How to Deal With Being a Gifted Student

Three Parts:Excelling at AcademicsDealing with your Peers and TeachersUnderstanding Yourself and Your Abilities

Being a gifted student comes with a unique set of problems and benefits. There are a number of ways that gifted students can cope with and work on being the best students they can be. Gifted students can achieve success and gain more confidence by understanding themselves and their own abilities, learning to better interact with teachers and other students, and managing themselves in the classroom.

Part 1
Excelling at Academics

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    Stay focused. No matter how many talents, interests, or obligations you have, do not allow yourself to lose focus of your goals.
    • Prioritize your goals and decide which are most important and might need the most time considering your long-term objectives.
    • Plan ahead and manage your time so that you can balance all of your obligations. Remember, you can’t do everything!
    • Identify clearly what you want to achieve and then find people, such as teachers, guidance counselors, and college professors, who can help you develop a step-by-step plan.[1]
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    Make a list of short-term and long-term goals. This will help you stay focused on your priorities. Do this by making a list and then ranking what goals are most important to you and how you think you might achieve them. Consider the following questions when making your list:
    • What do you want to achieve this year in terms of your studies and intellectual growth?
    • If you’re in middle school, where do you want to go to high school?
    • If you’re in high school, what do you want to do after graduation? If you want to start a business or go right to work, start thinking about that now and line up a mentor. If you plan to go to college or technical school, consider what school would be best for your chosen career path and your long-term plans. Consider college rankings as a way to evaluate specific programs.
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    Develop a good work ethic. Remember, just because you are gifted does not mean you have to work less. You should do your best to channel your gifts and your energies so you can succeed and achieve your short-term and long-term goals. Do this by committing yourself to excellence in everything you do.[2]
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    Stay challenged and be proactive about your education. Talk to your parents and teachers about what you can do to stay challenged or get ahead. In most cases, they will be happy to help you find work that is engaging and challenging. In addition, there are other things you can do:
    • Cultivate your gift. If you are interested in or excel at one subject or another, make sure that you do everything you can to hone your abilities in that subject.
    • Talk to teachers about Honors, Advance Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes in a specific subject field that you like. Visit the IB website at for more information. Visit the AP College Board website at for more information about courses that might be offered at your school.
    • Don’t ignore your work in other subjects. All of your classes are important in cultivating a well-developed intellect.
    • Ask questions in class if you are confused or want to know more.
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    Manage your perfectionism. Avoid the temptation to achieve perfection in everything you do. Perfection will get in your way and undermine your ability to balance the different goals you have.
    • Know when to quit a specific assignment or task.
    • Match the time commitment to the value of assignments. Don’t spend five hours perfectly outlining a history textbook chapter instead of studying for your chemistry test that you’ll take the next day.
    • Enjoy the process, not the perfect product. The goal of education is to learn and to develop your intellect, not to achieve perfection on every assignment or in every class.[3]
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    Try not to become obsessed with grades. Just because you are gifted does not mean you have to make an A in every subject every day. Remember, some people are gifted in certain activities or subjects, and no one is perfect. Your goal should be intellectual growth and understanding, not perfect grades.

Part 2
Dealing with your Peers and Teachers

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    Be modest, supportive, and helpful. Try to always be humble when it comes to your abilities and help others. Be a model for other gifted students in how they should treat others.
    • Help or tutor friends and peers who are struggling or need assistance.
    • Be supportive of others in their academic work or in their effort to overcome their own limitations.
    • Refrain from teasing others or making jokes about others’ abilities.
    • Don’t brag or be arrogant about your abilities when dealing with other students.
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    Avoid seeing everything as a competition or as a chance to prove yourself. Approach intellectual activities as an opportunity to learn, grow, and foster cooperation. While competition is good, if taken too far, it can create conflict and alienate you from other people. It is best to see academic activities – homework, tests, writing papers – as an opportunity to cultivate your own gifts, rather than to beat or out compete other people.
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    Surround yourself with peers who share your ambitions and your interests. Try to find friends who share your commitment to knowledge and to cultivating your gifts. Avoid social connections that make you feel poorly about yourself, make others feel badly about themselves, or lead you toward activities that are counterproductive to your goals in life and as a student.[4]
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    Work with and communicate with your teacher or professor about your education. The best way to cultivate a healthy relationship with your teacher is to talk to them about issues concerning your education. Do this in a polite way so that the teacher can see that you are engaged in your education and want to take a proactive role in it.
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    Try to be a balanced individual. When socializing with others, don’t always try to steer the conversation to what interests you and what you are good at. Move outside of your comfort zone, and engage others on topics or subjects that they are interested in as well. Remember, part of being a successful gifted student is interacting with other students and teachers in a healthy and well-balanced way.

Part 3
Understanding Yourself and Your Abilities

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    Understand what being gifted really means. Gifted does not mean mere intelligence or book smarts. Gifted people excel at a variety of activities and in a number of different ways. Extraordinary talents can be expressed through art, athletics, communication, mechanics, and more. This means that a gifted student will not always be at the top of the class in every subject, but might just excel in one particular subject.
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    Be proud of all your assets, including (but not limited to) your intelligence. Being a well-adjusted and successful gifted student means that you should be proud of all aspects of who you are. Pride in self should transcend mere intelligence, but you should be confident in who you are as a family member, an athlete, and a friend. At the same time, don’t let this go to your head. And remember, you are not the center of the universe!
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    Realize that you don’t know everything. Embrace the fact that you are a student. Being a student is a privileged position. You have the benefit of learning from teachers and professors who have substantial education and life experience. Approach your knowledge and experience limitations as an opportunity to grow and learn from others.
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    Avoid unrealistic expectations for yourself. Expect that you may not be good at everything just because you are gifted. Being gifted does not mean that you have to succeed or can succeed at everything. Recognize where your talents lie, and set your expectations accordingly.[5]


  • Gifted means little if you’re not happy and don’t achieve your short-term and long-term goals. *Think about where you want to be in 3, 5, or 10 years, and make that happen.
  • Middle School students should consider the classes they take, their extracurricular activities, and where they will go for high school.
  • High school students should consider all of the above, as well as what they want to do after they graduate, and whether they want to work, start their own business, go to technical school, or to the university.
  • College students should consider what they want to do after college, and if, and where they want to go to graduate school.
  • Long-term planning is key to success and to building a happy life and a successful career!

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Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades