The course offered and its content are the most important factors when youngsters are deciding where they are going to attend university.
Research jointly commissioned by the Sutton Trust and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sought to find out the reason why people make the choices they do.
Over 13,000 students were surveyed as part of the investigation and it was found that league tables, academic reputation and the idea of challenging themselves are factored in by high achievers – defined as those with at least three Bs at A level.
Those who decided against applying to the most selective universities cited the cost of living, distance from home and job prospects as the main reasons for doing so.
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "Going to university is one of the most effective ways of boosting social mobility. But choosing what and where to study is a life-changing decision that can be incredibly daunting."
Because of this, he noted the government is determined to make it as easy as possible for people to fulfil their aspirations regardless of their background.