First, some background. When I was a kid, I used to be way ahead of the class in every subject, to the point that the school wanted me to skip several grades. But a bunch of really traumatic family stuff happened that turned the last ten years of my life into a sinkhole, resulting in my grades falling through the floor, to the point that I barely got into a small, relatively unknown liberal arts school and then nearly flunked out my first year here. Since that first year though, I've entered the physics program, and have since had straight 4.0s every quarter. I'm finally approaching my old pace, but I'm terrified that's its too late to redeem myself. I hate to sound like I'm looking for sympathy, or, even worse, to sound pretentious. But I want my full meaning and desperation to come across. I'm currently breezing through my physics courses with little effort. I'm learning a lot, but I feel that I could be doing considerably more. However, I feel like simply working ahead in the book won't do me a lot of good, since I have to go over all of the same material in class at some point regardless. My idea has been to concentrate on the material we have covered so far, becoming as fluent in the basic concepts as possible. I have been trying to find as much material online as possible from top schools, using resources such as MIT open courseware, to make sure I fill out any gaps in my school's physics curriculum. Also, I have found highly regarded textbooks such as Spivak's Calculus and the Berkeley Physics Series in my school library and intend to go through them in order to review previous material at a higher standard. Lately I have been doing all of the odd-numbered problems in my physics book, which is far more than assigned. My school also has a stash of freshman physics books very similar to ours but by different authors, and I thought I might check them out and specifically try only the problems rated most difficult. I'm also scraping together what little money I have to buy some basic equipment to perform simple demos in my house, just to keep things fun. One of my biggest fears right now is that I don't know how to gain any practical experience outside of the very basic labs that we do for class. But I'm looking for more ideas. What is the best way to get ahead and/or develop a high command of the material? Are there any flaws in my current approach? Is it worth it to try and learn subjects ahead of time, even if we are going to cover them in class anyway? Or is it better to concentrate on becoming fluent in what we've already covered? Edit: Forgot to mention that I'm a freshman in the program, just getting ready to start my first electricity and magnetism class. As far as math goes, I've taken vector calculus, but no linear algebra or differential equations yet. So that should give everyone an idea of what level I'm at right now.