Thanks for the replies!
I think this would be for the best; my main motivation is the fact that I'm still largely unsure of what I would like to do, and hopefully some graduate exposure to research and coursework with a masters degree will focus me for a Ph.D. at a reputable institution.
I'm really not a bad applicant - my 3.0 cum (and 3.1 physics) shows a strong upward trend, and I plan to pull it to a 3.2 by graduation, I have research experience, and am going to start studying early for the PGRE. I'm just terribly lost, I suppose; I love physics but I have no idea of where I would like to go with it. My department is small, so there's no opportunity to take electives off the beaten path, or do research outside of a very narrow range of condensed-matter projects. I figured that as a solid applicant I may be able to get some sort of reimbursement through TA-ship or something (still new to this), but I understand that I'll probably have to take out student loans. It's not a worry, though - it's worth it to find out what I truly am passionate about. I'm interested in biophysics and astronomy, and would like to spend the time before grad applications to learn all I can about the active fields of research in those disciplines, and try to narrow down my interests.
How are masters admissions, though, from your experiences? Do they forgive a lack of focus outside of an interest in a certain subdiscipline (like astronomy)?
badphysicist wrote:You can check out California State Univ, Long Beach (and other csus) if you want to do your masters here in California.
I'm looking into it now, this actually looks like a really interesting program. Did you like doing your masters there? What did you think of it, if you don't mind me asking?