Opinion: College students shouldn’t have to buy their books


Heather Gann, Staff Columnist

The first semester has officially begun, and with it comes a mind-boggling list of literature and access codes required for the classes that already cost thousands of dollars by themselves. After looking over the seven-book shopping list required for just one of my four classes, I began to ask myself: Why are we as students required to buy all of these overpriced texts that the professors deem necessary? I know that for me personally, the first month of classes is a desperate web scavenger hunt for the cheapest possible option for all of my needed materials. As a full-time student, I don’t have $200 to spare on the study of something-ology text that I will never in this lifetime look at again. Added to this stress are the normal trials of starting new classes and completing homework within the deadline. This is likely done with no book, because as every upperclassman will tell you, you never buy the book before you actually attend the class. This is a ridiculous premise that speaks to the state of college culture in America. This idea promotes unpreparedness and halfhearted, rushed work, because by the time you’ve figured out whether or not you actually need the text and bought it or ordered it, the first homework is usually due. On the opposing side, nothing is more irritating than purchasing a book the syllabus said you needed, and then showing up to your first class and having the professor inform you that you don’t actually need that text or it being very obvious that you will never use it.

So what is a student to do in a situation that will amount in anxiety, poorly completed work or a monetary loss they can’t really afford? My answer to this proposition is simple: universities should provide students with the required texts for their classes. This would get rid of any doubt about what texts will actually be used, because colleges aren’t going to waste their funds on something unnecessary. Georgia’s state university system is one of many that employ a free online textbook program called Affordable Learning Georgia. With this program they have saved students more than $31 million in textbook costs. For some students, these textbook costs can be the difference between being able to afford college or not. I know from experience that monetary factors are the reason most individuals don’t receive a college education. Out of my own graduating class, less than half of the honors students attended a four-year university. When asked what was holding them back, the answer was almost always the money. I know some may argue that the added cost of this textbook program would make the school more expensive, but this is not so. Georgia State University costs in-state students an average of around $15,000 after financial aid, as opposed to The University of Alabama’s staggering $26,000, and both are schools in the top 40% of rankings. So my question is, why are we paying more to attend a college that offers less? Another possibility to explore is getting rid of textbooks overall. For instance, in one of my classes, the necessary book was unavailable at the Supe Store, so our professor discussed with us the concepts in the book, and then printed us copies of any pages we actually needed to have.This may even be a better learning technique for some, as some students learn better by open discussion and involvement. There are many avenues to resolve this issue, but what’s important is that we start exploring them.