Not all high school students who wish to study think that they will be able to realize this wish. This article examines whether admission barriers to higher education (HE) are a potential reason for this mismatch between educational aspirations and expectations and whether they are more constraining for students from socially less advantaged backgrounds. It does so for the German context in which the role of admission barriers for social inequality in HE has long been neglected. Empirically, the paper uses a unique combination of individual data on high school students’ educational aspirations and expectations and institutional data on admission barriers that vary by field of study. Findings indicate that the socially most privileged students stick to their college aspiration regardless of admission barriers to their aspired field of study. However, they seem to be willing to compromise their preferred field of study if this comes along with high admission barriers. Contrastingly, socially less privileged students seem willing to compromise both their general college aspiration and their aspired field of study if admission appears difficult. The concluding section discusses the implications of these findings for social inequality in education.