Buying Education — How Ya Like Them Apples?
A friend of mine (we’ll call them Chris) was telling me about a recent grocery trip to the local member warehouse. Their spouse (who usually does the shopping) was out of town, so they were making their way through the store with the shopping list tightly clutched.
On the list was a bag of apples, and sure enough there was a sample stand with a friendly clerk giving away apple slices. After a pleasant tasting session and assurances from the clerk that their own kids “loved” those apples, Chris quickly grabbed a bag.
A couple of aisles later, while coincidentally on the aisle with all of the apples, Chris noticed one of the apples in their bag looked pretty bruised and decided to replace it. Only then did Chris’ realize a big mistake.
The bag of apples Chris was “sold” happened to be over $9, yet on this same aisle were at least half a dozen other types of apples with costs ranging from $3 to $5 a bag. Needless to say, the response was a mix of both anger and a little shame. As Chris shared with me, being an infrequent apple buyer meant having no idea what a bag of apples was even supposed to cost!
$9 seemed like it might be high, or it might be low, but there wasn’t any context provided by the clerk (not that it should have been) as to what a decent tasting apple should cost by comparison. If the apple Chris tasted was fantastic, how would they know by comparison vs. a variety that was $7 or $5 or even $3 a bag?
The reason I’m sharing this is because it is the same thing that the average working professional is dealing with when “shopping” for a degree program. Most people simple don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to buying education, and for good reason – we hardly ever do it!
Should an online bachelor’s degree cost $75k? If I see one that’s $35k does that mean it’s ½ as good? What about a Master’s in a high-demand discipline? The range of costs for a Master’s in Health Care Informatics ranges from $17k to $80,000 with little difference in brand recognition or curriculum.
With apples unfortunately it’s hard to know the difference without buying and tasting. With a college degree a prospective student also has to do the hard work, but luckily the research can all be done ahead of time. When we research and interview schools we’re looking at over 40 different variables, so there’s plenty to choose from. Knowing the right questions to ask, comparing the right things side by side (apples to apples!) and understanding YOUR priorities around the features and benefits can make a massive difference in terms of the ROI of a degree.
Sometimes just the right apple can be one you’ve never heard of (Alkmene apple anyone?), and the perfect degree program can be found with a little elbow grease.
Interested in having a guide who can help find the perfect online degree for your specific interests and needs? Check out how ClearDegree can find your shiny apple.