"Physicist's block"? Is it too late for me to pursue physics? Firstly, I preface that I'm 18 and in my final year of high school, pending completion of my GCE A level courses in a couple of months. I've just read ZapperZ's introduction which only expanded my interest, but didn't address the high-school-side-of-things. Secondly, I'm sorry for the long first post... I originally wanted to ask a Matlab-related question on this forum but I figured it out (I think - can't be sure until I make it start solving), so I ended up with plenty of time. Take this as both an introduction and my first set of questions as a new member here. Now, I didn't know what I liked back then. I can safely say I used to be very good with both sciences; my teachers were frank with me that I was the top science student for year after year, but admittedly, I never saw that much beauty in them back then. I also had little drive to do anything beyond getting grades. I could have chosen to skip at least 2 grades, but instead stayed on the regular curriculum. But I was eventually prepared to throw myself into engineering because I had doubts that I'd do anything illustrious in physics. Reason being, on top of the mis-maneuver on the choice to skip grades, a particular year of very poor study habits and personal problems had landed me with average scores in both Physics and Math. And it never seemed to return to its original state after that. This in turn, led me to believe I have permanently lost my aptitude in them; I still have these doubts. Maybe it's this sudden loss of ability; maybe it was because I had to skip about 11 weeks of high school before I've come to fully appreciate both sciences. I chanced across a book on embedding a 4-manifold in 3 dimensions, which had an interesting literature but I couldn't understand the math; I also came across some perturbation related problems on QM (I don't recall exactly), which seemed elegant but made no sense to me; these two prompted me to return to school - I still hope to understand them. Despite my 11 week hiatus, they admitted me to the top high school over here based on my past records. Anyway, to make matters worse, engineering continued to entice me. I've been doing research on fluid dynamics, which seems to be the most interesting area for me presently. Though it's good that I have experience with solving PDEs/ODEs, multivariable/vector calculus etc. from this, though I won't say I'm good at them (in fact, they erode my confidence daily)... I also (accidentally) ordered Halliday-Resnick's and Serway-Faughn's, which I find easy, though I can't qualify my statement since I didn't finish reading the both. I know I've to undo the damage if I still intend to pursue physics. I'm now faring average amongst people, though to be fair to myself, have a little headstart. But everything's against me: - I'm 18, and I'm betting that's rather old compared to the rest of the people who're competing for my position in strong science colleges. - I was briefly on the school's mathematical olympiad team, only to realize that the national selections clashed with a science exchange in Switzerland... - I'm actively irresponsible (courtesy of von Neumann and Feynman), which means my testimonial is blank; I didn't bother listing any suggestions (mostly chess related, which amounts to little in my point of view) for my counselors to choose. - My science/math tutors don't know me well because I've been average in these through high school, which means I don't hope for anything with regards to the teacher evaluation for science. Strangely, my philosophy tutors have very good opinions of me because I figured out that I could totally neglect my humanities and superficially convert Banach-Tarski's paradox into an epistemic problem, skew a line or two between the EPR experiment and deduction, or mix particle accelerators with perception, induction, Hume etc. And apparently that always places me top 5 in the cohort... (the arts faculty guys must be clueless that I'm playing my own game) but I'm not banking hopes on an arts evaluation. In short, 1) Aeronautical engineering or physics? I have difficulties assessing whether I am intuitively adept with physics/math. I'd rather do engineering if I'm certain that I'm not good with physics/maths. I'd like to hear your comments/high school experiences on how I stand since you guys have probably been there and done that. Have you guys had your "slumps"/"physicist's block" (in the sense of "writer's block") somewhere in your studies? Or is it expected of physicists-to-be to have good scores in physics/math all way through before college? 2) Too late, or still early to give up on the top colleges? Should I pursue an undergraduate degree in a less competitive setting, and hope to make it to a good graduate program? There are a few things in college which I won't want to miss out on though - likelihood to find peers with similar interests, are good at the field I'm going into, and thus possible future colleagues/collaborators, quality of the physics departments at which, and the creative culture in the more attractive colleges? Is it too late for me to produce an application that could likely land me in one of these colleges? 3) and if so, what I should do at this point in time to improve my chances.