collegeWhat are you going to do after high school? Are you going to go to college? If so, where are you going to go? High school seniors answer these questions and many more every year. But, when making this decision, it becomes important to consider what is important. What important factors must we consider? What are we willing to give up when we make the decision? You will consider these questions and others related to them in this lesson. Here are some things to think about when making your decision on what to do after high school.

  • What do you like to do on a Friday night? Be with friends, go to movies, do homework?
  • What is important to you when you go out? How expensive is it, is it fun, how much time will it take?
  • You can decide where to go to college or where to work in the same way you can decide what to do on a Friday night.
  • Use the information you gain from the web site about various universities and use the PACED grid provided.


After high school you will be faced with the task of either working or going to college. In order for you to decide what to do, you will need not only consider your alternatives, but what you will be giving up when you make your decision. Remember, every choice involves a cost, and it isn't always a monetary cost. Decisions also involve opportunity costs. Opportunity cost is defined as the 'next best' alternative to what you choose. What are some opportunity costs associated with choosing to attend college? What might your next best alternative be? For example, if you choose college, you cannot work full-time and therefore cannot earn full-time wages. Thus the 'opportunity cost' of your decision is the foregone income you could have earned had you not chosen to attend college. These are important things to consider when you evaluate your alternatives.


  1. What would you like to do after high school? Do you want to go to college? Or, would you rather work? Whatever you decide to do, this will be your problem. Identify your problem in the appropriate space provided in the PACED grid.
  2. Use the web sites , 2003 Colleges, College Scholarships, and Financial Aid Page , or the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and select several occupations or schools; then use these occupations or schools as alternatives. List your selections in the column labeled 'alternatives' on the left side of the PACED grid. labor Individual college and university sites will also help you to find the information they need to fill out the PACED grid. Examples include the University of Kansas , the University of Missouri , Harvard , the University of Washington , etc.
  3. What do you consider to be important as you determine what you would like to do after high school? Examples could include but aren't limited to: cost, location, job outlook, etc. List these criteria in the appropriate place along the top of the chart.
  4. Next, how important are these criteria? Weight each criterion on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being more important. You may have more than one criterion with each weighting.
  5. Evaluate the alternatives based on the criteria listed across the top. If the alternative meets a criterion listed across the top, give it a plus. If it doesn't, give it a minus. Then transfer down the weighting of the criterion you are using--to make it a + or - 4 for example. When you are done, add up each row.
  6. The alternative with the highest score is your choice. The second highest scoring alternative is your opportunity cost. If you have more than one alternative with the same, highest score, you must come up with an alternative criteria that would help you decide between the two.


After you have gone through the PACED process you should have come up with an obvious choice and an opportunity cost for that choice. Remember, the opportunity cost is the next best alternative. You gave up your opportunity cost when you decided on your first choice.


Answer the following question (you may work by yourself or with a partner):

  1. What was your choice?
  2. Were you surprised by that choice?
  3. Did you have two choices come out on top? If so, what criteria did you come up with that differentiated between the two?
  4. What choice made up your opportunity cost?
  5. What other decision have you had to make that you could use the PACED grip to assist you with?


Consider a decision you've made in past or anticipate one you may have to make in the future. Describe the problem and the decision associated with it to your teacher. Use the PACED grid to help you come to a conclusion.