Eight Websites to Educate High Schoolers About College

High school students need a dose of reality about higher education choices.

By Eliana Osborn


You might be a new teacher, fresh out of college, or maybe you’ve been in front of the classroom for decades; your own college experience is a distant memory. Either way, you are probably aware that every year, college tuition costs are skyrocketing; rising much faster than inflation. The average price for a year at a state school as a resident was more than $20,000 last year, while the bill for private universities more than doubles that. 

For a high school student excited about the next stage of education, it seems depressing to think about cost. Those with stellar academic records want to get into the biggest, most prestigious universities. No teacher wants to stomp on their pupils' dreams, but bringing up finance and graduation issues before young people are on their own is a way to help them ultimately be successful.

Read on for some resources you can use to lead discussions to help students consider smart choices for their college education.

Websites to Aid in Making the Right College Choice

Just because you love history, or modern dance, doesn’t mean you want to get a degree in it. While some people recommend taking the time to explore a variety of courses before settling on a major, every class taken costs money. Having some idea of what one wants to study, and what a degree in that field will enable one to do just makes sense. Suggest that your high schoolers take some time to peruse these websites.

1. What’s A Degree WorthA report on nearly every major you can think of, giving average earnings information from recent graduates.

2. Unemployment Rates by MajorAn extensive table from the Wall Street Journal, analyzing unemployment and earnings data for myriad majors.

3. Does Your Major Matter?Forbes magazine article giving some hope to those interested in the humanities who may be tired of hearing that they’ll never be able to get a job.

What College Really Costs

Tuition is the biggest chunk of higher education expenses, but unfortunately it is only the beginning. Even if scholars continue living with parents; fees, books, transportation, and equipment all add to the bill.  

4. Total CostA CNN calculator for easy comparison of costs of different schools. Simply choose the state or the name of a school you are interested in for a quick summary of the total cost.

5. Hidden FeesWith dozens of different fees, non-tuition costs are a sneaky way for institutions to increase the bill without pupils really recognizing it. Read this Pro Publica piece for a wake-up call about how important it is to be informed about total price.

6. Cost TransparencyIf potential scholars are confused about aid and loans offered and factored into a cost worksheet from a university, this federally maintained website can be a life saver. Other features include a way to search for the best value depending on one's field of interest, finding out about campus safety, and a host of other features. 

Paying for Higher Education

Once one has a plan for what to study in college, an acceptance letter in-hand, and an understanding of how much it will cost; How does one make it all come together? 

7. Ways to Save on CostsThis slide show from US New and World Report highlights ways to keep your expenses down.

8. Money OptionsAlso from US News and World Report, this site is a treasure trove of resources about scholarships, grants, and nontraditional means of figuring out creative ways to pay for schooling.

As the high school years wane, take the time to discuss higher education options with your pupils. Traditional colleges and universities are a wonderful way to begin the journey to a fulfilling career. Consider taking some time with your classes to investigate colleges, majors, and the financial ramifications of choosing to further one's education at an institution for higher learning.