Of all the familiar characters who reemerge at the start of every school year, from jock to geek to teacher’s pet, perhaps the most intriguing is the overachiever. We all know one when we see one: the student whose effort, either in the classroom or on the field, compensates for whatever talent might be lacking. In a sense, the label is a compliment. Overachievement requires, by definition, a tireless commitment to success. At the same time, it’s a touch derisive. If overachievers had more academic or artistic ability to begin with, there would be no need to overdo it.