Point Counter-Point: Should students buy the designated textbooks for classes?

March 1, 2016

It is an endless debate – to buy or not to buy required textbooks. For most, it is an issue of price; however, there are plenty of ways to buy cheaper books. For others, it may be a more calculated decision based on past experiences of not having needed a purchased textbook. This question is asked by nearly every student as each semester rolls around, read what our columnists think about the issue:

I’m of the mind that if a textbook is listed in the required materials, I should get it. Usually, I do so and I have used the book sufficiently enough to justify the purchase.

But I admit, there have been times when I wondered why I even bought a book, why I wasted what little money I had on a book I was told I needed, only to feel cheated out of that money when the end of the semester rolled around.

This kind of thing happens, probably more than some would like to admit.

However, that doesn’t completely sway me to quit buying the textbooks I am told I will need for a class.

I’d like to believe my professors are not pulling my chain when listing a book in the required course materials. I respect them enough to show up to class with what was asked of me to be prepared to use said materials when needed.

Especially if it is a class for my major, I will always buy what is asked of me. And I’m the kind of person who will buy the books knowing that I’ll probably keep them, because I believe their purpose will probably benefit me past a certain week in a particular class.

I’m often baffled when students don’t buy the books asked of them. More often than not, a student actually needs the book, yet it is never purchased.

How do you expect to learn anything – never mind succeed in a class and pass – if you don’t put in the work?

Often, these are the students who I’m surprised even made it to college, so maybe that says more about a particular kind of student than about the issue at hand.

I know sometimes we get shafted in this effort to be good students, but that doesn’t mean you should just quit getting the materials you need.

If anything, instructors may need to be more cognizant of the materials they are telling us we must buy. That is where much of the problem lies, is it not?

Whatever the case, if you truly want to succeed, and not just in a class or in college, but beyond in a way that benefits your own self, buy the books, read them, do the work.

Being ill prepared is only going to hurt yourself, so why not arm yourself with the means to succeed?

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A study led by the College Board estimates that most students pay approximately $1,200 annually on textbooks.  Frankly, that is a lot of money, and causes many students to wonder whether these textbooks are truly needed or not.

This may come as a surprise to many of my professors, but rarely do I buy textbooks for my classes.

Before jumping to conclusions, let me explain myself. I do not learn from reading, I am a hands on learner who learns from in-class work, discussions and visual models. Reading a textbook is the equivalent of smashing my head against my computer screen and calling it studying.

Now that we have gotten this out of the way, here are honest reasons why you shouldn’t buy textbooks either:

First off, nothing is more frustrating than buying a $120 textbook only to use it for a lone chapter, and then it is used to collect dust on your bookshelf.

Hundreds of students’ hard-earned dollars have been wasted buying unused textbooks. Just this year, three of the textbooks I actually bought were actually used, and the rest I never bothered reading.

Secondly, our tuition pays for our classes, which allows our professors to teach. I am interested in learning from my professors’ wisdom and teachings, it is why I chose to take classes with them. If I wanted to learn everything from a textbook, I would drop out and use my tuition money to buy the textbooks.

And finally, not everyone can afford expensive textbooks. I find it more beneficial to buy a month’s worth of groceries than purchasing the never-used textbook for our Core classes.

Let me repeat the earlier statistic: most students pay approximately $1,200 annually on textbooks. How is this okay? Not only do I have to scrounge up money to pay for tuition, but I have to spend hundreds on useless textbooks?

While there are many reasons as to why you shouldn’t buy textbooks, I will be the first to admit that choosing not to purchase a textbook can be risky. Some professors do not cover all the material in lecture, and it’s hard to get a full transcription of the day’s lesson. Textbooks are a necessity if professors assign homework from the book.

My advice: do your research about the class before spending an awful amount of money on a textbook you may never use again. Additionally, before completely ditching the textbook lifestyle, consider swapping books with a fellow student or other cheap alternatives.

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