Written By: A. Michelle Wright and Matthew M. Ross
The decision to attend college is a question of human capital investment, yet resources to help practitioners frame human capital investment decisions remain elusive and few include the “gold standard” of finance: net present value (NPV). Can one discuss human capital investment with an average adolescent using a traditional NPV approach? Motivated by this question, we presented 10 barriers to maximizing education–career NPV (e.g., clarity of costs, immature adolescent brains, individual discount rates). We outline an iterative, research-based approach to education–career investment, including framing the conversation, calculating paired NPVs, and structuring the decision. This multistep framework leverages practitioner expertise to help adolescents consider important lifelong financial wellness implications of human capital investment.