This will be my last blog post as my gap year winds to a close.
The last couple of months have been a blast! I visited Olin during Candidates' Weekend two! It was a great chance to meet some of people who will make up the class of 2019. (And, of course, advise them to take a gap year :P )
Here's a #selfie of me with my host, Keenan, at the Design Challenge
While I was at Olin, I met a candidate, Isaac, (now a member of the class of 2019!) who was helping to organize the FRC Ventura regional. He and his mother were looking for someone to help with match commentary. One thing led to another and a couple of weeks later I found myself flying out to sunny Ventura, California to help out at that regional.
With Candidates' Weekends long behind us and May 1st around the corner, the Olin admission office is once again shifting gears. I have to say, this January was one of the busiest times of my life. February was one of the most exhausting. But while March was full of difficult emotional decisions, April in admissions has a different character entirely. Decision letters were mailed out before the month began, and since then, emails and phone calls have been pouring in. It seems a big part of the job these days is to reassure admitted students and their families that the things they've learned about Olin are, in fact, true. We're hearing back from students in concrete ways as well! We've seen deposits, defers, and declines. It's thrilling to be able to go to our list and highlight each new enrollee as they declare! For some, this part was a no-brainer. For others, April has been a month of weighing benefits, splitting hairs, and agonizing over opportunities. We've extended the opportunity to some admitted students, who needed a second look, to come for an overnight 'admitted student visit'. They stayed in the dorms, sat in on classes, and met/discussed with a wide range of Oliners in order to help make their decision.
It's coming up on the time to "fish or cut bait," as our Dean of Student Affairs sometimes says. May 1st is the decision deadline, and we're keeping a close eye on the numbers so that we can enroll an 84-student class precisely. The Office of Student Affairs would have other words for us if we sent them too many students and fill the dorms, or too few to fulfill their our responsibility to the community. So we need to be judicious yet decisive when taking students off the wait list. It's an artful act of threading the needle, and I'm glad we can count on Charlie to do it. We're all very much looking forward to meeting the class of 2019!
But besides answering questions, hosting visitors, and waiting, what have we been doing this past month?
It's my last blog post as a gappie--how weird is that? Life's been pretty smooth since my last blog, and some really cool stuff has happened. First (and most definitely foremost) I visited Campus for Candidate's Weekend #3 at the beginning of March! Got to see some old friends, and meet tons of new ones, and completely reaffirmed my belief that Olin is the coolest 75 acre strip of land in existence.
Olin - visited for CW3
My family is also in the middle of moving into a new house.... 3 blocks away from where we currently live. I would say pointless, but for the fact that our new house is beautiful, whereas the thing we live in now is a giant drafty rental. The only problem is that the entire basement needs to be renovated, so that's what I've been doing for the past week and a half; in addition to gradually moving everything I own three blocks down the street, 3 boxes at a time (that's all that will fit into my dinky little car).
New house - so pretty!
Work, my business, and classes have all been going extremely well, although I'm convinced that triple integrals in polar form are going to be the death of me. My business is still growing, and I just finished a custom stone cutting and setting job for a customer in Italy! I've also been asked by several people to teach a beginning wire wrapping workshop, so I'm working on writing a class curriculum so that I can put that together and get some more people interested in the art. There's some bittersweet news-- the jewelry store that I work at is closing in early May. Bitter because I'll be sad to see such a wonderful place go, and sweet because I'll be able to buy a bunch of great tools for exorbitantly low prices, and because I'll be out of a job just in time for me to have a summer off before I head to college!
Custom Ammolite Ring for a customer in the Springs.
Hi, I'm Jacob Stern! I've chosen to spend two gap years as a missionary.
What is a missionary?
Well, if you've ever seen a pair of guys in white shirts and ties on bikes, chances are it's us. If they start talking with a stranger about a blue book called The Book of Mormon, it's a pretty good guarantee they're a missionary. That's me on the far left.
Why did I go on a mission?
It's pretty simple. It's an expectation that all young men of our faith serve a two-year mission. I prayed to God and felt like it was the right thing to do. Now I'm here, and it's been the best decision I've ever made.
What does a missionary do?
The missionary program is a volunteer, unpaid organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons). We are assigned to an area with a language, to teach and serve the people in that region for two years. I'm currently in the California San Fernando Mission -- Spanish Speaking!
We are always assigned a companion. In other words, another 18-23 year old guy to work, study... and do everything else with. I'm with Elder Hoyt right now 24-7 until we get transferred. It's good practice learning to get along with people :)
For me, things have definitely accelerated in the past couple of months. For one thing, I've been more involved with other people from various different groups (including the other gappies - we regularly chat over Google Hangouts).
Context: Since I'm french, I was drawn a mustache, wine bottle and loaf of bread. I countered with a playing card to fool Google's facial recognition. (And before you ask, 'tampon' means 'stamp' in french)
First of all, I have deepened my interest in Cardistry (card manipulation). I recently met a couple of people in my area who share this passion. As it turns out, one of them lives near Boston and designed a deck of cards which will be on Kickstarter very soon. I met with him on my way to Candidates' Weekend (which I'll talk more about in a bit). He showed me a prototype of his deck, and we shot a quick video. Now, it's the official trailer for the Kickstarter campaing! So that's kind of neat.
Also on the topic of Cardistry: Cardistry-Con happens to be in Brooklyn this year (which is where NYU-Poly is situated). That's already an interesting coincidence, but to top it off, a good friend of mine back in Paris was randomly selected (out of about 150 people) to go to the conference, all travel expenses paid. This is a funny universe we live in.
I mentioned going to Candidates' Weekend for the class of 2019. It was a very interesting experience as a gappie. We were sort of in limbo, not quite a candidate, not quite a student. I arrived a day early, so I was able to sit in on a couple of classes - Mechanical Prototyping and Mechanical Design. Both classes revolved around a group project, in classical Olin fashion, so I sat and watched. I realized that NYU-Poly students might never do this sort of work, and certainly not as a freshman. Of course I had been told this was the case, but it was interesting to see it first hand.
I also performed at the NYU-wide talent show. Sadly I didn't win, but the experience was definitely amazing.
Finally, I'd like to wrap this sequence of posts up with what they really are about: How this gap year significantly changed my life. I've always enjoyed mathematics a lot, but I never seriously considered becoming a mathematician; robotics has always been my goal. Yet recently, it has become more and more apparent that I should not discard my passion for math so fast. This semester, I am taking both Linear Algebra and Discrete Math. Both professors independently and almost simultaneously asked if I was interested in doing research with some of the mathematics faculty. It was a bit of an awkward because, obviously, I'm enrolling at Olin next year. I had a conversation with my Discrete Math professor, and kept on asking why I wasn't a Computer Science major (which at Poly mostly means math). I have some answers but the decision is not completely clear. Therefore, it seems that I'm going to design my own major when I get to Olin, a thought I never would have had if I had gone there straight out of high school. On top of that, I have met some very interesting students, I know at least two professors from whom I could ask a letter of recommendation, and already some options in doing mathematics research. I was afraid that this gap year might go to waste and that I'd leave for Olin with nothing more than some increased knowledge of Linear Algebra and C++. I'm now confident that it was absolutely not a waste.
If you are planning to take a gap year, seriously consider going to college. Make sure your choice is very different from Olin. With the appropriate motivation, it's likely that good things will come out of it, and that your time at Olin will be that much better.
If you're a parent, hopefully you get out of these posts that a gap year is not a sign of failure. It's a very (very) good medium for opportunity. And trust me, waiting a bit to go to Olin is completely worth it.