


I have somewhat of a statement, somewhat of a question. First, a little background. . .

I'm an ADN student, transferring to Carolina in Spring 2006 to get my BSN. My terminal goal is Nurse Anesthesia, so I believe going ahead and getting my BSN out of the way would be the best plan for me. The problem?? My A&P classmates at the Tech school I'm attending now. I made the "mistake" of telling them after the second exam that I wasn't accepting anything less than an "A." (Which is true - my average is 99.5). I am FULLY aware (thanks to many of you on this forum) of what it's going to take from me to get in NA school, and I'm doing the best I can to make myself an attractive candidate for when the time comes to apply to NA school. Did that explanation work for my classmates? Nooooooo.......The class average is 67. 67!!!! These people are going to be nurses and they can't identify a femur from a humerus???????

My question for you is this: Is it REALLY possible to overacheive? In my case, it's basically a mindset. I want to be a Nurse Anesthetist and nothing, nothing at all is going to prevent me from diving full force into my studies to make it happen. I need A's in A&P, Micro and other science courses, right?? Fine. I'll do what I have to do to make that happen. I don't feel like I've been rude or arrogant to my classmates - actually, I've felt kind of embarrassed to share exam grades and lab practical grades with them, because...well....most of them are failing. I don't feel I need to explain myself to them any further, but I still get the sideways comments (teacher's pet, goody 2 shoes, know-it-all). I'm sure they are said in good fun, but why does the A-maker in the class have to be the one to catch crap for making A's????

Anyone with an opinion?

B in SC


463 Posts

Is there REALLY such a thing as overachieving?



Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

"A" is excellent. "C" is average. So you are going to find in your education that most people are not excellent. Don't worry about them, don't compare grades, don't go advertising your 99.5 when the average is much lower. Just go about your business, keep reaching for the stars.

My only problem with people who strive for A's is how heartbroken and bent out of shape they can be when they make a 94 or gasp an 88 (even though in the end they still get their A's). Sometimes through the tears they loose their perspective. (I'm sure to get flamed here, but what the heck).

Here's my approach, and this is only me: I'm working on my BSN right now after being an ADN nurse for 15 years. Is that I'm going to give 100%, and do my absolute best, and then accept whatever results happen. I graduated my ADN program with a 3. 7. Thus far, I've made nothing less than an A in my BSN program. My goal is the BSN, not the 4.0. (I just started and am in my 2nd course, but my first course I made A's on all seven papers, and A's on all assignments. In Chemistry so far my grades are 102 and 97).

That's just me, I certainly can't discourage you from shooting for the 4.0 because that's you. It will definately benefit you in the getting into a CRNA school of your choice and I wish you nothing but the best.

BTW, I went to Carolina fresh out of high school in 1977. I had a ball, I love that school. (Never finished beyond my first year, but that's another story).


594 Posts

Specializes in ED, Cardiac Medicine, Retail Health.

I think that you are a goal oriented person. People display insecurity in many ways. With some its anger, others its envy. Just take it in stride and accomplish your goal. I dont think that you are over achieving. If you had a learning disability, then I might consider you an over achiever. You obviously have the aptitude to get A's. Keep up the good work and good luck to you!


514 Posts

There's nothing wrong with trying to get all As. That doesn't make you a goody-two-shoes at all. I used to have a mindset of: "Ok. Bs aren't bad," but then it seemed that all I expected of myself were Bs, not As, so my grades weren't the best. Now, I am trying my hardest to get all As in my courses for the prenursing program, and since I am paying for college myself, I have more motivation to succeed. I've been called names for studying so hard, but I really believe that it'll be worth it in the end. Good luck. :)


4,516 Posts

Yes..if one becomes a human doing vs a human being.

Thanks so much for responding! I have 2 little girls, ages 2 and 3, and it's difficult somedays to strike the balance between my children, my husband, my job and school. I feel stretched at all ends sometimes. But, never would I allow the time I spend on studying to interefere with Paint Time or baths or books before bed. If nothing else, the more time I spend with my children and husband just makes me more focused when I do get the chance to sit down and study.

I'm not inhuman - I do have a life outside of school. But, I do keep myself focused on what needs to be done to accomplish what I want to accomplish.

Thanks again!

B in SC

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

My only problem with people who strive for A's is how heartbroken and bent out of shape they can be when they make a 94 or gasp an 88 (even though in the end they still get their A's). Sometimes through the tears they loose their perspective. (I'm sure to get flamed here, but what the heck).


No flames from me, Tweety ... just total agreement. I was a "super-student" in high school -- valedictorian, awards, all that stuff. From high school, I went straight to Duke and its most prestigious academic scholarship. I have academic credit from Oxford University in England, a long list of professional nursing achievements, a PhD, and a job that many nurses consider the ultimate "dream job." People who don't know me well sometimes look at me as one of those over-achievers.

BUT ... those who know me well know that I have had my share of failures, of bad grades, of projects that flopped, of jobs that "didn't work out," etc. Learning to cope with failure has been part of my process of professional and personal maturation. As you said above, we all need to develop a healthy perspective when it comes to our lives, our work, our achievements. Sometimes, high achievers fail to develop that perspective -- and drive themselves and those around them crazy. They can also offend those around them by being so self-centered about their performance that they become insensitive to what's happening around them and to the needs of others. When that happens, they lose their ability to be a leader and lose their ability to make the most of their talents.

High performance is great ... We should all strive to do high-quality work. But we should also work on developing a perspective of our performance that allows for less than perfection.


Tweety, BSN, RN

33,525 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

I went to school with a girl who would not sleep the night before a test and was just a wreck, and would cry real tears over missed questions. It's was a shame because she got the 4.0. She could have easily gotten the 4.0 without all that extra stress and tears.

llg, thanks for sharing your perspective. I'm of the opinion that in order to truly enjoy life's successes one has to learn to accept failure. Because to be fully human is to fail. Kind of like, in order to experience joy you have to know it feels like to cry from the depths of your soul, otherwise you're not really living.

To the original poster, sounds like you really have it together. Go for that 4.0 and best of luck to you in the future.

Specializes in ER.

If you refuse to accept anything less than perfection in a unperfect world, disapointment will come sooner or later. Prepare for it. It is not the end of the world. Wisdom comes from handling failure and disappointment rather than from success.


184 Posts

Is there such a thing as overachieving? The answer is "no", and the reason is because there is only 24 hours in everyone's day. The so called "over-achievers, through this logic, must be under-achieving in some other form.

For instance... What if you spent 1 less hour studying each night. Maybe your 99.5.. would only be a 92... You'd still have a firm grasp of the subject, but you'd gain so much more. You lost one hour with your family... why... so that one day you could make a ton of money? What are you going to do with that money... probably try and buy back the time you lost.

So you have a 99.5 eh? Why not a 99.6, or better yet, a 100. Maybe if you studied one hour longer each night, take one more hour from your family... you wouldn't have missed that silly question that you're probably kicking yourself for.

I'll tell you why people don't like you:

1) If you average is 67.77, there is probably going to be a curve to bring the average back to a passing grade. And frankly, you're "messin-up the curve".

2) That one question you missed... and kicked yourself for missing it... yeah, its obnoxious.

3) The very fact that you calculated your grade down to the tenth of a percent... ummmm... its either obsessive or bragging. Why not just say you've got an "A" or "High A"? If you just said 99%, would it make you look less smart? I don't think it would... but you probably do, or you wouldn't have added the extra 5 tenths.

4) Admittedly, a little jealously.

5) You don't like them, so why should they like you? You obviously look down upon them: "These people are going to be nurses and they can't identify a femur from a humerus???????" Remember that an A&P class probably has pre-nursing students along with people that haven't figured out what they really want to do... can you really expect them to do as well as you after you've has med/surg/ortho classes?

I think you need to re-evaluate your whole attitude. And ask a few quetions:

1) Why do you want to be a CRNA? I know 95% of potential CRNAs are in it for the money, whether they admit it or not. Look at how popular its becoming (90% of the new posts on this website) and don't tell me that its because sitting around watching a sleeping patient is "SUPER EXCITING!"

2) Is the money worth it? You're going to miss the next 4+ years of some special time in your kids life.

3) "nothing, nothing at all is going to prevent me from diving full force into my studies to make it happen" Really? What about having another kid? What about your husband and his dreams? What if your kids say "We miss you"? What if.... what if... what if...? There are so many roadblocks along the way... and your language seems obsessive. Is a future job that you've NEVER DONE before really the MOST IMPORTANT thing in your life?

Remember that there are only 24 hours in the day, and if you're getting an "A"

school, you're probably getting a "C" somewhere else in your life.

I was one of those 4.0 highschool students, went to University of California at Berkeley, and now i'm in an ADN nursing school. My nursing GPA is 3.0 exactly... every single class: Bs. And i couldn't be happier. My life... I'd give that a B score too. Personal: B. Family: B. Recreational: B. Sleep: B.

Its certainly a career that I would like to excel in... but remember, its just a job. =)

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

You're probably going to get a few "flames," Slobgob, but I think you raise many interesting points. But then, like me, you have had the 4.0 and learned that it does not necessarily bring you happiness and/or success in life. (Been there, done that, found out it wasn't all that it's cracked up to be.)

However, I do think that when you are taking responsibility for other people's lives, it is important to strive for better than just OK. While B's are probably OK (assuming you are going to a good school), too many students are content to slide by with C's -- and too many students graduate without having learned as much as they should have in school. I live in a city in which 2 of our local nursing schools have about a 50% pass rate on the NCLEX exam. Those students who are sliding by with B's and C's are woefully under-prepared for the real world of professional nursing even though they graduate.

Sometimes, people SHOULD set standards that are higher than "mediocre."


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