SmileTutor Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips How to Work with Overly Ambitious Students

How to Work with Overly Ambitious Students

Every student is different when it comes to their goals in life.

Some students want to have a normal paced learning because they know they can’t rush their education or pressure themselves while they are trying to figure out what they want to do in the future.

Others will pressure themselves into learning everything they could because they want to get into the best schools and won’t accept anything less than that.

Out of all the students that a tutor can get, getting an overly ambitious student may sound like a good thing, but its’ not always the case. These students only dedicate themselves to studying and don’t even give themselves time to rest. To these students, failure is not an option and they won’t settle for second best.

If you have students who are in this category, here are some ways on how you can work with them and help them relax.

Simplify their goals and targets

The first step you need to take to work with an overly ambitious student is by helping them simplify their targets and goals.

Although these students have a “clear” idea of where they want to be in the future, they are actually limiting their options because they aren’t focusing on key areas that will also be needed once they apply for the schools they want to be in in the future.

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Students will find themselves overwhelmed when they prepare for their entrance exams because they will either cram all the things they want to put in their profile to be accepted or focus on the schools they should aim for. It is crucial that these students are guided so that they won’t feel pressured to do all these things at once.

You can start off by helping them review their goals and making the tasks simple.

For example, if they are currently looking into pursuing a career in science, create a criteria that will help them assess which schools will fit their needs. You can also look into their schedule and tell them to take a break from their extracurricular activities in case it is preventing them to focus. Point out that they don’t have to be included in all these activities and pursue only those they do want.

Create more realistic and balanced expectation

There is no such thing as the “perfect school” and if your student is driven to go into one, you should immediately intervene. Even though they will be able to do things perfectly academically, they will definitely push off anyone who wishes to befriend them because they are too obsessed with perfecting their actions.

To help your students out, help them create realistic goals and expectations regarding the things they need to do to achieve their targets.

By creating a realistic expectation about their admissions to any school they want to study at, they will be able to handle failure well and have a back up plan in place in case they don’t make it to their target school.

Teach them to focus on the journey, not the end goal

They say that one only has one shot of being a child and if one focuses too much on what they want to be in the future, it disables them from enjoying the road to those goals.

For overly ambitious students, this will disable them from pursuing the passions that will definitely help them out in the future and even be with people who could understand their love for sports, art or music.

Inspire your students by taking them out on field trips to museums or parks during school holidays. If that is not plausible, use videos and photos to inspire them to check out things they can work on in their spare time.

By giving them the opportunities to try out their interests, they will definitely lay low with their targets and even polish their skills which they can actually use for their applications in certain universities in Singapore.

Prep for disappointment

Even though one is academically perfect and excels in any subject they focus on, there  is no guarantee it will be enough for the student to get a slot in their chosen school. Schools do look into both academic and non-academic performance, as well as the student’s overall character before they consider the student eligible for admission.

If a student is overly ambitious, failure will definitely cripple them and they won’t accept the results positively. To them, it’s the end of the world if they fail to achieve their goals and they won’t be able to succeed in the future.

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As their tutor, it is up to you to help them realise the importance of not being too focused on one or two schools and have a backup in mind. You should also let them know it’s ok to fail once in a while because it helps a person be stronger.

Getting parents involved

Some ambitious students may definitely get some help from their parents who can help them realise if their goals are realistic. However, if you will get them involved, it is important that you take note of the parents’ position regarding their child’s future.

Some parents can be too focused on academic performance to the point that it’s their fault why the student is overly ambitious.

Sit down with both the parent and student and give them realistic scenarios of what can happen if their focus is too much for the child. Explain to them that even if the student doesn’t get into an Ivy league school, they will still be able to succeed in life.


Dealing with an ambitious student can be very difficult, but it is crucial that before they burn out, we guide them accordingly to make their goals easier to attain. With these tips above, you can definitely help these students relax and lead them to the right track that will help them reach their targets easier. Ultimately, you’ll become a better tutor.

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To work on student’s behaviour during your lessons, here are some tips:

Strategies to Get the Best Work from Your Students
10 Steps On How To Mentor Troubled Teens


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.