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do valedictorians really fizzle out after high school & wind up in more lowly jobs

aurorad12345aurorad12345 Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
edited January 2008 in Parent Cafe
than would be expected?

does the push to be #1 in high school backfire and cause valedictorians to lose the desire to work equally hard, if not harder, for grades in college? thus damning their admissions to grad, med, or law school?
Any valedictorians or saluditorians out there who want to comment on this? The only valedictorian I know became a teacher, she said she discovered other things to do besides study once she got to college.
Post edited by aurorad12345 on

Replies to: do valedictorians really fizzle out after high school & wind up in more lowly jobs

  • quaerequaere Registered User Posts: 1,264 Senior Member
    Of the two valedictorians I know, one finished med school near the top of her class and is now a successful doctor; the other is at a top college and doing fine. These are only two data points, of course - but I'm guessing valedictorians don't "fizzle out" any more often than non-valedictorians do. The push to be #1 certainly doesn't apply only to valedictorians.
  • ricegalricegal Registered User Posts: 1,350 Senior Member
    The valedictorian from my high school is a chair at St. Jude's hospital.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Registered User Posts: 3,731 Senior Member
    My HS valedictorian would qualify as one that "fizzled" - story has it that he got heavy into cocaine and amassed a sizable gambling debt before disappearing under mysterious circumstances for about 10 months during the middle of junior year of college. He eventually resurfaced safely and went into rehab. Last I'd heard he was waiting tables at some greasy spoon in a smaller town about 20 minutes from our hometown. This was a kid who had been accepted to Harvard, but turned them down because through all his scholarships he was earning about $1500/month to go to our State Flagship U.
  • tokenadulttokenadult Registered User Posts: 17,472
    This is a really interesting question. I'm going to move the thread to the Parents Forum with a redirect because I think it will bring up some interesting discussion there.
  • incandescentlyincandescently Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    one valedictorian i know (and i'm well aware that anecdotes aren't evidence) has a 4.0 at an ivy, seems to excel at everything he tries, and is one of the nicest, most considerate, and most likable people i've ever met. i've no doubt that he'll be very successful. the other started college at 14 and has since then been diagnosed with an eating disorder and depression, takes all sorts of psych meds, struggles with self-hatred and self-injury, spent two weeks after freshman year hospitalized for depression, and is now an intensely unhappy seventeen-year-old college junior. on the other hand, she has a gpa above 3.5 and is looking into graduate programs, so who knows?
  • exploringMOMexploringMOM Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    My hubby was valedictorian, with the highest SAT in his state. He went into astronautical engineering, and is now a professor (with a PhD). The salutorian in his year is now a stay at home mom in the town she grew up in.

    In my husband's case, he didn't have to work particularly hard, and certainly wasn't trying to become valedictorian (so the issue of burnout was never relevant). He was and is just a genius, succeeding despite his family environment (his parents were poor, they had no education themselves, his dad was alcoholic). I found some old standardized tests showing he was doing grade 12 math in the 7th grade, without the benefit of extra tutoring or education.
  • DunninLADunninLA Registered User Posts: 4,271 Senior Member
    The valedictorian in my class went to Stanford, and almost flunked out freshman year. WAAAAY too much time playing the pinball machines. He turned it around very nicely, married a nice basketball player from Stanford, and has an athlete daughter that went to the Olympics at 15 and is now in Sports Illustrated all the time :)
  • BookladyBooklady Registered User Posts: 3,122 Senior Member
    The two top girls in my high school (it was an all-girls' school) went to Harvard and Princeton, where they both did brilliantly. One went on to get an M.D./Ph.D from Harvard and is a cancer researcher. The other got a Ph.D in Physics from Caltech and works in the aerospace industry. They are both married with children, and I know that the physicist, a close friend of mine, has a very happy life.
  • Muffy333Muffy333 Registered User Posts: 2,108 Senior Member
    I wasn't a valedictorian so I'd like to believe they fizzle and burn :-) sadly, I know both my class vals are highly accomplished; one's a doctor and one an activist and I've seen their names mentioned in the news in a positive way several times.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    H was a valedictorian at a competitive h.s. He also was the first person in his immediate family to finish 10th grade. He wasn't trying to be valedictorian, doesn't even remember studying that hard. In fact, he says that in his opinion, another student deserved to be valedictorian, but that student had a habit of ticking off teachers, so they didn't grade him as high as they did H. As for H, after a career in which he was an editor at a top newspaper, he became a journalism professor.

    The valedictorian of my h.s. went to Harvard, and after graduation became a minister.

    I personally haven't met or heard of valedictorians who fizzled out. It seems that their strong work ethics helped them be successful in the fields of their choice.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    My older daughters high school didn't have valedictorians- and most of them are pretty accomplished- @ 25 yrs old.
    One of the most outgoing of the group is a regional/national producer/writer for NPR for example.
    My younger daughters high school had 10% of the class one year valedictorians. ( everyone who had, had straight A's since 9th grade)
    I don't know any of them well enough to know how they are doing.

    I think what I have observed however, from my own high school days were kids that were very social and accomplished in high school, but never were able to continue that trajectory of accomplishment ( or perhaps they weren't interested)-.
    Kids who peak in high school, may have had things come relatively easy for them, and once they get out in the " real world", the transition to struggle and missteps like the rest of us, may be hard to deal with.

    On the other hand- kids who struggle in school- but are persistent anyway- may happily find that once they are out of high school- the world is a sunnier place :)
  • exploringMOMexploringMOM Registered User Posts: 66 Junior Member
    Muffy, I hear you. I met someone not that long ago. Before meeting, I knew she had been (and still very much looks like) a professional model. Represented her country of origin in the Olympics. And recently finished her PhD in neuroscience, with more publications than myself.

    I was really kinda secretly hoping to discover she had a nasty personality or was missing a sense of humor or something. Belief in a just world and all that. Unfortunately she was also a really wonderful and charming person too! Dang it! :)
  • amb3ramb3r Registered User Posts: 1,504 Senior Member
    I know a val who went to Harvard and fizzled.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    Belief in a just world and all that. Unfortunately she was also a really wonderful and charming person too! Dang it!

    Doncha just hate that?;)
  • historymomhistorymom Registered User Posts: 3,467 Senior Member
    Ours married between her soph and jr years of college, finished her BA and has been for the last 17 years a stay at home mom. I don't think she fizzled she's just on a different path.
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