I swear, I hear this question so much, especially amongst high school and university students.
In short, the answer is: Yes.
But the caveat to it is: It varies.
I take this from a Bachelor of Commerce perspective, since that is what I studied.
First of all, there should not be any reason why you should not aim to get the best High school results possible and aim to get into your first preference. But however, life doesn’t always go that way.
Does that mean your life is over?
No, not at all.
Can you still work in competitive fields like Consulting or Investment Banking? Yeah, it’s possible still, but harder.
Why harder? Generally, with any type of mass recruitment at junior levels, the first round of culling usually depends on how well well-rounded application you submit. Well rounded? Well, that’s one with solid grades and strong extracurriculars. Since thousands of students are applying, it’s usually the students from the top universities that make it through since they are often the ones that put in the time and energy to research the roles, and craft an application that stands out.
So, getting through that first round, I think it helps to go to a Top educational institution. If you didn’t get into one, you can always work hard and transfer into one after doing a year at another university.
But also, I’ve seen numerous lateral hires into top tier consulting and banking roles, some of them went to “less respected” Universities, worked themselves up and ended up being laterally hired into more senior roles. So, it’s definitely possible, but regardless, both approaches require a lot of hard work.
There are always numerous routes to get to an end goal, and just because the first route didn’t work out doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up. You could even work a few years, then do a Masters program at a more prestigious university either locally or abroad and then try your luck, I’ve had many acquaintances go down this path and achieve great success.
So tl;dr – Does it matter which University you attend? As a Commerce undergraduate student, Yes, it matters to a degree for certain professions. But there are other options to get to your goal. All options require hard work.
For other degrees like IT, or Health related ones, it matters less. Generally, as there’s demand and growth in those sectors.