So I'm currently in the process of completing my ACT on a program that will help me apply to the US. As conceited as this may seem, I'm thinking of applying to either Stanford, Caltech, MIT or Harvard (for undergrad). Yes obviously they're all some of the best on the planet, but I do have a small chance. I can only put one for Early Decision, and so I was wondering which one would be the most appropriate. Hopefully a few people on here know these places well enough to guide me. My aspirations are to study theoretical/particle/cosmological physics. I'm not a practical guy, so engineering courses aren't preferable. I would like to have a decent social life; I want to be able to mix with people with similar academic pursuits, as well as others. Variety is the spice of life ;) MIT strikes me as the obvious 'FOR SCIENCE GO HERE' place. But is it really where I should be? Should I not be too concerned on the research aspects of the universities for undergrad; should I save research interest for grad schools. Or should research be a big thing to consider right now? Obviously places like LIGO and Fermilab are the coolest places alive and given their strong connections with MIT and Caltech, should this be a consideration? I would like to keep up my swimming, but I highly doubt I'm the standard for Harvard's teams. Or maybe I should stay in the UK and focus my efforts into Cambridge or Birmingham, which is where I would to be over here. tldr: MIT, Stanford, Caltech or Harvard for a UK student who wants to study theoretical physics and needs a strong sense of variety in a community and a good social life. Also I like swimming.