Unlearning pressures at MVHS

Exploring how students ease academic strain

Nameek Chowdhury

Believing that he and others are enclosed in a bubble where everyone obsesses over grades, senior Nilay Kundu describes the experience as a student in Cupertino to be one of academic priority. Through their years as students, Kundu and other upperclassmen have found ways to manage the stresses associated with the competitive culture through participating in hobbies and differing goals. 

Junior Shreya Akshintala attributes the pressure she feels at MVHS to a lofty college acceptance end-goal and a stress to focus on STEM. She says this competitive culture at the school comes from how students perceive themselves. 

“A lot of times the pressures motivate the actions of students and their friendships,” Akshintala said. “People have a perceived superiority when they have certain grades and they have self doubt when they don’t and sometimes it takes over a person’s self perception and self esteem.”

To limit the impact of academic stress, Kundu says he exercises daily to  take his mind off of school. He also has changed the way he prioritizes his schedule to destress. 

“In the last few months, I’ve been making this self promise to go out every weekend and put my personal life ahead of my academic life,” Kundu said. “Instead of the other way around, like it usually was.”

Akshintala finds it difficult to take breaks during a school week due to her workload; however, she does take small pauses to text friends and family or do the Wordle. Additionally, she believes hobbies are worthwhile breaks. 

“Karate and martial arts give me a break because you’re physically able to blow off steam, but at the same time, they’re things I’m passionate about,” Akshintala said. “Similar to academics, rather than the tangible success of it, it’s about improving myself and having fun.”’

Junior Rahul Punji expresses that he is excited to see MVHS from a new perspective as a senior in a few months, and not be as worried about  grades. In retrospect, he does regret some aspects of how he spent his earlier years in high school. 

“I feel I could have been more social while focusing on academics,” Punji said. “I felt like once I was in class, I [was] introverted because I just had this focus on doing well.”

Overall, Akshintala believes that her perceptions of academic success have changed from the grade-based expectations that are expressed at MVHS.

“I heard from a teacher, that it’s not that you get happiness from success, it’s that you get success from happiness,” Akshintala said. “A lot of people just want to get into college and get a job immediately, but you’re not going to be successful and you’re going to get burnt out in the long term if you’re not passionate and motivated to do what you want to do. You need intrinsic motivation. External motivation only goes so far.”