ALEX Lesson Plan


College Cost: A MAJOR Expense!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Samantha Mayweather
System: Montgomery County
School: Montgomery County Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33252


College Cost: A MAJOR Expense!


Students will choose a college based on their career goals and aspirations. In this lesson, students will select a career field, choose a field of study (major), and research college cost. Students will learn how to chart, graph, analyze and present the total cost of college in a spreadsheet.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
BMA (7-8) Computer Essentials
5. Use spreadsheet software to create, save, open, edit, and print a workbook or worksheet.
  • Utilizing formulas for problem solving applicable to a spreadsheet
  • Creating charts to interpret spreadsheet data
  • BMA (7-8) Computer Essentials
    8. Demonstrate use of the Internet in business.
    Examples: research, travel, correspondence, advertisement
  • Identifying misuses of the Internet in business
  • Examples: slamming, spamming, flaming
    BMA (7-8) Computer Essentials
    9. Utilize research results to determine career and entrepreneurial opportunities, responsibilities, and educational and credentialing requirements in entry-level information technology professions.
    BMA (9-12) Business Technology Applications
    6. Utilize spreadsheet features, including formulas, functions, sorting, and filtering data, templates, charts, and graphs in creating, editing, and printing workbooks.
    BMA (9-12) Business Technology Applications
    12. Utilize research results to determine career and entrepreneurial opportunities, responsibilities, and educational and credentialing requirements in commerce and information technology.
  • Determining factors to be considered in developing an effective career plan and procedures for obtaining employment
  • Using terminology commonly associated with commerce and information technology
  • Local/National Standards:


    Primary Learning Objective(s):

    Students will learn how to:

    1. Utilize productivity software (Microsoft Excel) to compare and contrast data (the cost of colleges) using charts and graphs.
    2. Calculate the total cost of college.
    3. Gain a deeper understanding of percentages and fractions through pie charts.
    4. Use charts and graphs to represent data.

    Additional Learning Objective(s):

    This assignment is to elicit students to begin thinking about:

    1. Career choices
    2. Colleges majors
    3. College Expenses
    4. The correlation between data, charts and graphs
     Preparation Information 

    Total Duration:

    Greater than 120 Minutes

    Materials and Resources:

    Student/Teacher Handouts (Attached)

    • Menu Worksheet
    • Career Choice Worksheet

      • 4-Year Out of State College Example
      • 4-Year In state College Example
      • 2-Year Technical College Example
      • Total Comparison Example

    Technology Resources Needed:

    Computer with Internet access, spreadsheet software, Teacher demonstrations with Interactive White Board.


    This lesson should follow a discussion about how students should choose a college based on their career field & college cost. Students should be cognizant of college choices and college majors. They should focus on high demand careers (primarily careers in STEM) and choose college majors and colleges accordingly.

    • In order to complete this assignment successfully students needed to know:

    1. How to use a spreadsheet
    2. About careers in STEM that might interest them
    3. What is a college major
    4. How to calculate total cost-
    5. How to calculate the percent of a number
    6. How to use search engines

    Step 1: Motivation & Introduction

    Begin the lesson by discussing college majors and how to search for a college that has the students’ major. Discuss college cost in terms of in-state and out of state colleges as well as attending a technical college based on the students career choice. You can also discuss attending a two-year college and then transferring to a 4-year university.

    Step 2: Activity

    I.  Complete Career choice Worksheet (handout)

    II.   Format College Expense Data

    III.  Create a Pie Chart in Excel using the following data for each College. All charts should be on a separate sheet; name each sheet and color it. Students should choose one of each college:

    1. 4-year out of State College (Must have student College Major)
    2. 4 year in-state College (Must have student College Major)
    3. Technical College (Must have student College Major)
      1. Tuition-
      2. Course Fees—
      3. Books—
      4. Travel—
      5. Room/Rent—
      6. Meals—  (Handout) Calculate for 1 week and then multiply by 36 to get an annual college cost
      7. Entertainment— Calculate for 1 week and then multiply by 36 to get an annual college cost.
      8. Parking Permit- Type data into Microsoft Excel
    4. All Pie Charts should have:
      1. Title
      2. Category Name
      3. Value
      4. Percentage
      5. Leader lines
      6. Legend

    IV.   Create a bar chart to compare the cost of all (3) colleges  on a separate sheet

    1. The bar chart should have the following:
      1. Title
      2. X-Axis Title (Colleges)
      3. Y-Axis Title (Annual Cost)


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    Assessment Strategies

    Formative Assessment:

    Menu Worksheet (Handout)

    Career Choice Worksheet (Handout)

    Summative Assessment:

    Excel Spreadsheet

    • 3 Pie charts
    • 1 bar chart



    Students can present the college of their choice to the class and use the charts and graphs to explain why they chose that particular college.


    • Re-teach the lesson
    • Decrease the number of colleges to one or two
    • Allow student an extended amount of time


    Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

    Presentation of Material Environment
    Time Demands Materials
    Attention Using Groups and Peers
    Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
    Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.