What do you want from your education?

So you are in a graduate program.

  • Have you thought about why you are doing this?
  • What motivates you?
  • What do you hope to gain from completing this degree?

These are all things that you should know before you get too deeply involved in your graduate education. Am I trying to discourage you? Absolutely not! However, what I am trying to do is to get you to the point where you are motivated to overcome all of those hazards that you will encounter on this journey.

Here are some facts:

  • Only about 3% of the population has a doctoral degree.
  • Motivation is a big part of success.
  • This is probably the most difficult task you will face in your life. It will demand much of your time, your energy, including many economic and personal sacrifices.

Think about this analogy. Lots of young hawks never make it to adulthood because they fail to focus. What does that mean? It’s funny to watch young hawks trying to catch a bird out of a flock of birds. They dive into the cluster and come out the other side with nothing in their talons but air! How could they miss with all those birds?? That’s because they failed to pick that one bird and visualize it as dinner! Graduate students do the same thing sometimes when they fail to focus all of their time and energy on a particular motivation for completing their degrees. I’ve had students tell me that the reason they are in a doctoral program is that a friend wanted to do it, and they thought they would do it, too! What kind of motivation is that? Those students will most likely not complete their degrees and will only waste their time, effort, and money.

The people who are successful in life are those who have the ability to focus all of their energy on one particular aspect of a larger problem. That kind of concentration separates them from everyone else. An obvious example is professional athletes. I like to watch the Tour de France every year because of the intensity with which the riders approach each part of the race. I’ve watched riders fall over, sail over railings, and crash into dozens of other bicycles only to get up and find another bike to continue the ride despite cuts bruises and in some cases broken bones. That’s determination! Moreover, behind that determination is the motivation to win at all costs. It’s difficult to stop someone with that type of motivation, and that includes graduate students.

Now is the time to decide what motivates you. You will be amazed how much easier it is each day to commit that time researching, reading, and writing to complete your goal of having that graduate degree!