First of all if you are reading this part Congratulations!! you are a graduate student! One step closer to achieve a major accomplishment in your career or life. There's a lot of pressure that comes with that title, everyone will expect you to be the best on what you do, and everyone is actually looking up to you, even if you don't see it. But let's be honest, be perfect sometimes it is not the case, some of us do have a design background like illustration, animation, and the very common graphic design, which make us one step closer to perfection! Others have a background other than design, (engineering, accounting, psychology etc,) which makes the student to feel overwhelmed or afraid, because they don't have any design training before hand, but the fact they have been accepted into an art school, means that there is a lot of potential for that student to be as successful as one with an artistic background.
As I mentioned before, we all have different backgrounds and different skill set levels, but one true passion for design. Some are like a ninja assassin when it comes to graphics, kills everything they touch (in a good way ), but the majority of us are learning how to be a ninja. take advantage to the software provided by your school, absorb as much information as possible, some classes might seem boring and unnecessary but I can guarantee you that you will learn something from every class, either the actual lesson plans to patience, how to work with other people's personalities.
Even if you think you are not motivated enough or just "don't have a passion" let me tell you that yes you do, just have to stop overthinking and start feeling. In my case I started "feeling" when I was almost at the end of my graduate program, and I wish I could started to feel more earlier, but better late than never right?
One mistake that most people make it is to believe that you MUST know how to draw to be a motion designer, and that is the biggest lie you could ever hear. Yes, frame by frame animations are super common in the industry but that it is not the only technique available, there is cinematography, photography, analog and physical processes, 3D, tactile, stop motion or a combination of them.
If you are going for the M.F.A you are required to write a thesis........ ( creepy music ) but writing a thesis shouldn't be scary. It does takes a consistency to write one and finish one by the time you graduate or at least that is the goal. By the time you reach Thesis class you should have an idea what your thesis topic would be, but after finishing the thesis classes, you might feel uncommitted, unmotivated, not knowing what to type, you have probably been staring at blinking cursor of the empty page document for a while now and don't what else to type, take a break go for a coffee, a walk, a movie anything that takes your mind of the pressure but create the habit of writing two pages an edit one page daily, that way you will write
You will hear this more than one time by different people during your graduate studies " Undergraduates are always better than graduates". It may be accurate to say that undergraduates spent about 4 to 5 years of their lives working on projects, learning new things, becoming competitive mostly when they are in a environment that supports it. They weren't always like that, they just kept trying. they doubt themselves, a lot. They compare themselves almost every day, but they knew that persistence is the key.
Instead of hating on them, use their amazing work as inspiration, don't dwell on the fact that they are better than you and you will never be like them. If you work hard, exercise every day challenge yourself to be better for you not for others, you will as good if not better than they are.
Leave the word graduate student, for loan applications and your LinkedIn account, when you are in school you are nothing more than another student wanting to become successful after graduation, you are someone valuable with a lot of questions.
With yourself. be honest about your limitations and come up with a plan to address them. If you are not into hand draw animations or illustration but want to get on board, join a club, or take a class that teaches your the techniques you need. if you have all your electives planned out for the next year and half, well there is something, that is free and accessible to everyone, and that thing is call YouTube, there, you can find tons of tutorials that you can watch or follow. If you are still questioning yourself and think YouTube is only for beauty bloggers, there are other websites out there dedicated to teach you every resource available so you can be the best motion designer. EVER!.