Freshmen ChemBE’s in the mentorship program always ask “So when does it get better?” As an underclassman, I always got mixed responses. Some would say “after Transport I”, others would say “after sophomore year.” I’ve come to my own conclusion now as an upperclassman. I don’t think it really does. That is not to say that this program is grueling every semester through, but every semester presents with a new and challenging courses and there has never been an “easy semester.” This semester is no exception. I am currently enrolled in Abstract Algebra II, Kinetic Process, Separation Process, Applications of Molecular Evolution to Biotechnology, and The Culture of the Engineering Profession. Up to last week I was enrolled in Spectroscopy, a really fascinating upper level chemistry course about how light interacts with matter. I self taught myself quantum mechanics and everything, but even then I was the only undergraduate in the course. I found myself struggling immensely with work this semester, so six weeks in I dropped Spectroscopy. It was probably the hardest thing I have done so far academically, as I have never dropped a class before.
My time at Hopkins is quickly coming to the end, and I have to say I am a bit sad I don’t have many exciting things to blog about. This semester has probably been my toughest yet. Today was my first and only midterm for Algebra, and I spent all weekend non-stop studying for it. Now I am sitting at Café Q, only moments after finishing the test. I feel a little woozy, but I am happy it’s over.
Oh little Wilbur, it's a big scary world out there!
This test was really important for me. Earlier this semester I applied for five REU programs. If you are not familiar with what a REU is; it is a NSF funded summer research program for undergraduates, which take place at various colleges across the nation. I applied to five, which I thought was a pretty zealous number (considering I only applied to two colleges), but it turns out that most people apply to ten or more! Why? Because they are ultra competitive. Hundreds of students apply for one of ten spots in a program, so the deny rate far exceeds the admit. The process is very similar to that of applying to a university. You submit an application, with your resume, transcript, two letters of rec from mathematics professors, as well as a few essays on why you love math, and your future goals. So far I have been denied from one program, and (hopelessly) waitlisted for another. So now I am sitting here, mid-March, having no idea what I am doing for the summer after my junior year. Naturally I am fretting over graduate school applications. A REU is a huge bonus on your application. I put my heart and soul into those essays, and sadly I am starting to lose hope. Now for the first time in years, I feel more connected to the college application process than ever. I am terrified of the thought of having no idea what is going on for the summer, and I am obsessively checking my email for any news from programs. That feeling of rejection is discouraging from my future plans. I guess I am in search for some validation.
Being a double major, has been nothing but exhaustive. There are moments this year that I have truly regretted it, since it has caused me to stretch myself so thing I am starting to rip at the seams. I think what brought me to Hopkins was my passion. Passion is something I have no shortage of. But sometimes, especially now, I am thinking passion isn’t enough.
When people ask me about abstract mathematics, I always stress the fact that it isn’t really about numbers anymore. It’s about structure, and patterns, and logical relationships. Now, the one thing that may be keeping me from my dreams in mathematics are the numbers; the GPA, the number of courses, the admit rate, the math GRE score. Suddenly number matter more than anything else, and I wish it wasn’t a numbers game anymore.
Spring break is next week, and I am eagerly awaiting my trip to NYC with JHU_Greco. We booked this super hipster hotel with bunk beds. It will be like freshmen year all over again!