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My OW class was originally five people, but three people dropped out throughout (two because of not being able to equalize properly, another because the visibility for our first OW dive was pretty murky). There were two people in my AOW class and three people in my Rescue class.
I like smaller classes much better (though I have no reference) because of more personal time with the instructor to fix problems/habits. Also, 11 other classmates would be a little excessive if there was not either another instructor or a couple of divemasters. I always heard that 5-6 students per instructor and divemaster was an ideal maximum.
When I learned to dive, it was just me and my dive buddy--my daughter. Since then, the only group classes I've ever had were a couple of tech courses and my Instructor course. It just sort of happened that way--I didn't go out looking for private instruction. However, I became convinced that one-on-one classes or classes with only my dive buddy (Rescue, for example), are much more productive in terms of coaching the student to hone skills. Since becoming an instructor, I have sometimes had groups of three students, but that is my absolute limit. If I have more than three, I get another instructor to team teach with me.
I inly had myself and my wife in my ow padi class at a lds. We did the online training and then 2 days of pool training and a weekend of ow dives.
My sdi advanced had 4 students. We did virtually no classroom instruction, 1 pool dive, and 4 boat dives. It was a groupon. I do not think the instruction was adequate to have any sort of certification. I dont blame groupon or
Sdi, i blame the dive shop.
I got really lucky. There was only me and one other person who dropped out after the first pool session due to not being able to equalize. My instructor was the shop owner, then in between the Confined water and the OW, I went back a lot to stay fresh and get additional practice. I got paired up with AI and some DM for the additional skill practice and tagged along on a few of the other classes which usually maxed out at 4 divers or so.
I was lucky - I was one to one for all the class room lessons and the confined water lessons - on the open water lessons and checkouts most were one to one but there were a max of six people including the instructor on some, although I was the only student - the others were dive centre staff and experienced divers who came along for a dive. - P
“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.” Edward Whymper,
- on climbing the Matterhorn, but equally applicable to diving.
My OW class was two. Checkouts were myself and the instructor after the other student canceled due to some dumb crap about being in a wedding. I told her don't bother as it likely would not last any way and she could go to her friends second one. My AOW was three. Rescue I think 4 as I look back, DM one, and Instructor two but a third came from another part of the state for the exams. I will not take more than 4 for OW and two for AOW. I might do three but the diver really has to prove they are on top of their game to be accepted.
I also like the sound of your class set up. Mine is similar with 2 sessions per week for 6-8 weeks. One classroom and one pool. Gives students time to absorb the material and not feel rushed. Being an SEI instructor by standards we have more that we put in our OW classes that necessitates the longer time. We are actually discouraged from doing classes where stuff is crammed in. Last update we were told to try and convince those looking for shorter classes to try our system or suggest they go elsewhere.
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My OW class had 4 students for classroom/pool sessions all between the ages of 20-25, it was one session a week for 6 weeks. Checkouts had somewhere around 15, but 3 didn't complete for various reasons. AOW had 4. Rescue had 8 with 2 instructors (one of whom was apparently more well liked than the other, based on how the class divided during pool sessions). The only class I've had one on one was Nitrox, online then one-on-one with the instructor to analyze tanks.