We know competition is fierce and the pressure is high. To play safe, many students apply for higher diplomas and associate degrees.
However, if you want a proper four-year undergraduate experience and a well-recognised degree title that is easy on your parent's wallet, you should look at mainland universities.
Here we've rounded up the most popular institutions among Hongkongers, those that teach in English, and the best places for popular subjects, with help from Law Wing-cheung, the principal of Heung To College of Professional Studies.
The most popular among Hongkongers
When you first mention study destinations on the mainland, top-notch universities such as Peking, Tsinghua and Fudan come to mind.
However, most Hongkongers enrol in National Chi Nan University and Huaqiao University, says Law. These two universities alone admitted about Hong Kong 5,000 students last year. Sun Yat-sen University and Xiamen University come next on the list.
The English-medium schools
Don't cross the mainland off your list just because you are a poor Putonghua speaker! There are universities that teach in English, just as in Hong Kong.
The University of Nottingham Ningbo China runs the same academic curriculum as the British campus and students at the China campus graduate with the same degrees. United International College in Zhuhai (founded by Beijing Normal University and Hong Kong Baptist University) and Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University also teach all their courses in English.
Several mainland universities have partnered foreign universities to offer "1+2+1" double degree programmes. Students study the first and last year on the mainland and spend the two years in between in partnering institutions - longer than the semester-long exchange programmes offered by Hong Kong universities. For example, those who study at Guangdong University of Finance and Economics can spend half their studies at Purdue University in the US, Toronto University in Canada, or the University of Liverpool in Britain.
The best for your field of interest
Business: Tsinghua, Xian Jiaotong University, Renmin University of China and Nankai University are at the top of the list.
Architecture: Tsinghua, Tongji, Tianjin and Southeast University (one of its professors built the iconic Chinese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010).
"Programmes have been recognised internationally since 2008," Law says. "There is plenty of development in China and many Hong Kong firms have projects there. Exposure to the industry on the mainland is an advantage."
Chinese medicine: Most teachers at Chinese medicine departments at Hong Kong universities come from the mainland, and students have to head north for internships. You may as well just study in Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, or Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Last year, more than 100 students enrolled in these programmes. If they pass a registration exam, they can practise in Hong Kong.
Medicine: It's not the end of the world if you don't get into HKU or CUHK. National Chi Nan University and Sun Yat-sen University offered credible programmes in Western medicine. About 450 Hongkongers were admitted to the two institutes last year.