Learning is Best with a Sense of Purpose
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It can be a fun, and often entertaining,
question for a student in elementary school. But this conversation takes on
additional weight in high school and later when it’s time to choose a college
major and draft a first resume. And for good reason: parents and teachers
usually have strong opinions about certain professions and their status within
Yet, we know intrinsic satisfaction and interests far outweigh extrinsic approval for achieving long-term happiness with any future career. And deepening interests over time while developing a sense of purpose through these passions often begins in school and then continues into one’s career.
A study by Net Impact, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people make a difference through their careers, found that having a job with a positive social or environmental impact was rated as "very important” or “essential" for 72 percent of college students. Simply put, today’s students want to do more than make a living—they want to make a difference.
So as students forge their career paths, a good first
step is to identify clues about what really matters and then make a conscious
effort to do and be those things. And even with students as young as elementary
school, this journey starts with finding a deep interest and a voice, exploring
all of the possibilities for how to make a difference in the world through that
interest, and then honoring what is heard and discovered in one’s life work.
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