1. MOOC Certificates
Most MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on the big platforms, such as Coursera and edX, do not cost anything to audit. However, some providers of online business education require a fee for access to quizzes and assignments and for a certificate of completion. Typically these cost between $40 and $150.
Setting aside some funds for certificates makes sense for a few reasons:
- First, they offer proof of your perseverance and professionalism. A certificate proves that you are a determined go-getter who will invest time and money acquiring business acumen.
- Second, they strengthen your determination because they provide motivation to stay the course. Behavioral economists call it “loss aversion.” It turns out that we dislike losing even more than we enjoy winning. Hence, we will more likely complete a course that we’ve paid for than one that didn’t cost us a nickel.
- Third, it can serve as a tangible reminder that you are making progress toward your goals.
2. Specialized Content
While you can take many courses without dipping into your scholarship fund, some providers do charge fees for courses. Often, skills-focused courses taught by industry experts are available only to fee-paying students. The fees can range from under $10 to over $1,000. You will probably want to invest in such courses as you progress with your business education and begin to concentrate your time and resources on the area of expertise you want to develop.
Most courses assign required reading or suggest supplemental books on the subject. Usually, these readings are provided as downloadable documents and are included with the course. The good news is that most MOOCs do not require you to purchase pricey textbooks, which can cost over $100 apiece. However, you would be wise to supplement your classroom education with books. Imagine that you are building a business library that not only gives you immediate knowledge but also allows you to refresh your learning later in your career.
4. Coaching, Mentorship, and Networking
We will spend much more time throughout this book discussing how to replicate the in-person components of a business education. For now, suffice it to say that coaches, mentors, and a strong professional network can play a major role in the development of your career. These services can add a significant amount of money to the cost of a self-directed business education. For example, the services of an executive coach can run over $150 per hour. Use such resources sparingly, perhaps setting aside $500 for coaching, networking, and mentoring services.
Travel, particularly international travel, can give students in traditional business school programs a valuable global perspective. Of course, international travel can cost a pretty penny. Consider the business benefits of any trip you take to a foreign country. Planning a surfing adventure in Costa Rica? Combine it with a few weeks helping young Costa Rican entrepreneurs develop their business plans.
If you decide to include international travel in your curriculum you will need to beef up your scholarship fund by at least $3,000 to cover airfare, accommodations, and meals during your international experience. We will look more closely at the benefits of international travel in Chapter 9 [Don’t Pay For Your MBA].