I'm surprised more honor students don't disappear.

I was an honor student in college. I don't mention that very often in the real world, but it's relevant tonight, because an honor student at another Midwestern university is in the news tonight. It got me to thinking about college, high-achieving students, and delusional parents.

My alma mater had a fairly small community of honors student, so I tended to see the same faces in my various Honors courses. I saw a lot of fucked-up and self-destructive stuff going on among my fellow teenage intellectuals. Most of them seemed perpetually sleep-deprived, of course, and more than a few were abusing stimulants of the legal and not-so-legal varieties. (The Honors Department, in its clueless manner, never suspected drug abuse unless a student's grades dropped.) Beyond that, there were assorted conversions to odd sects of Christianity, suicide attempts, scary crushes on professors, and seldom-discussed nervous breakdowns. I know from experience that high-achieving students are a high-strung lot, and that the adults who say they're responsible for those students seldom notice until a loud and obvious calamity strikes.

Which is why I'm not the least bit surprised that Audrey Seiler was probably faking her abduction. In fact, I've been arguing that possibilty since I realized the only personal trait CNN seems to know about her is "she always gets good grades". The girl is probably surrounded by well-meaning but clueless friends and family who assume the high-achiever has no real problems, so they never look for any, and therefore don't find any. Poor Audrey's cracking up from the same things that cracked up honors students in my day: being perfect. Mysterious disappearances and fake abductions are just a way to get some peace and/or sympathy. I'm betting the other honors student in her school aren't nearly as surprised by this turn of events as her family (or her university) is.

When I try to discuss this with people, I'm finding it's the people with children who are most likely to not get what I'm saying. That's probably more evidence for what I'm saying, come to think of it.

Posted at 11:19:23 PM EST on 02 April 2004 from Trenton, MI