ASA Blog

When it comes to planning for the future, high school students and families need tools that explore all possible pathways


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» 2020
MARCH 5, 2021

Research shows that today’s students and parents do not have the information and financial planning resources needed to fully explore the many high-quality post-secondary education options available to them. Decision-making is frequently focused on four-year college pathways because they are most prominent in our culture and families do not understand which options lead to careers that make use of students’ interests and aptitudes – or the costs of these programs.

ASA research found that less than one-third of parents agreed strongly with the sentiment, “I have the knowledge I need to guide my child through the application and decision process for post-high school education.” And parents are not satisfied with the advice on financial planning they receive from high school counselors, who are themselves overwhelmed with caseloads of over 450 students on average. With limited access to information and competing time commitments, how are counselors expected to advise on a wide range of postsecondary options, including non-college paths?

Knowing this, it is of no surprise that 60% of high school students we surveyed reported that they had not explored alternatives to a four-year college. When non-four-year college options are not fully known, students defer to what is known. Four-year college should not be the default, and other programs should not simply be “alternative pathways” when they are meaningful options for obtaining career goals.

Students must be empowered to choose a path based on personal interests & aptitudes, but they can only make an informed decision and develop a plan when they know all options.

With high-quality pathways ranging from community college to apprenticeships, credentialing programs to four-year degrees, students need a tool that can help them understand the full cost – and return – of the program they choose. While there are some financial planning tools that help to determine the expected value of a credential, most tools are only equipped to analyze options for four-year college. We need tools that include the multitude of valuable post-secondary education options available, so that all students can find the path that works for them and their goals.

To address this resource gap, ASA is partnering with Edmit to expand financial planning services for non-four-year college options. Edmit will expand its current, SXSW EDU award-winning tool focused on four-year colleges to include career pathways and a broader set of postsecondary education programs, including community colleges.

The digital service will design a highly personalized tool that will calculate the financial implications and highlight the value of these diverse pathways. Through this collaboration, ASA will provide 10,000 high school students unlimited access to Edmit’s learning center and reports that will enable each student to find their best-fit post-secondary path. These resources include access to government and career data, information about qualifications for need-based scholarships, 1:1 advisory services, the additional anticipated financial support from each post-secondary option and the potential financial return for specific careers depending on an individual’s geographic location.

Knowledge truly is power, and when we equip students with the resources to make informed decisions about their future, we’re setting the next generation – and our world – up for success.

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