This is the second year of grad applications for me and although I've done what I could afford to improve my application (paying for and A-minus-ing a semester of grad level QM), I'm feeling pretty pessimistic about my odds of acceptance again. Frankly, I'm almost 26 and I'm not sure if I can keep getting my hopes up like this, so screw grad school directly, are there merely any research/internship programs out there that'll accept someone not currently enrolled as an undergrad? Every time I look into that option all I find are programs that explicitly ONLY accept folks enrolled as an undergrad (no one who's graduated). REU does this. Sigh. Are there any alternatives? I live in a city with only one university anywhere near and the department is practically non-existent (and god forbid you're interested in theory), so it's not exactly financially feasible for me to just pop-round a department (closest real one is like 100 miles away) and strike up conversations with professors.