Psychologist Linnus S. Pecaut groups underachieving students into these categories:

* Trust seekers. Early in their lives, something interferes with these children's normal development: a divorce, perhaps, an alcoholic parent. As a result they feel insecure and feel threatened by their outside (school) environment. "They daydream or, as adolescents, they continually are falling in love. Falling in love for one semester is normal. Falling in love 14 semesters in a row is not."

* Independence seekers. "These children often suffer from poor parent-child communication. They see that their parents value good grades, so they fail. They do well in English and one parent suggests they think about journalism. Sudenly they start getting terrible grades in English. They always seem to be working against their own best interests."

* Approval seekers. These children often are subject to regular criticism by their parents. They are so eager to please them that they choke up. When they do poorly, their parents get angry. When they do better, they get no positive feedback. "They may do well on their homework, but freeze on tests. This youngster spends excessive time cueing off the expectations of other people."

* Dependence seekers. "The worse this child does in school, the more his parents sit on him." Eventually, he comes to fear that if he does well, his parents won't pay any attention to him.