How universities stack the value

I see a lot of online marketers saying “$20,000 for university is a total waste of money. You don’t learn anything. Buy my course for $2,000 instead.” Ignoring the obvious bias they have, it is worth considering why universities still manage to sell their courses and what we can learn from it.

University is a product

When it comes down to it, universities are selling a course. And they are expensive. £9,000 per year in the UK and way more in the US. But university admissions are not going down. Tuition fees are not putting people off. Nearly half of people in the UK will go to university.

On the flip side, you have something like Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch programme. It costs over $2,000. I am going to use ZTL as an example, as Sethi is a classic case of what I am talking about, but many other marketers are saying the same things: university is pointless, you need to go to the school of life / hard knocks / whatever.

A common tactic is to compare their info product against a university degree, claiming that their course is more relevant and far cheaper.

But universities stack the value

Where this falls down, though, is that universities are doing something that professional marketers do all of the time: stack the value. They punch so much value into a degree that you would have to be stupid not to buy it.

Universities essentially offer the best info product ever. Here is how. Again, I will compare it to Sethi’s course, but I am not trying to specifically pick on him, lots of marketers are doing the same thing.

The core offer

Your contact time at university depends on your course. Some have more, some have less. I had around 20 hours a week, but I know some history students had 10. Let’s average it out to 15. The academic year is quite short, so let’s say 30 weeks. That is 450 hours of contact time.

That is a lot. This is real in person lecturing and at a good university you are getting it from the leading researchers around the world.

When you do Zero To Launch you get pre-recorded content from Sethi. It’s not interactive and you cannot ask questions. And you do not get 450 hours of it.

But what, there’s more

You also get assigned a personal tutor and get to meet with them for an hour per week. That is 30 hours of consulting per year.

Mike Dillard brags about charging $2,500 per hour for consulting. I’m not sure how much Ramit Sethi charges for his time, but I imagine it’s a lot. In fact, this alone will probably cover the entire value of your tuition fees, even in the US.

Bonus 1: Facilities

You have signed up for an info product and they have made a custom user area to watch the videos in. Great.

My university had two 24-hour computer labs. And access to the White Rose supercomputer grid. And that was just for the computing students. We had labs, including an underground bombproof one for the chemists, lasers, psychology labs, a driving simulator, 3D printers, a selection of theatres for the drama students, etc, etc. Stuff you just cannot get access to elsewhere without a massive amount of money.

Bonus 2: Libraries

Your info product comes with downloadable PDF notes. Cool.

My university has seven libraries, not counting the departmental-run specialist libraries. They have over 2,000,000 items in their collections. And their computer systems get you unlimited free access to thousands of research journals that you would otherwise be paying $30 per article to access. Saving you thousands of pounds right there.

Bonus 3: Community

Your info product comes with a Facebook group. Genuinely useful.

But it doesn’t compare to being dropped into a group of 100-150 peers, all as passionate about the topic as you are. Just turning up to university gets you surrounded by clever people. There is a reason that Google, Facebook and Microsoft all came out of universities: clever people met there and founded companies together. It’s the perfect melting pot for mastermind groups.

Bonus 4: Support

In case you were not already convinced, universities also come with athletics facilities (free or subsidies), a student’s union (discount beer), physical and mental health services, careers advice, and many other student services.

What does it add up to?

Feature Value
450 hours of lectures, which is like attending a conference, which might provide 15 hours of talks for $2,000, but 30 times over. $60,000
30 hours of coaching at $2,000 per hour $60,000
Access to specialist labs and equipment $10,000
Access to academic libraries and journals $2,000
Mastermind group of peers $5,000
An endless array of pastoral support, benefits and other facilities $5,000
Total value $142,000

Conclusion

The reason that people buy online marketing programmes at $1,500 per time, rather than a $10 eBook, is because these courses stack so much value that they make it worth it.

The reason universities can and do charge ten times more than this is because they stack the value even more: to the point where it simply incomparible to anything else.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am and is filed under Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.