Advice for a prospective physics major?

<p>So, I am currently a high school senior in the midst of college applications and all that good stuff. Lately, I have been thinking a good deal about what I want to do in college. Based on what experience I have, I am leaning towards a major in Physics. However, I get the impression that the “experience” I have only slightly resembles what I should expect in college. Other than AP Physics C (Mech + Electricity and Magnetism) and reading a few popular books about physics, my only real experience with higher level physics has been a research internship over the summer at a nearby University. In addition to this, I feel that I am currently wasting a lot of time that could be used to prepare or at least get a better feel for an undergraduate major in physics. </p>

<p>-What should I be doing now to prepare for a physics major (Independently studying math? physics?/Summer Programs or Internships/Things to think about for Graduate School)?<br>
-And what do you regret that you did not do while in high school to be more prepared for physics in college?</p>

<p>Most schools' physics curricula assume that a new freshman has had high school physics and math up to precalculus (a few super-elite science-oriented schools assume more). If you are taking AP Physics C and presumably calculus, you are ahead of the normal sequence. Most students at most schools do not have numerous college courses in their major subject before graduating from high school. Of course, anything physics related that you do (independent reading, projects, etc.) can help, though you should not feel like you are "behind" if you do not do these things.</p>

<p>If you attend a university where honors freshman and sophomore level physics and math courses are available, you may want to consider choosing those over the regular courses.</p>

<p>The core of undergraduate physics basically consists of mechanics, modern physics, thermal physics, electromagnetic theory, and optics. After that, you'll have electives that suit your fancy but also that build on some or all of the core curriculum. Other than satisfying your curiosity, you're probably as well prepared as you can be.</p>

<p>I agree with both of the above posts, but I'm going to add something that might sound strange: read middle-school physics books. In Physics C you're doing a lot of very detailed problem-solving, and you're focusing so much on the trees that it's easy to lose sight of the forest. I've known a lot of people who can solve exact mathematical problems in physics, but when asked simple conceptual questions about gravity or electrostatics or physical versus chemical properties, they don't know the answers. Seeing this basic material again while doing more advanced work helps it sink in on a more intuitive level, and having that intuitive feel for the underlying concepts is the real key to a solid foundation in physics.</p>

<p>I love the ScienceSaurus books for reinforcing basic principles across all science disciplines. Here's a link to the middle school edition: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Sciencesaurus-Handbook-Great-Source/dp/0669529168/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324305130&sr=8-2%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.amazon.com/Sciencesaurus-Handbook-Great-Source/dp/0669529168/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324305130&sr=8-2&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>