Learning to Dive – On Line or In The Northern Virginia Dive Center?
Once you make the decision to learn to scuba dive then you have to decide where to take these lessons? There are a lot of reputable Dive Centers in Northern, Virginia, where my Dive Center is located. How do you find them and once you find them how do you decide which to patronize? Last week we discussed selecting your Dive Center now we will add to that selecting the type of course to take: On Line Training vs In The Classroom Scuba Training.
SELECTING THE DIVE CENTER:
Your On Line Search: Just as we discussed last week we need to start by selecting which Dive Center to associate with. I live in Alexandria, Virginia so I would start by doing an on line search for any of the following: Dive Center, Alexandria, VA, Dive Lessons Alexandria, Virginia, Dive Classes Alexandria, Virginia, Dive Shop, Alexandria VA or even Scuba Certification Alexandria, VA. Any of these should show several local Dive Centers. Since PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors is the largest of the many certification agencies I would start by looking for the various PADI Dive Centers. PADI ranks their Dive Centers by the depth (no pun intended) of the services that each Dive Center offers. The PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Center is the highest rating so I would look to see if any of these are listed.
Evaluating the various Dive Centers: Once you find a few start by looking at their webpages. Don’t go by how flashy the webpage is but by how informative it is. Everything should be spelled out in an easy to navigate and an easy to understand format. Look to see if the prices for the Open Water or Beginner Certification are listed. No one can list all of their prices but since the Open Water Course is the most common one, the prices and schedule for that should be clear. They should be very clear on what is involved in getting certified to Scuba Dive. Everything that is included and all prices for not included items should also be listed. Does their schedule and location fit your needs?
The Complete Dive Center: The last thing to look for is whether or not the dive center is complete. Do they offer all levels of scuba diving education? Do they offer Scuba Equipment. Do they have major lines of equipment. Do they offer service for what they sell? Does the Dive Center have a Scuba Diving Travel Program? Do they have both group trips and do they offer to assist you in booking your own trips should your schedule not match the Dive Centers. These are all things that you would want from your local dive center.
ON LINE or IN THE DIVE CENTER CLASSES:
Once you select the Dive Center that you want to affiliate with you need to decide what format of course to take. Today, in this modern world, many people like to do things on line whenever they can. In fact you did just that to help select the Dive Center. There are advantages to this and there are definitely disadvantages as well.
On Line Scuba Courses: The advantages are that they are more convenient. You can take them when ever you want and where ever you want. They are great to do if you are traveling as they help fill those long hours when you are not working. However, there are some drawbacks as well. Even though you can complete your classroom on line you still need to affiliate with a Dive Center to complete the pool sessions and the four open water dives. On Line Scuba Courses tend to be more expensive then in the classroom Scuba Courses. On Line courses are written for a wide range of divers and a very wide range of diving locations. Therefore they tend to be very general in their course content. Since you take them on your own they are far less social then the traditional classroom Scuba Classes.
Traditional Classroom Scuba Courses: The traditional course is most often less expensive then the On Line Course and while perhaps less convenient, (you take them when they are offered) the traditional course is much more personal. The Instructors will work with you directly and answer any questions that you might have. The traditional Classroom Scuba Course also has you specifically in mind. While you cover the same material that is covered in the On Line Scuba Course, your Scuba Instructor will personalize the course material to fit you. He or she will talk specifically about you, where you plan to dive and how it relates to you. The Instructor you have in the classroom is usually the same one you have in the pool and again in Open Water. It is very nice to know each other and it makes for a more enjoyable course.
Your Scuba Instructor can also help you select any scuba diving equipment that you might want or need. Your Instructor knows much more about Scuba Equipment and Scuba Travel opportunities. You Instructor can help steer you in the right direction on these. The traditional Scuba Course is also a great social opportunity. You will meet several other new divers with whom you have much in common. In fact that is how I met my wife – in the Open Water Scuba Course.
ON LINE CONTINUING DIVER EDUCATION COURSES:
There are a number of different Continuing Education Scuba Courses that are also available On Line. Like the Open Water course the big advantage to taking the classroom on line is the convenience. The down side is that it is more expensive. Some courses like the Advanced Open Water course have several options. Before taking it on line be sure and speak to the local dive center and find out what dives they want you to sign up for on line. Otherwise you may still have to repeat part of the course in the traditional manner.
Now that you are familiar with what is involved in getting started. It is time to take the plunge. Sign up for that Scuba Course, get certified, and go on that next great Aquatic Adventure