Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote that “the happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.”
Once you have completed your undergraduate program, you can master your own passions by going to graduate school. College gave you the opportunity to try out different fields of study and identify what you feel compelled to focus on in your career. Graduate school affords you the chance to fully engage yourself in the field of study you enjoy most, and to enter the workplace at a higher level.
The first thing you must determine is whether graduate school is the next logical step in following your passion. If you plan to be a doctor, psychologist or lawyer, graduate school is a necessity. It is also well-known that a graduate degree can lead you to a higher-paying job. When you make the transition from an undergraduate program to a graduate program, you shift roles from being a consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge. While you may have been fed information as an undergrad, as a grad student you may get the opportunity to work or teach as an assistant in the field you are passionate about.
Those who enter graduate school can be passionate about a specific field of study or by learning in general. Students who are passionate about what they study in graduate school view extending their education as a means to an end besides just learning; they see enhanced self-worth, a better career or a chance to make a difference in the world. Graduate students are invested enough in their field of study to deal with the obstacles that grad school presents, such as balancing time, lots of reading and extensive research.
When students are passionate enough to attend graduate school, they are not deterred by a limited job market, and they are satisfied by the smaller successes that come over time with graduate study, even though their passion may be tested at times by the overwhelming elements of graduate school.
In graduate school, you must be motivated to deal with less structure. It’s not a simple lecture forum – you are fully involved in the learning process, and even create some of the learning on your own. Additionally, graduate students take more risks and make more sacrifices than undergraduate students, but that’s what we do when we are passionate.
Graduate school programs enable students to apply what they learned as undergrads and study with others who share their passion. They work closely with their classmates and professors in a concentrated study to cultivate specialized knowledge. It is more important than it was in undergraduate school for students to show up to class every day.
Following your passion to a graduate program gives you the chance to contribute to your field. With some determination, drive and talent, you can continue on the path of self-discovery and let your passion lead you to success. Graduate students exhibit motivation and persistence, and by following their passion, they make an investment in themselves, which can benefit the entire country, and perhaps even the world.
No matter where your passion lies, it is imperative to discover and nurture that sense of purpose. We are all meant to do something and be someone, and it is great if it is related to what we’re studying. If you want to immerse yourself in the study of a particular academic discipline purely for the love of it, you may not forgive yourself if you do not at least give it a try.