4 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a Textbook for Class

By Alicia Geigel on March 2, 2018

Upon walking into a new class for the first time, there are a few expectations that you anticipate: new friends, new curriculum, and the dreaded new textbooks. Typically, when you start a new course, you get a syllabus or course outline from your professor that details the projects, class schedule, class standards/expectations, and required textbooks for the class. For many students (myself included), reading over the book list for the semester can be discouraging, as the prices for textbooks are astronomically high and typically out of your budget.

Despite this, most college students feel that they do not have a choice and in many cases, end up spending large amounts of money on textbooks that they may or may not need for a few short months. Students are straying away from this necessary evil, however. According to Libby Nelson of Vox, College Board estimates that students will budget $1,200 per year for books and supplies. Despite this, Nelson notes that student spending is not increasing at the same rate as pricing. Rather, a majority of students spend on average $638 per year on course materials, nearly half the College Board estimate.

While textbook prices are increasing and money in your wallet may slowly be disappearing, in most cases, you do not even have to worry about purchasing a textbook for classes for many reasons. Are you a college student trying to save money this semester? Are you a broke college student that doesn’t have the money to afford large purchases like textbooks? Looking for reasonable alternatives to purchasing textbooks for class and reasons why you shouldn’t have to fork up all your money? Check out my four reasons not to buy textbooks and alternatives below!

books, textbook, paper, text

Image via Pexels

1. Feel Out Your Class: Before you even consider handing over $100 to your college bookstore for textbooks, get a decent grasp of class expectations, get to know your professor, and be active and attentive in your class for the first week or so.

Doing this will help you figure out if the course is one you plan on staying in or one you are going to drop the second you get a chance. It is so important to do this because ultimately, you don’t want to buy a textbook right away just to end up dropping the course a few days later. Do yourself a favor and take my advice on this one- you won’t regret it!

2. Avoid the Ghost Book: You may have read this second bullet and thought to yourself, “what is a ghost book?” What I mean by this is, there is sometimes a phenomenon that occurs in college classes where professors require you to purchase books but throughout the entirety of the semester, will neither use it or even reference it once- hence, “ghost book” get it?

It’s not bad that some professors don’t use a textbook; some may work using videos and online articles while others use PowerPoint presentations- but this shouldn’t mean that you have to buy a textbook they require if it will not be used. If you have concerns, pay attention to how your professor teaches, what material he/she uses, and even approach them on what materials will be needed for the class to get an absolute answer.

textbook, books, stack, school

Image via Pixabay

3. Rent, Rent, Rent: Throughout my four years as a college student, renting textbooks have been my saving grace. Renting textbooks for class is a great way to not only save money but its also a way to avoid permanently buying a book you will never use again. Sites like Amazon and Chegg are the ones I use the most, as their prices are typically way better than what college bookstores offer.

I personally like Chegg because in most cases, it has almost any textbook you would imagine and their prices are just a tad lower than Amazon. Another great option when renting textbooks is that you can even rent e-textbooks, making it even easier to obtain your book- there’s no lugging around a big textbook and you can access it from just about any electronic device!

4. Check Online: Listen, I am a firm believer in the power of the internet. You can find just about anything you want and more on the internet. You’re probably pondering sarcastically, “no, really Alicia?” Yes, really.

I stated earlier that renting textbooks has been my saving grace throughout college, but what I have failed to mention (which I am addressing now) is that full and free PDFs of textbooks online have been an even bigger saving grace for me. Number one, you just found your entire required textbook online for free! I mean how can you beat that? For this, just Google search your textbook name with its author and edition and “PDF” next to it to open up a whole new wonderful world for you!

As textbook prices continue to rise, more and more college students aren’t (literally) buying into the textbook hype. According to a survey conducted by The U.S. Public Interest Research Group and referenced by Tyler Kingkade of the Huffington Post, “65 percent of college students had at some point decided against buying a college textbook due to its high price.” The majority of students have spoken and they are saying “Sayonara” to overpriced textbooks and “Hello” to a world of more affordable and accessible ones. Have I convinced you yet?

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
social justice advocate, avid lover of 90s fashion, the proud mama of a yorkie named "nugget", feminist, body positive, weight trainer in progress, classic rock fanatic, and reality TV addict! if you want to learn more about me, visit my profile and check out my articles!

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