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Old 2018-06-15, 18:24   #23
CRGreathouse's Avatar
Aug 2006

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Originally Posted by jvang View Post
Were you like a tenured professor doing your own research or something?
My career plan had always been to study math in college to at least get a degree (because I was good at math and enjoyed it), but then work as a programmer (because I knew how to program, the pay looked good, and I didn't want to teach). When I graduated I decided that I was interested enough in math to stay active in the field as a hobby. The advantage is I get to do whatever I want, I don't have to teach, I don't have to write grants, and my schedule is infinitely flexible. The downside is that it's harder to force yourself to sit down and really learn technically challenging fields -- it's easier to coast along with the skills I already had.

Originally Posted by jvang View Post
Would a gap year program or something similar be in my interests?
The goal for a gap year is for it to be as non-detrimental as possible for your academics. If everything lines up perfectly it won't hurt you. I'm not recommending against it, mind you -- if there's something you want to do, do it, but don't do it with the idea that you will be better off for it academically. (Depending on what you do it might make you a better person or a better job prospect etc.)

Of course sometimes having a gap year isn't a choice -- you miss deadlines or get rejected. It's definitely not the end of the world, you have plenty of time to make the next cycle, whether you decide to enter next semester (sometimes possible to transfer in if you have community college credit) or next year.

Originally Posted by jvang View Post
I also have basically 0 extracurricular activities, so spending a couple months volunteering somewhere would look good on my resume or something. I'm guessing that, by delaying my schooling for a year, I'll have a better shot at better financial aid at better colleges. Any thoughts?
If the extra year lets you retake classes you failed and you can get good grades this time around that would, I think, be very meaningful and relevant to admissions, certainly more than extracurriculars. ("Sure, I failed English, Economics, and Geography in my senior year, but I had xyz going on. I took a gap year where I did abc and also took those three classes at my local community college, getting an A, a B, and an A+. So you can see that not only can I handle the subjects but I have dedication and...")

But yeah, extracurriculars will give you an extra few percent. The priority needs to be on doing well in the make-up classes -- really well, if you want to go to one of the "better colleges" -- but if you can do that, have time left over, and find an extracurricular that interests you, do it. (Definitely don't do it unless you are genuinely interested, it's not worth it.)
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