Grade 9-12

College: Where am I going to go?

Time: 60 mins,
Updated: July 6 2020,


Students will be able to:

  • Evaluate college options.

In this economics lesson, students will use economic reasoning to choose post-secondary options.



Ask students if they have thought about what they want to do after high school graduation. Have them identify three paths for a high school senior to explore doing after graduation. (Responses should include attending a college or university with the hope of earning a bachelor’s degree or higher; attending a technical school or community college with the hope of earning an associate’s degree, getting a certificate, or learning a trade; or working full-time). Remind students that whatever choice they make now can have a long-term impact of their future.


Tell students they will be using a decision making model to help them learn how to make better choices. They will explore the options for a college education in this lesson. Use Slides 1-8 with notes to demonstrate the process of choosing the “best” college based on stated criteria in the PACED model.

Group Activity

Put students into groups. Have each group use the PACED model to research viable post-secondary options for a high school student with the following qualifications: a 2.5/4.0 GPA and a 25 SAT score, experience managing social media accounts for student organizations, and a positive record consulting regularly with businesses in the community paying $30 per hour and contracting for a minimum of hours per job. Show students Slide 9 and distribute a copy of Where should Patrick go to College? to use when completing the assignment. After they have worked through the model to make a choice, have each group report their findings to the class. Use Slide 10 to debrief the activity.

Individual Activity

Provide students with an individual PACED worksheet. Ask each student to consider their own personal situation and goals to identify the best post-secondary option for themselves. (Note: it may be preferable to use this as homework to allow them to work through the model with a parent or guardian.) Review the information in Slide 10 and distribute a copy of the My Plans After High School Graduation before students begin. Debrief the assignment after students have finished their assignments by asking students what they learned.


Have students write a short essay describing how to use the PACED model to provide advice to a 3.0/4.0 GPA student athlete trying to choose among these competiting alternatives on a Wednesday night: studying for a heavily weighted exam on Thursday, hanging out with friends, and going to the gym for weight training. Answers will vary. Students would earn full credit if they correctly followed the PACED model, noting that the athlete’s decision depends on establishing a set of criteria for selecting the alternative with highest value and the least cost.


Activity 1

Using the PACED model, ask students to use it to evaluate a past decision, or to anticipate an important decision in the future. To earn full credit, they should describe the problem, list possible alternatives or options, identify key criteria, determine the best decision, and explain why it is the best decision given their criteria.