Looking for some feedback on this. I will have (by next month) completed a BS in physics and a BS in mechanical engineering. I applied to 5 nuclear engineering PhD programs, got into 2 but neither offered funding (tuition waiver + TA/RA). I've decided to work for 2 years. Over the next 2 years I plan to improve my physical health, get my driving license, do better on the standardized exams, bank money, and continue to narrow my research interests. I'm looking for ways to improve my application in 2 years. Obviously, with more money I can apply to more places. But I don't think by working 2 years in government or industry that I will be able to get a publication, not sure that it matters given I'll be being work? Also, how hard is it to transition back to school after a 2 year break? I've heard once you start making decent money there's no way you'd want to be a grad student. Also, what about personal life items like delaying marriage? If anyone has any experience with this sorts of issues, let me know what you think.