Passion: What is it?
What is passion? There are several definitions when we look it up at dictionary.com, but the one that is applicable here is: "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: such as a passion for music".
Why do we care?
Passion is a very powerful thing. It can help students be self-directed, motivated, and focused. Having these "ingredients" will help your student have a successful high school experience. This is because the student can seek out opportunities that will further enhance their education without you "pestering them".
So, how, as parents, can we help our student find their passion?
There are many ways that have suggested... I'm not sure if there is a wrong way, but key elements seem to revolve around these ideas:
- Have the discussion with your teen. Find out what they like and what they don't. You need to find out why as well. Vague answers will not help, so encourage your teen to be specific. And it is ok, if the answer comes out "I don't know".
- If the answer is "I don't know", then it is time to explore. The easiest way to do this is for the teen to check out school opportunities via clubs, athletics, music, and theater arts. Encourage them to find out more about them and try it out. Only then, can they answer the question about what they like or not honestly. Check out our opportunities page for details. In the ideal situation, you'll want your teen to identify a passion by Junior year so that you can help with identifying what colleges make sense.
- It is also important that students do their best in their classes. Whether they are college bound or not, developing good study habits tends to translate into good work habits, and having good habits is a "sellable" attribute to employers as well as college admissions officers.
- If there is a specific answer, then encourage the teen to seek out opportunities so that they can get more data about that passion to ensure that it is their passion. Talk to teachers, counselors, friends, etc. For example, my daughter is interested in biological research, I would want to make sure that she has experienced what's it like to be in college, visit a working research laboratory and talk to researchers to see what's it like to be a researcher, and try to see if there are summer intern opportunities for HS students.
The internet is a vast resource for this, but you'll need to consider the source and determine what advice really applies. There are some very good advice, but there are some that are somewhat dubious. Here's a few that I've checked out that seems reasonable, but add in your own situation to see if they're applicable.
- Sparks: How Parents Can Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers by Peter L. Benson (book)
- Mining For Gold: Helping Your Children Discover Their Passion by Jan DeLisle (article)
- 4 Practical Ways To Find Your Life's Passion And A Career You Love by Deena Varshaskay (article)
- PREMIUM feature: Talk to someone... talk to MHS PTSA President for ideas.
- Talk to someone... talk to your Counselor for ideas.
- Talk to someone... visit the Career and College Center.