Preparing for Life

In twelve months’ time, my next four-to-six years will be set and laid out for me to simply follow. While for some this long-range plan may be a little disconcerting, I’m looking at it as my first official steps away from my childhood and into the life of an adult, no matter where I eventually find myself in twelve months, or where I wander between now and then.

Senior Thesis
I’ve just started reading articles in preparation with meeting with my potential advisor to discuss my senior thesis, a requirement for every Astronomy/Astrophysics major at MSU. After trying to decide what I wanted to study for the first couple months of the summer and the end of last semester, I finally settled on an area that I both enjoy and would continue studying in grad school if given the option: r-process nucleosynthesis in supernovae. This attracted me for a number of reasons, the top ones being that it’s not fully understood and that, as theoretical work, it relies highly on computer simulations and coding. Both interesting things to be a part of! Since I haven’t met with the professor yet, I can only hope that he’ll decide to be my advisor, otherwise I’m a little short on luck.

Bike and Build
After finding out about the Bike and Build charity a few years back, I’ve been really excited about applying (this coming October) and hopefully taking part in the program. Riding a bike across the U.S. and building homes for those less fortunate? Sign me up! If I am not accepted into the program, it won’t be like my summer will be meaningless, since I’ll be able to pack/prepare for the next stage of my life and also work at the MST@MSU summer camp again, which would be sweet anyway.

Graduate School
I’ve taken the GRE General Test (M:800, V:550, E:5), and the only standardized test I have left as an undergraduate is the GRE Physics Subject Test. I’ve signed up for the October test date (the first of the year), downloaded the provided pack, and will be picking up a book or two to help me prepare for the test. That score will end up meaning more for admissions to grad school than the general test, since I am going into a Physics-related field, after all. At this point, I have two months until the exam, which should be enough time to prepare so long as I start studying sometime within the next week. I’ve also tried to narrow down my list of school, mostly by collating my various lists into one, so that I can start to figure out where I may be living for the next part of my life.

Programming
Should the subject test (and the retake) go sour, or admissions staff think I’m not up to stuff at any school I apply to, I’ve already started looking at potential jobs that I could post-graduation with my degree. While getting ready for that, I’ve decided to fully flesh out my programming skill set in two areas. First, bring my UNIX/bash abilities close to where my Python skill is, and second, learn C/C++. I haven’t decided between those two languages yet, but I am leaning toward C++ since I feel like it would be slightly more useful. Of course, I have very little idea about which is actually used more in the field, although I’m guessing that it will vary greatly from one place to the next. Mostly this was spurred by a job offering that I will most likely either not be qualified for in any case, or the position will already be filled once I can apply, but in any case the added skills won’t hurt.

Relationships
I’ve decided that, since this last year is very important for the rest of my life, I’m not going to date or try to date anyone for the next year. I’d rather just simply have to worry about me and my own problems for the time being than mine and someone else’s, plus if I’m moving across the country in twelve months I’d want to be single anyway. In some cases, it may be tough, but I think it will turn out for the better for everyone by bringing the inevitable up to the present.

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