I got a bachelors in physics in '08 at an upper liberal arts college. Intended to take a year off but fell into a depressed rut (father died, girlfriend left, etc etc) and just worked a low-skill job / volunteered / played wow for two years. Cleaned my act up a year ago. I'd surfed through school never having to work and never learning anything new in my classes until senior year when I took upper QM and basically got run over by a train, ending up with a C+. So I got over my intellectual-embarassment hangup that prevented me from ever asking questions and learned how to actually read a textbook rather than just find the problems. Rekindled my love affair with the subject and started studying on my own. I sheepishly wrote my professors (I only had three) last fall for recommendations to grad school, applied to four programs and was rejected. My QM professor advised that I enroll in a graduate level course to prove my nettle. I talked to folks at my local college to that end only to just now learn from another professor that the department is now a hollowed out shell and the "graduate level QM" course I was going to take this fall is just the undergrad QM course marked up in cost -- there essentially are no graduate physics courses this year in my city. Earlier I'd been considering a move with my fiance to Berkeley but gradschool credits in that area are beyond my savings right now so I passed it up. Now after having what seemed like a reasonable action plan I'm all of a sudden at a loss for what to do. What options are there for a graduate to repair things / build recommendations to get into a grad program? I was under the impression that internships are only offered to those currently enrolled in school either as an undergrad or graduate. I'm kinda sick to my stomach at the idea of waiting until fall 2013 to get into a graduate program (having to move somewhere else and wait a whole year to get into a graduate class and only then apply to programs). Five years! Yuck. And I can only imagine how terrible that'll look.