College Prep Lesson

Suggested Target Age: Grades 9-12 (but best for 9th-10th graders)

Topics Covered: college costs, college financing, benefits of higher education

Source: NEFE High School Financial Planning Program

Time Required: approximately 30 minutes

What Will the Students Learn?

  • They will understand the different college choices available
  • They will learn about the costs and value/benefits of higher education
  • They will be introduced to the world of college financial aid

State Academic Standards Key
California: CTE 3.3
Florida: no specific standards identified
Indiana: Guidance 9-12.1.5, 9-12.1.7
Virginia: CE.12c

NOTE: This lesson requires access to computers and the Internet.

Materials Needed:

  • Power point, computer & projector OR a large chart (see step 2 of Lesson Plan)
  • Teacher/instructor should plan the “Education: Worth It?” game on the Internet before teaching this lesson (See step 6 in the lesson plan)

Lesson Plan:

Set-Up: Gather students together in the computer lab

Introduction: Explain that in today’s class students will be learning a little about college

1. Ask the students what they think the monetary value of a college education is. That is, how much more money can a person make if they have a 4-year college degree, versus someone with just a high school degree? [list out some of their guesses on a chalkboard/whiteboard]

2. Show the class this chart (you could make it into a power point slide and project it, or just have a large version of the chart to hold up to the class):

Average Lifetime Earnings

Professional degree
College graduate with bachelors degree
Two-year college associate’s degree
High school diploma or GED
9th grade education or less

3. Now talk to the students about the fact that most jobs beyond entry-level require some kind of education or training. They may already be tired of school, but higher education can certainly pay off.

4. At the same time, higher education can be very expensive. It’s a big decision. The next game you have for them to play can help get them thinking about college – choices and costs and financing.

5. Have the students log onto the NEFE site here: Then they will click on “Success Street Game” at the bottom of the page. This brings up a sign-in screen – they should type in their first name and hit start. This brings them to the main menu page of the Games section. They should select the game: “Education: Worth It?”

6. Have the students play the game. In it, they will learn about different college options (ex, state versus private schools), college costs, and financing options. The game is self-explanatory, but as the teacher you should play it yourself BEFORE you teach this lesson, so you are familiar with it. It will likely take students 15 minutes or so to play the game.

7. When all students have completed the game, debrief as a group:

a. Does college cost more or less than you thought it would?
b. Between now and when you graduate when high school, how much money do you think you could save towards college?

c. Thinking about what they’ve been learning by having Economis accounts, ask them what creative ways they might try to raise money for college [invest in long-term CDs, buy some stock/mutual funds now then sell it/them in a few years]

Additional Resource:

Teaching financial literacy to children and teens: A guide for parents and teachers.