My ambition is to become a professor of Literature, and I intend on pursuing admission to some form of graduate school for Fall 2019.
As I get closer to really starting the application process in earnest, I'm kind of overwhelmed by uncertainty about the whole thing. The big question on my mind is whether or not my grades are even close to being good enough. My overall GPA is about 3.35. In the major (English), I'm at a 3.66. I have confidence in my ability to do graduate level work, and my advisor and professor has insisted that I'm a good candidate for graduate study, but I'm worried that my grades don't reflect that, particularly when reading anecdotes on here about people with 3.9 GPAs getting turned down by multiple schools...
So I feel really disoriented going into this. What schools should I even consider? Especially with the cost of the application process, is applying to the more prestigious programs I really connect with (i.e. Duke) just a waste of time and money for me at this stage? Even the less-prestigious Ph.D programs may be too much to ask for me. Maybe I should focus solely on getting into a non-flagship state school's MA program... but I don't want to sell myself short (if I actually do have a chance at getting into a Ph.D) and I really want to work with professors who excite me! All this with the sheer number of schools, programs, each with different standards and expectations, and a lot of financial question marks, is very overwhelming. I have an excel spreadsheet of programs of interest but it just gets longer and less coherent.
My main question is: does anyone know what steps I could take to cut down on some of this uncertainty and start to formulate a concrete strategy going forward?