Etranger wrote:I've had a lot of issues (emotional and existential, for the most part - I was lucky enough to not have to worry about food...) to get through, and as a result, *I* messed up high school. I suppose I am the typical "Oh, but he had so much potential..." kid old ladies sigh about.
Lately, I have been having doubts about physics. What if I'm not good enough?
My study habits have been horrible (I may/may not have ADD + previously mentioned issues) and before I go to university, I intend on at the very least doing some parts of Halliday-Resnick and the first Volume of the Berkeley Physics Series books. For a year or so now, I have been "contemplating" studying proof based calculus, classical mechanics, and electromagnetism on my own, but I haven't done jack ***.
The only constructive things I have done, besides volunteering, over the past year is going to the gym (even then, I haven't been too consistent) and improving my social skills in general.
On some levels, I think I can hack it. Twofish-quant, over at physicsforums.com (I don't really like it there anymore...), often said that if you could do calculus, then none of the math in physics should be a problem. It sounds almost too easy, when he puts it that way. Watching the admissions results here doesn't help much either. I'm scared at the thought of spending my college fund on a physics degree, and I end up doing badly, and/or I can't find a job after it.
As for why I even want to do physics, then it's just because I am good at using math (I don't know about pure math...), and I like the idea of using math to describe physical processes. It looks pretty and interesting. I get kicks out of it. And I can't really imagine doing anything else. I like literature/philosophy but I don't think I could stand doing a single major in either (got rejected from all US schools - except for one waitlist -, so I need to pick *one* thing anyway) subject.
I acquired Cal Newport's "How to be a Straight-A Student" book, and I will read it tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to apply some of his ideas.
I was a chump in high school. I was lazy, unmotivated, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and had negligible social skills. The good news is that you can completely reinvent yourself upon entering college without anyone caring about who you were or what you accomplished beforehand. There's also no need to self study so much material before going to a university, not that that's never a bad thing. You will learn all that you need to know from classes (until you start research, but then you learn from papers and such), and at least for me I know that I would not have been prepared in terms of study habits, motivation, and analytic thinking to self-study material at you're current state.
Also, I've found that the people who have the worst experiences talk the loudest and often over-exaggerate things. Yes, physics is hard, getting into graduate school is hard, but it's not impossible. If it was easy it wouldn't really be worth doing anyway. All you need to know from admission results at this point in your career is that it is possible to get into the best graduate schools from 'mediocre' universities, which means that you can too.