OK... This is a going to be a LONG post. My apologies for that, and anything that seems contradictory right now. I am probably going to change what I think(I am 18), so take all of this with a grain of salt. I probably don't even know what I talking about. I am not thinking straight. I really don't want to sound whiny, arrogant, unrealistic(thinking I could ever make straight A's after doing this badly? get real), what have you here, so if that is what I come across, apologies. I seem to rub people the wrong way sometimes. The Internet is not a good medium for emotion. I am a first semester EE at a top 10 engineering school. I just got my grades back and they were FAR worse than I expected. I had my eye on grad school-and yes, high ranking ones-as well the Hertz, NSF, blah blah blah... I feel very silly for even dreaming of it now. Sort of a "what was I thinking scenario." I've done the calculations, and if I make A's from here on out(which I keep getting told is wishful thinking more often than not-I am confident that I will do better next semester for reasons I will illustrate later in this vast outpouring that is this thread, but I don't know if it will be THAT much better.) I will have a roughly 3.7-.75 GPA by application time... not a bad GPA by any means, but definately not ideal for MIT, Caltech, UCB, etc. And that is the best case scenario, which probably everyone above me in class thinks will happen to them too. Yes, I know that with a 4.0, I still probably wouldn't get in, and I know there are other grad schools. I know there is time to bring it up. But it definately affects my short term prospects. My chances at a Goldwater are pretty much screwed(of course, I knew this a while ago, when I figured out that I wouldn't be making straight A's), and there is the issue of REU's, study abroad programs-really good one I was hoping to do, scholarships, etc. Would doing my master's at my home school, if possible, and doing good on that improve chances at grad school? Of course, I don't know if EE is what I want to do anymore, so I guess I shouldn't be so sure of it, but... My questions/rant will come in two seperate parts for organization's sake. Part 1-Major First of all, I am considering a switch to physics. (Also considering ChemE/biochem, but not as much, and ChemE I couldn't do even if I wanted to now due to the GPA. Some stuff in ChemE sounds really cool, but I don't like the base of it-thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, reactor design. Maybe that is the case for a ChemE BS, but ChemE grad school is different. I was hoping for more chemistry, biology sort of thing. If I am wrong, please tell me. For simplicity's sake, let's keep it to physics vs EE) I was torn between EE and physics at the beginning of the semester. I was leaning toward physics, but I went EE because of job prospects, the fact that it was harder to get into EE than physics, and parental nudging. I was hoping to do nanotechnology. Spin state electronics and photovoltaics also appeal a lot. I don't want to just make something more efficient however, I'd like to pioneer a new field. It seems as though engineering is a lot about improving things. While that is important, I want to make an imprint on human life as we know it. I like the idea of working with nanotechnology a lot. I also like renewable energy, though I don't if this is an EE thing. EE is a broad degree, with a lot of routes, which appeals to a guy interested in a lot of things like me. That being said, I don't like programming, and I really should have thought of that before doing this. I try really hard in programming, but still don't seem to do well. Circuitry is OK, but I don't LOVE it, and it seems as though EE rests upon circuits. I brought home my circuits books and am going over more problems to see how I truly feel. I really like physics, but I don't know if I am good enough at it to make a career out of it. You need to be at the top to get a position in academia, and I know I am no Einstein. (If I was, would I really be having problems now?) Are there oppurtunities for phd's in physics outside of academia. I am not good at math, didn't like it until I encountered calculus, and proofs are my bane. I like it OK now, but am still not a lover. I don't see it as elegent, merely a means to an end. I know that is a very engineering thing. No offense to any mathematicians out there. I am really working hard to bring my understanding up. I was just severely mathematically abused in school as a child. It is a depressingly common case in America. I also want to apply my physics knowledge to more real life problems. Biophysics appeals to me, as do semiconductors and such. I have heard physics people work there. Then again, CERN is really cool as well. I guess I really don't know what I want. I am trying to use this month to figure it out. I'd like to put more here, but I don't want to keep you reading forever. I'll elaborate more on what I like above if you wish. If I said contridictory , tell me. Completely random, but can you get into protein engineering with EE? Or do you need ChemE/BME? Part 2-Grades No matter what I choose, I need to get straight A's. So this is what I will do.I've been preparing for next semester. First off, I've gotten my hands on a Diff EQ book-I gotta take that class no matter what I do next semester major wise-, and am studying it, going through the problems, everything. I am enjoying it so far, but I am still worried. I will follow the standard advice(read book before class, sit in front, take notes, do HW as soon as possible. Turn off the wifi on the computer when typing, or keep the computer away from me. I have no illusions that this will all magically take place without hard work and conciously sticking to it, but it is what I need to do. Focus on this semester, and NOT years down the road. I spent an unhealthy amount of time here looking on what to do research wise. Any other suggestions? I know notes in particular would help. I didn't take notes at all in high school. Didn't need to, did fine on grades and standardized test scores. Should of known college would be different I did at the beginning of the semester-incidentelly started off the semester well, but finished horribly- but fell out of the habit. Which might have contributed. Also, I don't know if this counts for me, but I will be going back on medication this semester. In high school, I was on medication for helping me focus and other things(I have a condition which I'd prefer not to state-yeah, I know, why bring it up then, but just roll with me here), and I went off it the semester. I wanted to do it "on my own". Some choice. This isn't all of it of course, I will need to work harder, but I strongly believe it will help somewhat. It isn't a magic pill, but I do get a lot better on it. No excuse though. I am so afraid as though I sound as though I believe everything will magically change and they will ignore this semester because I wasn't on my meds, which isn't the case. Oh yes, before I forget. I looked intensively for research positions last semester. Had no luck, but did see some signs for this semester-one guy told me to apply this semester. Again, no guarentees, but I need research even more than GPA for grad school right? Wouldn't having research since freshman year help my case? However, shouldn't I be focused on getting those straight A's if possible? Or do I need the research to make up for this GPA deficit. Would it actually help because it would force me to manage time more efficiently(less to time to surf the the web and study whatever I please), as screwed up as that sounds. That is a big catch 22 with research. I guess I am helped somewhat by the fact that I don't really have any friends. I tried really hard to this semester, and have actually made some progress, but I'm still not where I want to be. I feel even more pathetic for not being able to make the grades without social distractions. Sorry for the rambling, disjointed context. All of this might not make sense. If not, just say so, I will clarify. My parents have been really mad at me, and I am not in the clearest mind of my life right now. I guess I feel as though all my hopes have been crushed. Sounds so melodramitic. I guess I feel somewhat lost right now. PS: One thing I should mention is that not all classes are the same. In the math, I think it was due to not enough effort notetaking-I underestimated the courses, and it bit me in the butt-, whereas in EE, I tried plenty hard, but still didn't get the results. PSS: I should have jumped on it earlier this semester when I realized that I wouldn't be making straight A's. I screwed up on a midterm or two as well. But I didn't think my GPA would turn out to be THIS bad. I really had a good feeling about the finals after I took it. Gotta stop whining, and go study Diff EQ now. :\ Bottom line, am I just not cut out for science/engineering? Am I in the right major? If I do what I plan on doing and work really hard, can I make straight A's, or is it a fantasy. Is there any chance in h*** of me making it into a top grad school?