SFARC License Exam Classes Poll Results Are In!

Orion, AI6JB

Thank you to everyone who took part in the SFARC License Exam Classes Poll!

The poll was sent to all club members and everyone on the list, whether or not they are a member, for a total of 210 email address.  We received 82 responses which is nearly a 40% response rate.  SurveyMonkey says the results below have a margin of error of 8% which should be close enough for our purposes.

To view a summary of the results, please follow this link:

Here is my take on the results and how we should proceed.  Any additional comments here will be very much appreciated.

1. I would like to take the General License Exam Class this October.  This question tells us about 2/3 of the Club has at least their General License.  We have 7 folks interested in taking the General License Class in October, with another 9 interested in a future class.  We certainly have enough interest within the Club to run a Class in October.

2. I would like to take the Extra License Exam Class this coming January.  This was the surprise question for me!  We have 34 people interested in the Extra Class, 20 of whom want to take this coming January!  The other astonishing thing to note is about half the club already has their Extra.  An Extra class will definitely be held in January.  We will definitely look into holding another class soon after to accommodate the 14 others interested.

3. Would you prefer the license exam classes to be ... 73% of the responses are in favor of a multi-session class devoted to the how and why vs only focusing on studying the test questions.  We will continue to offer classes that go into greater depth to explain the principles and physics behind amateur radio with an over-arching goal to graduate students ready for the exam.

4. How often should the class meet?  49% of the responses favored a once a week in the evening the class.  The next two favored choices were twice a week with 24% of the responses, and weekly on Saturday at 17%.  For the first round of classes, we will structure them as once a week class in the evening.

5. How long should each session be?  2/3 of the responses favored 2 hours tops.  A distance second was 4 hours tops at 12%.  We will go with the majority and keep the classes to 2 hours max.

6. The current price for Non-SFARC Members is $65. This includes the ARRL License Manual, a 40m homebrew end-fed antenna constructed during class, 6 weekly online sessions, 2 in-person labs, and one review session. Please rate your feelings to the following statements ...
82% of the responses agreed or strongly agreed with this statement indicating most everyone agrees a $65 price is an exceptional value and 60% of the responses disagreed or strongly disagreed Ham's wouldn't pay the $65.  However, when it came to increasing the price, 54% neither agreed or disagreed.  For those who chose a side, Agree or Disagree, the Disagrees have it.  Even though a huge majority feels this price is an exceptional value, there does not seem to be a strong consensus to raising the price.  I think the recommendation to the Board should be to not make any changes here.

7. SFARC Member price is $40. This includes the ARRL License Manual, a 40m homebrew end-fed antenna constructed during class, 6 online sessions, 2 in-person labs, and one review session. Members who already have access to the ARRL General License Manual, the price is reduced $25. Members who do not want the 40m End Fed antenna, the price is reduced $15. If a member does not want the manual and the antenna, the price is $0.00. Please rate your feelings to the following statements ...
Again, 82% of the responses agreed the member price is an exceptional value with 65% strongly agreeing!  A slightly higher percentage, 59%, disagreed our members wouldn't pay more.  However, this time there was a clear, 41%, disagreement on charging member more.  There was a smaller, but significant group, 45% who neither Agreed or Disagreed.  While not a mandate, I believe the feeling is to NOT charge members any more than the $40.

On the statement, 'It is important to let members opt out of the manual and antenna ...', 56% agreed, with 35% neither agreeing or disagreeing.  Options seem to be the consensus.

When it comes to charging non-member youth the same price as members, we have strong agreement here, 76%.  This is reflected in the responses to Question 8 with additional comments and suggestions on ways to promote youth involvement.  I think the recommendation to the Board should be that youth should not be charged more than members and they should consider offering a further discount to youth.

8. Do you have any other ideas or suggestions we should consider?  Here are some responses submitted.  This is a partial list.  Flattering comments about the author were not included.  Thank you for the kind words! ...
  • Ham radio has changed greatly over the last 5-10 years. Anything we can do to advance the hobby and keep the membership up should be considered.
  • Hold Q&A sessions on-line in between classes, even if the actual classes are held in-person.  Also, consider what the structure would be if we're still not doing in-person gatherings next year.
  • I am looking for the Extra classes and I would be willing to pay more to help out the youth if they don't have the funds.  What about having weekly classes and a cram session when we get close to the testing dates?  I just received the ARRL book for Extra.  Rich Lewis K6NYC   vitas-rl@...
  • I believe teaching the “why” is very important.  If you understand the “why” you will remember it. 
  • "I doubt there is much interest in the antenna for the extra class. 
  • I would give kids their $ back f they complete the class."
  • I like the idea of sponsorship for youth to get them into the hobby. Upon passing a license exam they are reimbursed the fee to take the class, not for antenna or book.
  • I returned the survey at Orion's urging.  I am not likely to be sitting for any amateur radio exams ever again, so you might want to '86 my answers.
  • "I think this is a great idea for the club and support the effort.
  • I have a erratic schedule which makes it difficult to be apart of a class ,,. 
  • Include additional resources such as YouTube sites, Elmer info, “shack tours” to keep interest high and candidates moving forward.     Lots of competition for free time.
  • Just some perspective: I have my Extra already, but I was more focused on cramming for the test, so I would more use this to "fill in the gaps" and learn *why* things work the way they do, etc.
  • "Make the point that Member fees charged help fun the Club and offset the cost of discounts extended to youth. 
  • Provide links to test practice sites that students can use between online class sessions. Give one or more assignments for students to work on between class sessions and follow up on what they learned."
  • Must be way overboard COVID-19 compliant, zero risk of transmission. No exceptions.
  • Newbie classes...getting equipment set up, antenna building, building a network/DXing.  Been there, done the ham cram thing - need a bit of structure for moving forward.
  • Offer a youth/student price at less than the members price. Maybe even a scholarship for 2-3 people a year.
  • Paying something means making a commitment however  think we should provide the classes for as little as possible to encourage maximum participation.  Do we really need to make money? Maybe some sort of refund or partial refund if they pass the exam? Especially to youth. 
  • post a preliminary schedule for all classes.   Technician class will need to get the word out early so the nonmembers will be able to hear it eventually through word of mouth.
  • Promote new and possibly new young members into the club by holding exam sessions and/or classes and giving them 1 year worth of membership free with the exam session and/or class price.  
  • Provide information on where to get the book so those who wish to study on their own may do so. 
  • Seems like adult technician candidates are not likely to be eligible for the club member price since they are unlikely to to be club members before certifying. Maybe consider some sort of membership price deal for them upon certification.... 
  • suggest free pie for members :)
  • Very important to facilitate _understanding_, not simply _knowledge_ of the test content.  Antenna theory is the most important understanding—because this is where a ham can make the biggest difference in station performance, and where we suffer the most from folklore and myth.  At least 50% emphasis on youth/maker/digital-mode interests, even at the expense of old-timer/DXer/rag-chewer interests.

Again, thank you everyone for taking part in the poll and thank you for your valued comments.  Please feel free to add to this discussion.

Orion, AI6JB