I am a high school student who is thinking about going to university for Geological Sciences. I've had an interest in rocks and such since I was little, but I want to get an idea of what studying Geology at a post-secondary level would be like. I am looking for recommendations for high school/undergrad level books that would be accessible for a 16 year old, specifically on Mineralogy and Physical Geography (the areas I am most interested in). Thanks!
I believe Manual of Mineralogy (based on Dana) is a good start for mineralogy and crystallography subjects. It is a good manual to understand the basics behind crystalls and minerals. It is a bit theoric, but it explain crystallography laws you need to know to face microscope. It also list the minerals by groups following Dana classification.
I would recommend to chose recent introduction books to get a view about Earth Sciences in general, as modern tectonics has changed some concepts. That will cost you some chips; if that's a trouble, university libraries use to be open to public. You can go there and read any book published recently whose title look like "Introduction to Earth Sciences". There are some books that specifically have a geophysics approach.
Talking about studying geology at a post-secondary level would be like, you need to know in geology field is the lab. In firsts courses you might find difficult to get it, but once you got the basic concepts, you will start to enjoy the Friday trips.
I am going to recommend, if you have the opportunity, to join a geology summer camp. You can ask at the university you want to join if they have field introductory courses. You will need good shoes, a geology hammer, a compass, a magnifying glass and good attitude to learn new things.
"Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology" by John D. Winter is a good book to get into when you get past the basics and want to learn more about petrology, as it also touches into concepts of density gradients of the earth and the creation of the galaxy. It is pretty pricey so if you found a used one for cheap or a PDF online I would recommend you read it as it gives most of the terminology you would be needing as a geologist. Agreeing with Universal_learner, Dana has great books to start out on and learn mineralogy and crystallography.
One of the things that I wish I took earlier on in my learning career was field geology because it really solidifies everything that you learned in class and read about in text by actually practicing the concepts. A little bit of advice for hands on labs is to actually take your time and exam your rock with a loupe, understanding the textures, and how that correlates with its formation.
I highly recommend "The Story of Earth", by Robert M. Hazen. The title sounds like a children's book, but it's actually a very good starting place for learning about historical geology, which is essential for understanding other aspects of earth science. It's a very accessible look at how planets form, and it won't cost you nearly as much as the average geology textbook.