I liken education to water. Water gives life. But at what cost?

Have you ever paid money for water? You’ve paid money for something that is free at home?

Let me take you on a field trip to Wal-Mart for a moment. There’s only one item on our shopping list… water. How much does water cost at Wal-Mart? Let me inform you that there is quite a price range for the vital commodity of water.

If you buy the 20oz bottle in the cooler, near YETI ONE GALLON the check-out stand you’d shell out $1.58. I want to use the common denominator of gallons to illustrate a point. At that price we’re paying about $10/gallon. As long as we’re paying $10/gallon we might as well walk back to the “water department” and get the imported S. Pellegrino sparkling natural mineral water. Both about $10/gallon.

As you glance around the water department you notice that you can get a whole gallon of water for just 88 cents! That is not quite half of the cost you were going to pay for your 20oz bottle near the check-out stand. The gallon won’t be cold and is probably more than you wanted, but sounds like a bargain compared to your $10/gallon price.

You dive deeper and see that for 90 cents more (your $1.58 that you were going to pay for your single bottle of water near the check-out stand) you can get 24 bottles (although they are slightly smaller at 17oz). Oh, and they’re not cold. For comparison purposes you’ve just lowered your “price-per-gallon” cost to 76 cents per gallon! Might be a temporary sale, but for now the 24 bottles are even cheaper than a single, one-gallon jug.

So, let’s see where we are on the price-per-gallon scale. Started at $10, then dropped significantly to 88 cents and then finally to 76 cents per gallon. Is that as good as it gets for a commodity you can drive home and get for free? Would you be surprised if I told you there are still two more “drops” in price (the “low price leader”) on our shopping excursion? You never knew it would be so much fun shopping for something that is free at home.

More savings… If you bring your own jug you can get water for 37 cents a gallon near the front of the store from a machine. And the lowest price for water at Wal-Mart is… zero, zilch, nada. Yes, it’s also free if you go to the back and get a drink from the drinking fountain! It might look a little funny if you start filling your jug, but it’s free.

It’s all about packaging, branding and convenience. How do you sell your product? How do you sell higher education? How do you package the educational water you sell? How convenient is it? How much value do you place on your product? How do you package an otherwise unsexy commodity such as education (even free through some platforms)? Can you make learning convenient like the bottle near the check-out stand and appealing like the French imported water all at a Wal-Mart price?