Size really DOES matter!!

16 July 2009

Sometimes smaller is better.

In the world of scuba instruction, there are three varieties of instructional programs.

First, we have the MegaClasses. These classes are designed to push the maximum amount of students through a program in the least amount of time. There are limits imposed by certification agencies to number of students to instructors, but if you have more than 10 students in your class, it would fall into this category.

In the industry, these are lovingly referred to as “cattle boat operations”…whether or not there’s a boat involved. The idea is to offer lessons at a very low price to get people to try it out. While the price point is a plus, sometimes we need to look at value. It’s the reason there’s a Walmart and a Nordstroms…depending on your needs, you can shop at either place.

The second variety is the Small Classes. These are typically 4 – 6 students per class with the instructional facility offering more class times, rather than overfilling one session. You’ll pay a bit more for this instruction, however you’ll also receive more one on one attention by the instructor and dive staff. Studies show that students from these programs are more likely to continue diving after they finish their courses.

The third option is the Private Class. Ask any instructor, and they’ll tell you that if you’re able to do this, you’ll receive the best training for scuba in this fashion. As a private student, you’ll have the instructors undivided attention. You’ll progress at your own pace and won’t need to worry about holding the other students up…or waiting for the slowest one in the class. Often, if two people are looking to do a private course together, there is a discount for a semi-private class.

When learning to scuba dive, you are learning skills designed to help you survive in an environment not conducive to human life. These skills are essential for…well…keeping you alive. There are things in the world you should look for a bargain on…and then there are things you should look to a professional for.

Make sure your instructor is a full time professional instructor, not a hobby instructor. If you were going in for heart surgery, you’d want a surgeon who practiced full time, not a few times each year, right? Once again…this is your life support for underwater exploration. It’s ok to have a pizza delivery guy who is moonlighting from his retail job during the day…but do you really want a scuba instructor who just does it on the side?

Sometimes the “right way” is a little more money and a little more time. Scuba allows you to enter a world few will ever see. Thorough training is required to view it safely and confidently. Choose your training instructor wisely and you’ll have a splendid underwater experience.