Ahh, the start of a semester: a fresh beginning, rejuvenated enthusiasm, and then there is tuition payments and the cost of books. The school store is hopping with activity with lines leading to the back of the store, students with their stacks of books, and the ever-prominent look of uneasiness on their faces as they hand over their credit cards.
As a college student funding my own education, I always find the beginning of a semester to be the most frustrating in terms of the expenses. I spend thousands of dollars out of pocket on tuition only to spend even more in the cost of college textbooks. The Washington Post recorded that students at four-year schools spent an average of about $900 in books and supplies between 2003-2004, and the prices have skyrocketed from there.
Even after purchasing all the textbooks, some of them will still go unused. Later, when you go to sell them back, you only get a fraction of the original cost. This past week I sold six of my textbooks to a textbook van found on campus for a whopping $15.
Some professors understand a student’s frustration with outrageous textbook prices and don’t require a textbook or are at least lenient on the editions you purchase (older editions are cheaper). Dr. Hammond from Utah Valley state college attracted attention for opting against the use of textbooks in his class stating, “I think its immoral because of the cost.”
However, I am confident that we have all had a professor or two who insists that we purchase the latest textbook, and what’s worse, sometimes we are required to buy multiple textbooks. One must also consider that some books for majors such as accounting are much more expensive than those for education. Should a student aspiring to be an accountant essentially be punished with more fees just because that is the major they desire? I think not.
Not all college students have the benefit of getting money from their parents to cover school expenses. I balance a job and school to pay all of my bills. It is bothersome to me that after students pay their tuition, most have to worry about how to afford textbooks for their classes. But is there any way a solution to this expensive situation can be reached? Possibly. However, the solution may not be in favor of the publishers.
With access to the Internet students have the availability to delve into a treasure trove of books or to try to find their textbooks at a cheaper price. Internet websites such as Chegg.com have been my knight in shining armor, allowing me to rent my textbooks for a semester at a reduced price. Though it is still expensive, it is better than the original price. For some the price of even renting textbooks is still too costly and some students are taking the chance of not purchasing a textbook at all. Not purchasing a textbook is risky business, the ultimate risk being how it will impact your grade.
Is it insane to consider that universities should look at including textbooks in their tuition cost? Can a happy medium be reached between universities and students? The bottom line is that higher education, which is fundamental in today’s society, has become too expensive, and in turn becoming unreachable for many. Something must change to get more individuals back in the classroom at reasonable costs.