Finding Your Passion: Deciding What To Study In Graduate School
Making the decision to go to graduate school is a tough decision. It's years of study, tons of debt, and you aren't always sure what the point of all of it is. Today I am going to share with y'all my reason behind why I chose to study Sociology in graduate school, how to figure out what you want to study, and sticking to that.
I think that for me personally, I always planned to continue my education after college, for me my journey was more about what I would major in during graduate school, sticking with that, and applying.
Why I Chose Sociology
Since I majored in Sociology in college, I think a lot of people might assume that I always planned to study it in graduate school as well. That wasn't really the case for me though. In fact, until my last semester of college, I thought I wanted to continue my education by getting a Masters in College Student Personnel Administration. I loved the higher education environment and the way things worked together. I really wanted to focus on retention rates in college or disability services because those were two places I had become really passionate about being a student and an ambassador for my college. Then something changed.
My last semester of college I got a job working in the Sociology department at my school. I'd always loved all of my professors, but there was something about actually working in the office. After working with the office and seeing the camaraderie between my professors and how they worked together, it really made me think. I also just loved the environment, the talks about sociological issues that I would often hear in the office, and just the thought of having a group of colleagues to do research with and grow with seemed awesome.
I had this passion to continue learning about sociology because my professors made me want what they had as a group. I am not 100% sure if I want to teach for a living or do something else with my sociology degree, but it's really awesome to think that in the future I might have that sort of relationship with a group of amazing intellectuals.
Figuring Out What sets your soul on fire
Graduate school is hard. If you are not in it to win it, you may feel the need to go a different direction when the going gets tough. You have to be in constant pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. I feel like you have to be that way in college as well, but in graduate school, I really feel like the need to love your subject is even more intense. Graduate school is not cheap, it is not easy, and it is not always rainbows and butterflies. In this post, I talked about the 5 things I feel like you should know before you go to graduate school. One of the things that I talked about in that article specifically was the fact that it won't be easy. This means that it is so very important that you love what you go to graduate school for. I recently shared this article exclusively on LinkedIn all about finding your focus in graduate school, and I feel like this advice can be extended to when you are just looking for your major. Here are some more extended tips:
You Don't Have to major in the same thing
A lot of people get stuck with this thinking that they have to major in exactly what they majored in during college. It's simply not true. So many majors accept a wide range of people into their graduate programs. This does come with a bit of work though. Most of the time graduate programs have a particular test you have to take and/or a few classes that you need as a prerequisite to get into the program.
My program at Arkansas State, for example, required us to have a B or better in Introduction to Sociology, Social Statistics, Methods of Social Research, and Social Theory. As a Sociology major in college, I had already taken and passed these courses. As a person who hasn't majored in Sociology though, you would have to take all these courses and pass them with a B as one of the Admissions requirements.
Having to take a few basic courses shouldn't stop you from applying for a program that is different from your undergraduate degree though. If you are passionate about it and wish to study it in graduate school, make it work. Take the courses. Take the tests you need. Do what you gotta do and slay.
If It's Not Broke, Don't Fix It
While you don't have to major in the same thing as you did during your undergraduate career, I also have to say: if it's not broke, don't fix it. Sometimes you absolutely have to major in something different for instance because you want to be an Occupational Therapist, but there is no undergraduate major for that so you take on a Chemistry major instead. Cool beans, yo! But if you are like me and you love Sociology or insert major here, it's perfectly okay to continue learning about Sociology or your major of choice in graduate school.
As I mentioned above there are definite pluses to sticking with something. You will be more prepared to enter that field because you have a wealth of knowledge from your undergraduate degree. That will set you up for great success in graduate school. It won't be the only key to success, but it will be one of them that helps you grow in graduate school because you have a good foundation of knowledge.
Be Open to change
Applying to graduate school is a big deal, I think the most important thing is to be open to change. You may change your mind last minute about what you want to study for the rest of your life. Graduate school is a big decision. One day you might be gung-ho about occupational therapy and the next day decide that psychology is more your thing. You don't have to have it all figured out, explore those avenues. Research all the different options you have. Talk with people you know in those fields. Get an understanding of all of your options.
Don't be held back by change though
I think that one of the biggest things with change is that you can't let all the change you might be going through hold you back. Yes, you may not know where you are going, but don't let that stop you from moving forward. Don't let that fear of not knowing exactly what you want to do at 20, 21, or 22 stop you from making a move. Apply for graduate programs, write those essays, take those tests. You can't be neutral on a moving train. In my opinion, the easiest way to get done is to start. The first few steps of preparing for graduate school are going to be so difficult, but just keep going, just keep moving forward.
Start early, get organized, and get into a program that you love. It's totally okay to apply to multiple different places and possible even for different things so through change keep your mind open and do something about it.
Monitor what sets your soul on fire
As you are going through your college classes begin to monitor what makes you happy, what grinds your gears, and what makes you want to change the world. Is there an article that you read that made you have all of the thoughts? A conversation with a professor that sparked your interest? Think about all of those things and record them. I feel like with time you will begin to see where your heart lies and where you need to go to find your graduate school destiny.
Forget The Haters
Happiness in your career and school choices is so much more important than money that can be made or anything in the world. If you feel happy and confident in your choice to go to graduate school then, by all means, do it, girl! You don't have to prove the worth of your degree to anyone and you can do anything you set your mind to. Do you want a Masters in Business? Slay girl! Do you want a Masters in Art? Work girl! You can rock anything you set your mind to because you are awesome!
I hope these tips help you find where you would like to be in the graduate school world. Finding your passion and pursuing that in graduate school is so important.