Hi there, I'm a junior in undergrad, and so far I've had a summer of research experience at an REU, just started research at my current school in December, and am doing another REU this summer. I'm a transfer student and at my previous school there were literally no research opportunities except in fields I know I have no interest in (biology/neuroscience). My lack of research experience there probably led me to being accepted at my first REU, which was in materials science (nanoscale optics). I learned a lot from that REU, and realized that while I don't like working in a chemistry lab, I was very interested in the theory behind certain AMO topics, and at the time, also preferred working with the electronics required such as microcontrollers and C++ programming. My programming interest led me to starting work in an experimental HEP group at my current university after I transferred. This was great because I'm doing a lot of coding work. However, I'm still interested in materials, and actually not quite interested in hardware/engineering. At the same time, I'm interested in doing theory in graduate school (I'm really interested in the actual physics and math more than hands-on work, though I like programming). I've thought about it, and I would probably consider pursuing something like AMO or CM theory. My issue is that my school has no real opportunities in fields of physics that concern materials (AMO, CM)--it is actually well known for HEP, so everyone is doing HEP here. However, despite my experience and my desire to do theory in grad, I heard that applying for HEP theory will kill my grad school chances... (And also, I'm not sure if it's my top interest, as I mentioned before.) In any case, I don't feel very confident that all my research experience in HEP will actually help me out when applying to grad school. My REU this summer is also in HEP (didn't get into any non-particle physics ones that interested me), where I will be learning neutrino physics and ROOT. I actually do feel like it will be fun, and I will be able to contribute a lot to the project with my current HEP knowledge (meaning a potential great letter of rec), but basically my issue is... I feel like, through circumstance, I'm being funneled through to HEP, even though I want to do theory in grad school (and probably not in HEP). I've been working hard to try to get into the best grad school I can... Do grad schools weigh relevant research experience heavily? Not sure if I should do whatever it takes to switch to materials or even some mathematical physics/theory research work now, or continue with HEP-Ex and become more of a "heavy-hitter" undergrad (and maybe even just apply to HEP-Ex for grad--but I know I would probably just want to "switch" to theory).