This book provides an in-depth insight into the individual, family, school and regional characteristics and their influence on the expected academic score and university applications of Irish school leavers. The book considers trends in participation rates to higher education, existing research evidence and policy debates as well as providing a theoretical and conceptual framework which underpins this extensive study. The work is based on a unique survey undertaken specifically for this research consisting of an in-depth questionnaire completed by 5,174 students in 105 nationally representative schools in the Republic of Ireland, which was 10% of the cohort. The study considers the influences which arise through variation in school type and composition, parental educational and occupational background as well as other attributes such as gender, participation in Transition Year and private tuition (‘grinds’), engagement in part-time work and also peer effects. The study also examines school to university distance and province effects using geo-coding to ascertain the impact of distance in respect of applications to university.