By "specific research focus" I mean not just an interest in experiment or theory but also a particular subfield like "high energy" or "condensed matter" (the two broadest categories).
I wrote in my applications that I was interested in doing theoretical physics (and that's true) and at some places I said I was particularly interested in doing quantum computing (what I've done before). I have a legitimate interest in quantum computing, but in all honesty I'm going into the choosing phase of the application process without much certainty at all about what I'd to research.
I told myself that my focus would be getting in to strong schools overall in physics because I really don't know what I want to do research on particular. I also told myself that with such strong interests, accordingly I could pick the strongest research areas at a school in terms of other convenient factors like advisers and funding.
For instance, I've gotten advice that it may be a mistake to get into HEP because you're either locked into gigantic collaborations or entirely untestable work.
Now I'm paranoid that perhaps there may be areas of physics that I may not be interested in after all -- at my small school, I haven't been able to take coursework in either condensed matter physics or anything in particular related to high energy physics. I may eventually figure out what areas of research I'm sure that I want to get into, but maybe those areas won't be the ideal match for where I'm going.
Thoughts? Shared feelings?