Why Desire Still Matters: Loving What You're Learning and Learning What You Love

In a recent New York Times opinion piece written by a veteran educator, the author touched upon a metaphor in Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Hungry Heart,” that also describes an intangible among great learners. The article’s theme echoes what many teachers have come to understand in their classrooms; that the best students aren't necessarily those who excel at high-stakes testing or those who offer the valedictory at graduation; they're the students who come to class for the right reasons.

Students who are coming back to school after time away often have passion and drive which can go a long way toward fueling academic success. The passion that may connect them with an occupation can be augmented, not interrupted, by changes in education fostered by new technologies and their resulting applications for learning. These relatively new changes in schooling are bridging gaps for many whose desire was once exceeded only by access.

Why it Matters

  • Education is not one-size-fits-all. As a student, you have your own style of learning. You also have certain subjects that you enjoy more than others.
  • An enjoyable education may lead to an enjoyable career.If you can identify your passion and tailor your educational pursuits accordingly, you may be more likely to enter a fulfilling career after you graduate.
  • Choosing the wrong path is counter-productive. Studying a subject that you don't enjoy will likely be counterproductive.
  • You could learn more if you enjoy your field. If you're passionate about your subject matter, you could pay more attention to your course material, perform better on assignments and exams and retain more knowledge after the program is over.

Choosing the Right Path

  • Consider your career goals. Before you enroll in any campus-based or online university program, think about your ultimate educational goals. Choose a program that complements your interests and could lead to an interesting career.
  • Don't rely solely on aptitude. Though it's important to be good at what you do, it's equally as important that you enjoy it. Don't choose a path based only on your past performance on related tasks.
  • Weigh your options carefully. Identify your interests and passions as early in your educational career as possible. Before enrolling in higher education, compare the advantages and disadvantages of each program you're considering, and take some time to evaluate the outcome of each one.

No single educational path is right for everyone. For example, some students enjoy hands-on projects that involve creativity and autonomy, while others prefer critical thinking and scientific reasoning. Likewise, while some students learn best in the traditional classroom, others benefit more from the more flexible structure of an online university. By identifying your own passions, instructional preferences and career goals, you can choose the program that is best for you.