3 Big Goals For My Last August (And School Year)

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Empty ballast baskets

Mike’s looking for different baskets to put his eggs in, and hoping that they (and him) don’t crack.

For the past 15 years or so, August has been the strangest month in the year for me. I’ve always thought of it as a precipice month, a time to get ready to dive off the cliff of summer and into the unknown of a new school year.

But this coming August feels different, and I think it’s because it’s technically my last as a student.


With August just a couple days away, my last end-of-summer days and my last first day of school are sprinting toward me. I’m expecting our meeting to be bittersweet.

I plan to use this month to do what I always have done: set goals for the upcoming school year (semester). Maybe that’s out of routine, or maybe out of nostalgia. I’m guessing the former, because I’m finding out very quickly that plans look very different for a graduating senior.

Here are the three biggies I’m looking to tackle.

Goal #1: Survive Standardized Testing

I’m not always pleasantly reminiscent. In fact, I’m actually content when certain things disappear from my life, presumably never to return. One of those things happened to be the good, old SATs, which I thought I divorced in 2010.

But, surprise surprise! If you’re thinking about graduate school, the SATs reincarnate themselves as the GREs. They have all the impossible vocabulary, worthless math problems, and shallow essays you could ever want from a single exam.

Goal #1, as much as I dislike it, is to absolutely destroy this test. I’ve been studying since summer began and plan to take it for the first (and hopefully last) time at the end of this month.

But wait, there’s more! Because I’m applying to English Ph.D. programs, I also have to take the extra special subject test, Literature in English, in October. That will also require serious study time. How much? Try and estimate the amount of literature written between the 9th century and now—that should give you an idea.

Goal #2: Have A “Do-It-All” Semester

As of right now, I’m registered for five classes, four of which will complete an entire minor—provided I write a special topic paper (20 pages) for one of them. These classes also happen to be very career-based (Entrepreneurial Marketing and Graphic Design, to name a couple). That’s not unintentional. I want to hit the job market fresh with all of the skills employers love at the top of my résumé.

And to further support that effort, I’m planning on doing an internship this fall.

And applying to full-time jobs in a few months.

And finishing grad school applications.

And going to the gym 4 days a week, seeing my friends, enjoying my 21-ness, etc.

Basically, I’m planning on making downtime my enemy. To do that, of course, requires a lot of prep work. I’m going to use August to hopefully secure that internship, get a head start on my grad school applications, and start some of my class work. Yes, I already have class work before the start of the semester.

Goal #3: Figure My Life Out

By now, I’ve probably confused you with my post-graduation plans. Is he going to grad school? Is he going to get a job?

Truth is, I’m just as confused as you are. There’s a giant fork in my life road. One way leads to a marketing career; the other leads to an English Ph.D. and hopeful professorship. I can’t decide which one to go down, so I’m keeping both options open.

Unfortunately, that’s not a passive process. I still have to apply to jobs and graduate school to figure out where I actually can go. Maybe I’ll get rejected from every single program I apply to (which is actually likely, given the acceptance rates for top arts Ph.D. programs). Maybe I’ll find a job and love it.

For now, I’m planning on the maximalist route. If I throw every single egg I have in the air, then hopefully at least one of them doesn’t crack.

Grad school or get a job? Mike needs helps deciding. Which did you choose, and why?

(Photo: Wikimedia)

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