Alpha Achievers


There’s little social stigma attached to being a geek nowadays U.S. Army RDECOM, Creative Commons (2012) ©

Teen America: Alpha Achievers

From Coasties to K-Poppers, the US is home to a range of teen subcultures. In the third of a series exploring Gen Z and Gen Y tribes, Andrea Graham Richeson delves into the overscheduled world of Alpha Achievers. Do these ambitious teens embody the model student and future star employee?

Key facts:

When should young people start preparing for their future? If you were to ask an American teenager or their parents, they’d likely tell you that they’ve already begun. Faced with increasingly competitive college admissions, a rapidly changing economy and global competition, today’s youth are doing everything they can to prepare for an uncertain future. Driven to succeed, Gen Z’s Alpha Achievers are taking a more rigorous and determined approach to their studies, extracurriculars and career development, raising the bar for everyone.

Gen Zers are more ambitious than previous generations, especially compared to the ‘slacker’ teen stereotype applied to their Gen X parents. There are more high school students enrolled in honours and college level classes than ever before; in 2013, 33% of public high school graduates had taken an Advancement Placement exam, compared to just 19% in 2003. [1] Alpha Achievers are also flocking to tutoring services and enrichment programs to gain an edge over the competition; the SAT and college prep industry took in $4.5 billion in 2014. [2]

Born out of an era of economic upheaval and rapid tech advancement, Alphas Achievers are living and thriving in a culture of ultra-competitiveness. They’re more conservative and status driven than other youth subcultures, valuing a strong work ethic and its inherent material benefits. With perfect grades, honours classes, varsity sports, extracurriculars, volunteering and maybe even a start-up or two under their belt, Alpha Achievers have made overachieving the new normal. Read more at Canvas8