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Overcoming the Nerd Factor

You’ve heard it before. Someone in your classroom gets an A on a project and another kid makes fun of it … “he must be a nerd…it’s not cool to get As.”

Maybe it has happened to you. Perhaps you did really well on a difficult test on which everyone else got poor grades. As you walked down the hall, you might have heard someone whisper, “teacher’s pet,” or “suck-up” about you.

Maybe your bubble popped right there. How are you supposed to get good grades and aspire to go to college when some of your friends are making fun of you? Maybe those so-called friends who harass you about grades are really only jealous of you or afraid to move ahead and take risks.

Find Your Friends

Now that you are moving up from a middle school to high school, you’ll find a bigger building, more lockers and more students than before. At the same time, there will be more choices available to you.

Find new friends who have more in common with your interests and goals by joining clubs or sports teams that interest you. You’ll hang with other kids who like the same things you do. Most likely, the high school you will attend will have a wide selection of extracurricular activities to join, so keep your eyes and ears open to the opportunities at the beginning of the year (listen to the morning announcements!).

Gravitate to others who want to go to college, too. Make friends with others who are also getting good grades (perhaps they are feeling some alienation, too).

"It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.”-- Ella Fitzgerald

Turn Lemons into Lemonade

You may have heard comments from friends or other adults like: “She doesn’t speak English very well – she must not be very bright,” or “He’s a jock – he won’t know how to write a good term paper” or “Those kids are into rap music – they aren’t college material.” Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, take negative, stereotypical comments that come your way and promise yourself to rise above them. Those comments can be the motivators that will propel you to reach your goals and dreams.

Overcome low expectations from friends or other adults by asking for extra help from teachers and school counselors. Most teachers have after-school office hours to help with homework and assignments. You can use these times to talk to your teacher or counselor about who you are – your goals for college and beyond– they can help you achieve your goals. Be assertive!

Talk to your family. Your family wants more for you than they have and they work hard to provide for you and make ends meet. If you will be the first one of your family to attend college, you might think they don’t fully understand what you are going through at school; at the same time, they have their own life experiences that can encourage you to stay focused on your goal.

Talk to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or other close-to-your-family adults and ask questions about where they have been in their lives and what they want for you. It can open your eyes to a whole new view of your loved ones.

Take One Step at a Time

You know the drill, “nothing ever happens overnight.” Your journey to the rest of your life is just starting, so enjoy the ride. Stay focused on your goal of going to college, but enjoy high school – these four years will go fast.

Make new friends; join extracurricular activities at school or in your community and make special time for your family. Open yourself up to the pleasure of doing a good job, whether it’s on a homework assignment or doing chores and keeping your room organized.

Believe in your ability to go to college…and you will get there, one step at a time.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”--
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Updated: 3/15/2010