Students are to blame for much of our academic stress

Students are to blame for much of our academic stress

Shriya Bhindwale

The secret behind a hassle-free school is to mind our own business.

College applications — the only time when our entire futures as working – class citizens ride on a few sheets of paper. Every sports injury, every hour volunteering and every extra cup of coffee has been toward making another bullet point on the holy grail that is the perfect resumé.

stress pic
MVHS is notorious for the amount of pressure placed upon its students. However, students must realize that they are adding some, if not most, of the fuel to the burning flame we call stress. Photo by bottled_void, Flickr.

MVHS has a dense population of hard workers and smart thinkers, but it’s not as if half our school is in line to become the next Einstein. Teachers push us to our boundaries, and parents sometimes push us over the edge, but half of the stress that we feel is our own fault, especially when it comes to college applications.

Most students have a tendency to keep their academic and extracurricular activities to themselves, so details about projects outside of school such as internships or volunteer jobs are kept secret. This, however, ignites our imaginations into creating competition that was never actually present.

Most people agree that if they had a friend who was offered a rare opportunity for an internship or leadership position, some details would never be shared. Would the big picture be discussed? Yes. But specific details about what he or she was actually doing? Certainly not.

But keeping facts from peers only increases the pressure that those peers feel. Not sharing simple details of a particular activity outside of school leads us to believe the worst—that the lack of information comes from a person who is so bright, athletic and nearly prodigal that he or she feels uncomfortable sharing details of their extremely important work. More often than not, our imagination is simply exacerbating the competition.

By giving so much importance to the work and actions of others, we set ourselves up for failure. While it may be discomforting to think about all the students expecting admissions into distinguished universities, it would be healthier and more efficient to avoid thinking about other people and concentrate on our own futures instead.

Nobody is raising the students’ expectations more than the students themselves. We make things more difficult for ourselves by constantly scrutinizing the paths others choose to take. The stress that makes us feel like we’re holding the weight of the sky is the result of our own need to one-up our peers, as if that’s the only way to have a bright future. The “dog-eat-dog job market” philosophy shouldn’t force us into believing that being unnaturally competitive is the only way to succeed, no matter how badly we want to go to these top-notch colleges.

What most of us fail to recognize is that we are not the only ones who got a C on that one test or have no experience in sports; none of the students at MVHS are perfect, despite the common belief. By being dishonest about our flaws, we feed our own ego (and our insecurities) while demolishing those of others, making it harder and harder for us to believe that we are up-to-par with the rest of our fellow students.

The college application process is hard enough—add to that the pressure of filling the imaginary shoes all other MVHS students seem to wear, and school is bound to morph into a miserable experience. It’s important to remember that there is no such thing as the perfect resumé. After all the hard work that we put into our futures, we owe it to ourselves to simply mind our own business.