One frustrating aspect of attending almost any postsecondary institution is the cost of textbooks. When looking up book price information, the results can be shocking. Who pays $100 or more for a textbook? The answer is college students.
Some people decide that the textbook is not worth spending hard-earned money on and simply choose not to buy it. Others feel obligated to purchase the textbook but never even open it during the semester. I’m going to discuss some money-saving tips and the pros and cons of going without the book.
The great thing about books is that they can be reused. The shiny, pretty, new copy of the text may look nice, but it also will probably cost more. Many college bookstores offer used books at a discounted price. While these books may be a bit worn, they may contain student notes from previous years, especially highlighted passages of the text. These highlighted sections may or may not prove helpful and should not be completely relied on, but it gives you an idea of what was important in at least one instructor’s class. Some towns also have discount textbook stores that can help save some cash. And there’s purchasing on the internet from sites like eBay or Amazon. The thing with that is that you have to enter payment information online, and that always requires caution.
Regardless of the way you purchase your textbook, it becomes yours. You can write in it, get grease stains on it, etc. Depending on the class the book is for, you might consider keeping your book for future reference. If you’re a psychology major and you’re taking a general psychology class, it might not hurt to hold on to that book for the information it provides. Even if your major and the book’s subject matter are unrelated (Example: music major and statistics book), you might decide to keep it anyway! Maybe you found it interesting or see a future use for it.
And then again, maybe you want to get rid of this book. Well, depending on your bookstore’s policies, you can sell your book back to the college bookstore. Sometimes, they will require you to have purchased the book in their store and present a receipt. Other bookstores will simply buy back books, or you can take it to a local discount textbook store. Then another student with a tight budget can enjoy the lower price of a used textbook.
Renting textbooks can also help save some money. Many college bookstores offer this option to students. A student will typically bring the book up to the cashier, sign a rental agreement, pay the amount to rent, and receive a receipt with the return date. Renting and using prices may be very similar or vastly different. You can also rent books online through sites like Barnes and Noble. Again, this requires monetary transactions through the internet, so if you don’t want to risk it, it should be pretty simple to rent from the bookstore. Plus, you won’t have to worry about shipping the book back on time.
So there’s book that you’re supposed to buy. The eighth edition, which is what’s required, is like $60. However, you found a slightly beat-up copy of the seventh edition on eBay for a buck. What to do, what to do. Some editions only have slight differences, but it’s a good idea to e-mail your instructor and ask if the previous edition will be suitable for his or her class.
“I don’t need the book.”
In some classes, this may be true. However, others require you to have the textbook, even if there are few assignments that utilize it. The textbook is your reference for the class. This is not high school, where you are told to read pages 30-72, copy the words in bold print, and answer all the questions at the end of the section review during classtime. Your instructor might give you optional assignments that he or she will not collect for a grade but can be beneficial in your learning. And that’s what you’re there and paying the money for, right? To learn?
I personally love having the textbook. Skimming through the text and taking some reading notes has helped me tremendously in learning and understanding key concepts (and minute details) that have appeared on the test. If your instructor says that test material will come from both the lecture and the textbook, it’s a good idea to at least skim the text. I cannot just scrape by without at least partially cracking the text. The problem I think many college students face is that they didn’t need or didn’t care about the text in high school, so they don’t think they need it in college as long as they pay attention in class. Don’t get me wrong: paying attention in class is incredibly important. But the text offers information that your instructor doesn’t have time to delve into during lecture.
At college campuses everywhere, you will probably hear students bragging about how they “Didn’t even study for the econ test and passed with a 97%” or how they “never opened the textbook for that science class; it was a total waste of money.” And while we have all experienced something like this before, this is not a great habit to get into. It’s a boring waste of time and money to go to school and learn nothing except how to scrape by in this world.
Can you scrape by? Maybe. I usually can’t. I need that book. I want that book–I want that information at my fingertips. I at least want the option of having the textbook as a resource.
So whether you buy or rent and read or skim, textbooks are a great resource for college students, especially in boosting understanding of class material. If you get bored this summer, do a little comparative shopping for your textbooks!