How to Work with Overly Ambitious Students

Even while many students strive for academic success, not everyone has the same life goals. Every student is unique, thus they all have distinct dreams and aspirations from their classmates. Some students don’t put pressure on themselves to figure out what their next move is in the future because they are happy with their pace and want to learn accordingly. Others, on the other hand, put extreme pressure on themselves to excel in all they do to gain admission to the top universities and won’t settle for anything less.

While many students use home tutors to assist them when they are having difficulty understanding their classes, tutors also work with students who are succeeding and would like to pursue additional education. Initially, it could seem favorable to have a really ambitious student. They are enthusiastic and want to learn, after all. It has drawbacks, though, and isn’t always the case.

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How to work with overly ambitious students?

It would initially appear to be the perfect example of what students ought to be—ready to learn and dedicated to their studies. However, these students don’t just set aside time for studying; they give their entire life—without the luxury of relaxation—to learning and honing their skills. They don’t even see failure as a choice; it’s not something they can voluntarily accept and turn into a learning opportunity.

In a home tutor’s career, there will come a time when you may meet students like this. This is why, we’ve gathered some tips to make working with them easier and help them learn to relax.

How to Deal With Academic Burnout

1. Review and simplify their goals

Rarely do these students lack a “clear” career path in mind. They already know where they want to go, what they want to accomplish, and the route they want to take to get there. This may be advantageous in certain situations. Students who have already formed a concept in their minds, nevertheless, can also find that it limits their options.

Consider a student who is already putting in a lot of effort to get into their ideal school and who wouldn’t even think about looking at other possibilities if it wasn’t their ideal school. They believe that the greatest path is to obtain the highest grades. They risk missing out on learning the abilities they might need to get into their ideal school because they are overly preoccupied with achieving their goal. For this reason, it is important to guide students such as these so they don’t experience additional strain when getting ready for entrance exams or building a profile in order to get into the school of their choice.

As a tutor, you can aid them by helping them review their goals and simplifying the work by tasks they can easily and slowly do. You can also help them if they are struggling to juggle their extracurricular activities, especially if those won’t directly affect their profile, grades, or class standing. Let them understand that having many options can be to their advantage.

2. Help create realistic expectations

This doesn’t mean that you have to set and ground the students down from their over-the-top expectations and goals. Ultimately, the purpose of a home tutor is to assist and mentor the student. But, if a student has a narrow focus and sets an unrealistic goal, it may also lead to an obsession with the objective, making it difficult for them to appreciate the people or activities around them.

You may assist the student in being aware of the things they can still like and be interested in without getting in the way of their goal by helping them create more reasonable and extremely attainable expectations. Sometimes the concept of “perfect,” whether it be for a course or a school, can distort a student’s judgment. The student will also learn to accept failure more easily and have a backup plan in case the first plan doesn’t work out by setting more reasonable expectations for the courses or schools they wish to apply to.

3. Advise to enjoy the journey

As mentioned before, a single-minded person could miss out on events going on around them. A child who believes they have only one chance to have the “perfect” future for themselves will not be able to appreciate the process of getting there, and when they do succeed in their endeavors, they won’t be entirely content.

The adventure of achieving a goal aids in teaching a child social skills and life lessons like how to handle failure. Students who have too much ambition risk missing out on their passions and opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. They are unable to fully pursue their interests in sports, music, the arts, or other extracurricular activities because they believe it will not further their academic objectives. While striving for and achieving academic success are admirable goals, an excessive fixation on it wouldn’t be good for the child either. In addition to not engaging in other activities, students might not grow emotionally or socially.

Encourage students to develop interests-based hobbies that are unrelated to their schoolwork or schooling. To encourage the child to discover interests, you could even take them on a field trip to a museum or park. They will learn that there are things other than their studies that can equally satisfy them if you offer them the chance to pursue their other interests. Aside from that, you can also help them understand that experiencing the real world gives them the chance to apply their academic skills and use them in real-life scenarios.

4. Teach students to not be afraid of failure

Even if a child does exceptionally well in every subject matter, there is no assurance that they will succeed in everything they try. There isn’t a perfect method. Additionally, there is no assurance that students who want to attend their desired institution will be able to secure a spot. A lot of colleges consider a student’s character in addition to their academic and extracurricular achievements before granting admission. A child might not be admitted for reasons other than academics because every school has its own admissions procedures and standards.

Overly ambitious students can become very upset when they don’t get their way. As dramatic as it seems, some students’ disappointment at not getting into their ideal school will make them feel as though everything is collapsing. Since they failed at their first attempt, they won’t listen to any words of comfort and will believe they will never succeed again.

As a tutor, you should stress the value of having a backup plan and assist students in realizing that they shouldn’t concentrate solely on getting into the one or two institutions of their choosing. They are restricting themselves and will soon be shutting the door on the possibility of taking a different course. Make sure that students comprehend that not everything will end if they fail at anything. They can choose a different route and arrive at the same spot.

5. List the help of their parents

If the student is persistently excessively ambitious, it is advisable to involve the parents at some point as unrealistic expectations may cause issues. But remember the parents’ perspective as well, concerning their child’s future. Some parents are also the ones encouraging their children to go outside their comfort zones.

Have a talk with the parents and the child about the advantages of establishing reasonable and attainable goals for them, as well as the potential consequences of an excessive focus on the goals. Tell them that while it’s acceptable to strive for an excellent education, a child can still achieve success in the future without attending a prestigious institution.


Throughout their work, home tutors will likely encounter a variety of students, thus it’s not impossible that they will run with ambitious students as well. Managing them might be challenging, particularly if they are focused on goals already. Even if tutors are available to support them, it’s crucial that they receive guidance from them to prevent burnout. Tutors can facilitate the achievement of their goals by offering assistance.

With the tips stated above, we hope that as a tutor, you can use them to help an overly ambitious student relax and lead them to the right track in attaining their goals. As such, you’ll not only be able to help the child, but you’ll also learn from this experience and ultimately become better at your profession.


Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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