The Thing About Goals…

For those of you living under rocks, I have been offered (and accepted) a place at Birkbeck – University of London for the 2016/2017 year.  I’ll be working towards a Master’s in Film, Television and Screen Media.  As I’ve been researching and writing essays for scholarships, it’s really taken some introspection on my part.

As it turns out, all of my scholarship essays read exactly like my blog posts!  Goodness, I’ve missed writing.  >_>

Here’s one particular essay that I really enjoyed writing.

Describe your educational career and life goals.  Explain your plan for achieving these goals.  Include your degree/major, why you selected it, and how this degree/major will help you achieve your goals.

I have been chasing passion for ten years.  At 17, I was asked to make a decision regarding what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Lacking inspiration, I took to those surrounding me.  In my father, I saw unbridled love of his daily work; a passion that bled through the displeasure of infuriating co-workers and busy days.

Advertising looked great.

I have been chasing passion for six years.  At 21, facing my final semester of college and on track to graduate early, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  My internship intrigued me, but I couldn’t envision working with social media long-term.  My mother approached me about spending a semester abroad, taking some time to examine my cultural roots.

Israel provided the opportunity to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time and take classes entirely unrelated to advertising.

I have been chasing passion for five years.  At 22, having returned from Jerusalem cemented in the fact that I did not want to go into advertising, I faced impending graduation.  My closest friends expounded at length on the quality of my travel blog in which I detailed my excursions and reiterated lessons-learned throughout the semester abroad.  Thriving on the feedback, when one joined the Teach for America – Miami Corps, I followed suit.

Teaching underprivileged 11th graders in Miami was a way to occupy my time while I continued looking for that perfect dream job.

I have been chasing passion for two years.  At 24, teaching contract fulfilled, I returned home to figure out next steps.  Convinced that if I stumbled my way into a corporate job and was making a steady salary, I’d find happiness, I dove head-first into aptitude testing and corporate training.


It took me ten years to realize that I had discovered and pushed to the side the very passion I was seeking.


At 16, I began working part time at a movie theater.  Two years, I cleaned and sold tickets, directed customers and threaded projectors.  730 days after I walked into that theater for the first time, I sold my last ticket and moved away for college.  

At 19, I realized that other students didn’t budget for frequent trips to the movie theater like I did, didn’t schedule their semester around Thursday’s late-night movie premieres.

At 21, I was traveling throughout Israel with the knowledge that the Haifa International Film Festival was open to the general public.  I convinced my group of friends to make the journey north so that I could attend.  While they opted out, I sat through two screenings, one of which included the director and producer who treated the audience with a Q & A afterwards.

At 23, I had been teaching Intensive Reading Retake to 11th graders who had failed their state exam.  The morale in my classroom was low, as these students were literally shoved into my classroom having been labeled failures.  The school lacked electives.  In my second year, I pitched the idea of an Introduction to Film Studies course that would allow students who did eventually pass the state exam to have something to look forward to.  Permission granted, I developed a year-long course for 10th and 11th graders. I conducted months of research building the class, delving into the depths of angles and shots, how music and lighting affect mood, and then took this information and imparted it on young minds who entered my class with no idea that there was more to a movie than dialogue.

At 25, I was unhappy in my career.  While the salary offered more than I had been making previously, the hours were wonderful, and the benefits choice, my day-to-day schedule as a test administrator was tedious in the extreme.  Instead, I lived for my part-time evening job hosting pop-culture trivia nights at a local movie theater.

Today, I can envision a future surrounded by something I love.  Film, and all that entails, inspires me and drives my day-to-day.  I’ve been asked repeatedly what I’m going to do if I return to school and after giving it considerable thought, I still don’t have an answer.  Not because I don’t know what I want to do, but because, for the first time, I feel like the possibilities are endless and I don’t want to limit myself.  With a degree in film, I could go into film festival programming.  I could wander into entertainment journalism or film critiquing.  I could get back into teaching, but at a collegiate level.  

The ability to view and critique film for its cinematic and artistic merits is something I aspire to.  Beyond that, I crave a well-educated and emotionally-invested group to converse with; a collection of people who share in my enthusiasm and passion for film to help steer me down the path towards my educational and professional goals.  The opportunity that a degree provides will finally enable me to become a certified specialist rather than simply an enthusiast.

At 26, I applied to the Birkbeck University of London for their Film, Television, and Screen Media (MA) program.  When offered a spot, I leapt at the opportunity and accepted immediately.

Author: alisonlcohn

Graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Communications Advertising. Traveled a bit. Taught for two years. Administered aptitude tests for a while. Worked as a Training Associate for Guardian Mortgage and a Quiz Master for Geeks Who Drink. Obtained my Master's in Film, Television and Screen Media in London, England. Now working as a small-group travel coordinator. Nice to meet you!

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