Siblings & School: What does your order in the family say about your relationship with academics?


Infographic created by Maaryia Quadri.

Guinea pig. The forgotten child. Princess. So many different well-known sibling stereotypes, but the question is: are they true? These stereotypes actually originate from a psychologist by the name of Alfred Adler, who hypothesized that birth order affects one’s personality. According to him, the different traits of every child within this order stem from a competition for superiority among siblings. First borns are overachievers, middle children are often left out, and the youngest are self centered. As the eldest child of three, I agree to the token sibling roles pretty well. However, I was curious as to how this affected my fellow students’ performance in school, andif it was indeed factual.  

After surveying over 300 students,I thought the answers would be typical per sibling type, but right when I started off people started deviating from the theory’s categories. Multiple students stated they were twins, or had more than just two siblings. The eldest wasn’t the only organized child, in fact, all siblings were fairly organized. The younger siblings weren’t lazy about their education, 185 students actually viewed school in a positive light. There wasn’t any battle for sibling superiority in sight – instead, many students viewed their parents as supporters of their academic careers, and all worked hard for the grades they had. Nearly half reported similar academic performance to their siblings, and 56% had an A average in every class. 

Rather than a slew of family rivalries and rigid roles Adler -along with myself- had prematurely placed siblings within, these Glenbard West students debunked that theory with ease. Each child was hardworking and successful, and utilized their siblings as encouraging examples instead of an impossible standard. No one had any predisposed advantage over the other. All simply employed time and dedication to excel, with or without a so-called birth order effect.