Matthew's gap year, in conclusion

Here it is: My last post! 

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). matt1.png

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.

Matthew Beaudouin-Lafon

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