4 Common Struggles Of High Performing Students


1. What is a high-performing student?

2. What is the quality of high-performing students?

3. What are the main traits of high-performing students?

4. How do you become a high-performing student?

5. What are the challenges of high-performing students?


Gifted and high-achieving students have their own set of unique qualities and challenges. In this two-part series, our experts explain how parents can identify them and support these students, to thrive both in and out of the classroom! 

In our GoStudent expert talks, we speak to experts in the field of education! Find out more on real-life insights from leaders in the ed industry. 🚀

Some students are always at the top of their class. From maths to reading they speedway ahead of their peers. They are often perfectionists in ways that astound adults! Many of these seemingly bright students can actually be unnoticed brilliant minds. Though they need their parent's attention and support to thrive! ✊ high-performing-students

What is a high-performing student? 


Rebecca Howell, the senior education consultant at Potential Plus UK, describes high-performing students as those with a “high cognitive ability for reasoning and grasping advanced concepts.” These parameters can often be known through tests like IQ scores and dyslexia assessments. 


What is the quality of high-performing students? 


A holistic definition from experts reads: “Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity.” 🧠 High performance can show itself in academics or even in other fields like arts and sports. Though high-performing students aren’t necessarily gifted at everything in life. They can and often do struggle with some subjects in school and in other areas of development.  


What are the main traits of high-performing students? 


According to the work of Dr Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center in the USA, there are twenty-five descriptors which represent children with high learning potential. The study was applicable to a wide age range, socioeconomic backgrounds and gender.   

  • Learns rapidly
  • Extensive vocabulary
  • Excellent memory
  • Reasons well
  • Strong curiosity
  • Compassion for others
  • Vivid imagination
  • Long attention span
  • Concern with justice and fairness
  • Emotionally sensitive
  • High energy level
  • Perfectionist
  • Questions authority
  • Perseverant in interests
  • Wide range of interests
  • Good at puzzles
  • Ability with numbers
  • Judgement mature at times
  • Quirky or grown-up sense of humour
  • Intense
  • Morally sensitive
  • Prefer older companions and/or adults
  • Keen observer
  • Early or avid reader
  • Highly creative

How do you become a high-performing student? 


🔥 Expert Tip: “Having a high learning potential comes from both; nature and nurture,” says Howell. “So there is an element of genetics and having the opportunity of a good start in life.” 

Howell feels a learning environment that is motivational and has a growth mindset is also crucial for exponential achievement. 💪

According to Colm O’Reilly, director of the centre of talented youth at Dublin City University  points out that “not all students have the same start in life.” 

This means that students don’t have equal opportunities to excel due to socio-economic setbacks. This is where nature can come into play with students even from disadvantaged backgrounds who can have the potential to excel as high performers.    

What are the challenges of high-performing students? 


👉  Lack Of Academic Stimulation 

🔥 Expert Tip: “Gifted students have an accelerated rate of development,” says O'Reilly.“While school curriculums are designed for age and not ability.”

So high performance students don’t usually fit in mainstream school systems. 

They can feel bored and distracted by lessons. Unlike their peers, classroom learning won’t be challenging enough to keep them engaged. 

👉  Difficulty In Making Friends  

🔥 Expert Tip: “It might be that these students have friendship issues as well,” says Howell. “This is because they have some advanced abilities for their age and therefore struggle to relate to their peers.” 

Due to the unequal opportunities in society, some gifted students can find themselves more isolated from peers than others. 

For instance, O’Reilly points out that gifted students in Maths would most often find it far more difficult to get access to a peer group than those students who are talented in sports.  

🔥 Expert Tip: “All students need a peer group that functions on their level,” says O’Reilly. “One with whom they can hang out, share their interests and get critical feedback on their work.” 

Without peers, students mental health is bound to suffer. As much of our happiness and self-esteem depend on the ability to be popular enough to make meaningful friends.  

👉  Surrounded With High Expectations 

🔥 Expert Tip: “These kids [high performance] can suffer from quite a bit of misunderstanding,” says Howell. “As sometimes they appear mature for their age, and so people think that they can do lots of things. Though in many areas of development they are in line with their chronological age.”

A typically low or normal area of development in gifted kids can be their emotional needs and intelligence.

👉  Experience Anxiety 

🔥 Expert Tip: These students [high performance] experience anxiety because higher reasoning ability means that they're able to think, like a much older child,” says Howell. “Yet they don’t have the experience or knowledge on what to do when a [stressful] situation occurs.” 

Engaging high-performance students can appear daunting

Experts say that “the uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order for them to develop optimally.”

Read the next article in this two-part series, to know which parenting styles you can adopt to support high-performing students’ academic success and social development

If you find your high-performance child bored with their school lessons, GoStudent can help you! Our expert tutors will give them the academic stimulus they need. Book a trial lesson with one of our tutors here