Many times, students who are academically inclined may not reach their potential because they give in to peer pressure and allow their grades to suffer. What role do the opinions of classmates play in influencing a student's attitude toward school?

The opinions of classmates usually influence a student's attitude toward school. Students want to be liked by their classmates and will do anything to be liked, If a student's classmates do well in school, they will do well to be a member of the group.

Students who excel academically are generally labeled "nerd" or "un-cool," which influences students to purposely do badly in school. Often, peer groups are jealous of those who excel because they feel inferior and therefore try to persuade students to believe excellence in school is "nerdish."

Students need to overcome peer pressure in school so they won't regret not having done so in the future. COREY V. GREEN Bishop McNamara

I do not completely agree that students are not working up to their potential in school. Many students I know do not think about being called "punks," "goody-goodies" or "nerds." this is the first school year I have not been called "teachers pet." There are times when I wonder what students think of me, but I will never let that stop me.

I admit that I do very well in many of my subjects, and I will continue because no one will ever stop me from becoming something my family can be proud of!

I have been called a nerd since I was in the first grade, but if I had the choice of being called a dummy or a nerd, I would pick nerd. MARLA BRUCE DuVal

Peer pressure is very common among teenagers. Peer pressure can have a number of effects; it depends on how strong-minded the teenager dealing with it is. Some people give in too easily to their peers, but others are strong enough to avoid it. I feel that all people have their own minds and they should be smart enough to make their own choices. CHARLENE KOERNER Tall Oaks

From my own experience, the opinions of classmates play a very important role in influencing student's attitudes toward school. When one is laughed at for doing something good, it is in no way a compliment. Students feel obligated to live up to other people's standards. Good grades aren't "cool."

I think, in a coeducational school, opinions are more important than in an all-girls/all-boys school because there is always someone trying to impress his peers and it is normally someone of the opposite sex.

I would rather be friends with someone who acts "real" all the time than with someone who puts on an act for certain people. BITSY JACOBS Pallotti

Nerd! That horrifying title that every student will go out of his or her way to avoid. Who wants to be categorized as a conceited, library-inhabiting boor whose clothes never match when their whole world seems to be centered on being accepted?

That hated category is what lazy students use to keep themselves from being embarrassed. When they begin to fear that they are being out-classed in the eyes of others, they classify that individual as a nerd. That student is no longer looked up to, but is outcast and looked down on.

This is a cruel game being played with the futures of our young people. Today's student can't seem to see past the present to the future. At the present, it seems easiest to succumb to the peer pressure all around them.

Students, wise up! Your friends are here now, but your future will be there forever! DEB LAUNT Central "We don't need no education We don't need no thought control"

While this viewpoint is jokingly espoused by many students, very few resent academics or academic achievers. The song by Pink Floyd announces students' anger at school, teachers, and those who do well; however, that is an outdated concept and is very rarely in effect these days.

While some students group themselves by grades or their own view of intelligence, most at least accept their friends' personal achievement. Good grades are, sadly, unimportant to most kids. Good friends, however, are very important, and this can have a downside as well. Some students will drag down a friend, but others (the majority) will support him. In most cases, grades are mentioned in passing only once, and then forgotten.

There is no severe impact on a student's performance. A.J. MACLENNAN Laurel

Peer pressure in my academic life has always been useful. I am a "C" student and don't study as often as I should. I have never been excited or spurred on to my full potential by school work alone. My peers getting high grades has made me want to work hard and accomplish a good grade, and a grade even higher than those usually doing better than myself.

My school seems to give me a sufficient amount of work. The teachers do their jobs well, but I realize that no matter how good the teachers are, the student is the one who gets the grade. It is the student who does (or doesn't) do the work. This is why I feel peer pressure has been good for my grades. The better the quality of work around me, the better my own becomes. My classmates have a good influence on me. DAWN CHISM Grace Brethren

It is hard being a teenager in a grown-up world. We become impatient for the adulthood and independence. No, adolescence is not easy, no one ever said that it was. Life in general is not easy. We look to our classmates for acceptance and they tell us that good grades are for nerds, or at least that is how we think they feel. No one wants to be a nerd. We all want to be a part of a group.

We look to our parents, teachers and other adults for guidance. They tell us to get better grades, to try harder. Have they forgotten how hard it is? Have they forgotten what it is like to be this age? Perhaps they have.

Far too often we decide to do what we think it will take for our classmates to accept us. We sacrifice good marks to be a part of the crowd and, at the same time, we sacrifice our individuality. SUSAN WAGNER Largo

I believe that the opinions of classmates only play an important part in the influencing of a student's attitude towards school if the student is weak-minded. Being studious has never been and will never be "cool."

A student who is considered cool usually is not an academically-oriented person. The cool student usually concentrates on his appearance, making sure his clothes and haircut are always "in." On weekends, whether at a club or party, you can be assured this student is always in "the place to be."

The studious student is not as concerned with appearance as he is with academic excellence. His clothes and hairstyle may be outdated. Weekends will usually find this student at home studying.

Some students have managed to obtain the best of both worlds. They will maintain impressive grades and at the same time be socially accepted.

Unfortunately, some often hide their good grades from peers. They are ashamed and afraid of being labeled nerds. Some even join in with underachievers in ridiculing nerds.

If a student wants to succeed in life, he must realize that he can't always depend on peers for support. Parents may be the only source of encouragement. My message to academic achievers is ignore those who try to bring you down. Your hard work will pay off in due time. EDWIN JOHNSON Crossland

I have learned that peer pressure does play a very influential role in a student's attitude toward school and good grades, but not in a negative way. Peer pressure is a driving, rather than retarding, force for students, at least the ones I know. In fact, I don't personally know of anyone who's happy with a failing grade, or proud of an "A" or a "B." I think that if there is a problem with students' grades, it's due to their laziness or carelessness rather than pressure from their peers.

These days, there is much too much emphasis placed upon peer pressure and not enough placed on the shoulders of the individual. I think peer pressure is a scapegoat for these people who are not performing up to par. MARTINA DRISCOLL Oxon Hill

Students might not reach their potential because of peer pressure. Students believe they need to behave like their peers to "fit in," which is, of course, important because they are in school for a large part of the year. Students are of the same age, and often consider the opinions of their peers to be more important even than those of their parents. Since acceptance by their classmates is important, their classmates' opinions can greatly influence their attitude towards school. GREG WELLER Queen Anne

Many a gifted student has fallen to the peer pressure of others who aren't as successful. The scene is a familiar one: a student has a good academic standing and an interest in school in the opening scene. A few frames later, he/she is being worn down by a circle of friends because of the scholastic success they have enjoyed. In the last and tragic scene, the student has a negative attitude toward learning, the grades drop and everyone is shocked. What happened between the first and last scenes is a syndrome of influential peer opinion that continues to rob society of successful citizens.

To the teenagers who wear down the academically inclined, I say "Back off!" Think about the future. What is having social standing in high school worth to you if you end up as a nothing in the real world? Those who know where they are going after graduation should at the very least have the respect they deserve as people, not just as "brains." Allow them to continue with their lives, free of childish scorn and jealousy for their impending success. Who knows? Perhaps one day the peer pressure will be turned on you to do well in school. KIM DILLON High Point

As much as Americans would like to believe that they are breaking away from stereotypes, students of all ages are often guilty of using such lables as "dizzy blonde," "dumb jock" and "nerd." This last can be particularly devastating to a person who longs for acceptance, and many students try to avoid being labled a "braniac" or a "bookworm" at all cost. Often this cost is the sacrifice of good grades and high test scores. A student who is academically inclined sometimes does not live up to his or her full potential and strives to be as average as possible.

The need for acceptance seems to be felt the stongest during adolescence, and it is of great importance to many students of this age to be just like everyone else. While students should feel proud of superior grades, they are often made to feel inferior by their peers. This can often have serious detrimental effects on the their performance.

Magnet schools seem to be a positive step towards alleviating this problem. In an environment where an academically-inclined student is surrounded by others like himself, he is more likely to strive for excellence than in an environment where he is put down because of his grades.

It is important for a students to remember that a person who ridicules the gifted students is often feeling inferior, and that such ridicule often stems from jealousy. KIRSTEN SCHIMPFF Eleanor Roosevelt Speak Out Topic for December 10:

Scientists have determined that AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact with a person carrying the AIDS virus, yet persons who have AIDS are often treated as outcasts. Under what terms would you be willing to accept a new classmate who had AIDS?

Responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. Political-style cartoons on the topic are welcome and should be drawn on posterboard. submissions should include the student's name, school and grade.

Responses should be sent to: Weekly High School Section The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071 Deadline for responses is: Monday, December 7.