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What does your course really cost?

In this article we uncover the massive hidden cost in undertaking a qualification and how we have saved people thousands of dollars by adding more value to our courses through personalised support, 1-on-1 tuition, recognition of their professional background and more.

 

I can’t help myself. I love a bargain, I love a ‘great deal’. Why pay $19 for shipping when I can pick up from the store? Why pay $37 for an Uber if I can take the bus for $3?

A few years ago, while poring over the specials and the price per kilogram of a packet of flour to save 73 cents I wondered, “is this worth my time?” If my free time could be converted to a dollar value, could I possibly have ‘spent’ more money looking for the cheapest flour than I saved buying the cheapest flour? Is it worth more to get the item shipped, or to take the Uber?

It also got me thinking about the big picture. Can I even put a price on spending an extra few minutes each day with loved ones, or doing the things that bring me and others joy?

 

How much is your time worth?

We can all work out our hourly rate at work. We just divide our total pay by the number of hours we worked to get it.

The way we arrive at the value of our free time however, is a little more interesting.

The value you place on your time is about how much you would pay to save it.

To get an understanding of how much your time is really worth, clearerthinking.org have prepared a powerful free (yay!) tool. It will take 10 minutes (oh…) to complete but I think you will find the results profound, surprising, and more importantly, valuable.

I was shocked with my results and it really made me think about how I spend my time. It gave me some facts and figures and some useful suggestions such as:

  • “It's possible that you're more reluctant than you should be to spend money in order to free up time — for instance, by paying for time-saving services or purchasing time-saving devices.”
  • “Your money/time value suggests that it may be worth it for you to delegate some tasks to paid help from time to time, so that you have more free time at your disposal.”
  • “If you're debating whether to purchase an item worth $X, you should spend much less than 10 minutes making up your mind. If you spend longer, the value of the time you've devoted to deciding whether to buy the item may exceed the value of the item itself!”

If you try ClearerThinking’s tool you’ll be able to put a rough dollar amount on your free time.

Bearing in mind the immeasurable value of earning a qualification you’ll see that the enrolment fee for a course is actually only a fraction of the true cost of completing a qualification. For some people, the enrolment fee may actually become insignificant when stacked up against the true cost of hours spent learning and completing assessments.

 

The value of education

I want to share my thoughts briefly on the value of education. Quality education is more valuable with greater return on investment than many things we spend time and money on.

Having made my career as an educator I am acutely aware that learning is time consuming. Until such time that we can download competence from the Matrix, getting good at something takes time.

One of my favourite authors, economist Malcolm Gladwell gives the 10,000 hour rule. Gladwell says it takes around 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice to achieve true mastery.

 

It takes around 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice to achieve true mastery.

 

Fortunately you don’t have to spend 10 years to get, for example, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. It must be accepted though, before deciding to enrol in a course, that it is going to require a significant investment of your time to achieve it.

There are immeasurable rewards to education, both quantitative (money and benefits) and qualitative rewards. A Diploma qualified person for example is entitled to a much higher rate of pay under most awards than someone with a Certificate III.

I believe qualitative rewards have higher value. For example I think it would be awesome to become fluent in French. Born in Australia I never learnt the language but I have many relatives living in France who barely speak English. When visiting I can bumble my way through a few words and phrases and we laugh and have a great time, but how I yearn to be able to engage in deeper conversation with them. I have many hundreds of hours of learning before I can be considered fluent. While I quite enjoy my (very) slow progress to learning the language, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t fork out significant money if there was a way to become fluent in significantly less time.

As an aside, I always thought it would be super fun to juggle and ride a unicycle (at the same time). I wonder how much I’d be willing to invest to acquire that skill? I’d learn it in secret just to see the look on the faces of my friends, family and coworkers. One day when I bust out the one-wheeler and coloured balls in the SAVE Training office.

 

Time (spent doing a course) is money

I get it. Most of us love a bargain. I clearly do.

The reality of “buying a course” is that the biggest cost by far is not the course fee, it's the time you invest to do the course.

So let’s look at the true cost of a course using the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment as an example.

If you check out our article on how long it takes someone to do a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment you can see that it often takes several hundred hours, depending on experience, to get the qualification.

Let’s take for example a common scenario for our clients, someone who has quite a bit of experience in training but no formal qualification. Let’s say it takes them 300 hours to do the TAE.

Now there are many ways to interpret wage statistics for Australians. I looked at a range of ABS, ATO and Treasury data reported in various places and arrived at a rounded off median annual salary of about $55,000. I used a basic online calculator to come up with a weekly take home pay of around $800 based on the median annual salary. (I needed a figure to work with for the next step so just went with it. Again to get a figure for yourself use the tool at ClearerThinking.org)

I made a whole bunch of assumptions to arrive at an illustrative figure for our example and it told me:

“Your implicit dollar value per hour of free time came to $36.40.”

So here’s the unexpected bit. If it takes someone who values their free time at $36.40 around 300 hours to do the course, it has an implied cost of over $10,000 not including the course fees!

If we look at true course costs from this perspective, the numbers speak for themselves. A saving of a few hundred dollars can be fast consumed with the burden of poor support and lack of individual attention.

We know that our focus on our clients’ needs and unending dedication to personal support saves people countless hours of wasted time by:

  • Working with our people to develop individualised learning plans
  • Spending time at the beginning determining recognition for skills and experience gained
  • Flexible integrated assessment approaches
  • Taking the time to explore opportunities in your workplace that fit with the course requirements and assessments
  • Pairing you up with your own personal tutor and assessor who is with you for the whole journey so you don’t get bounced around a help desk service, having to explain your unique situation to a different person every time
  • Next working day (although usually same day) turnaround time on getting help
  • Five working day turnaround time on assessment marking and feedback
  • Friendly, professional, respectful, conversational style interview-based assessments for many theory components which alone save hours of writing
  • Offering a straightforward RPL process
  • Proactively reaching out to you regularly to keep you motivated
  • Fun, friendly face to face workshops designed to accelerate your completion

Get in touch below if you'd like to learn more about how we can save you thousands of dollars by doing the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAE40116).