Textbook prices discourage learning

By: Leah Palm
Twitter: @_palmegranate
Email: Palml@findlay.edu

With the start of any semester comes a couple of things that college students have learned to expect. The increase in hours spent studying and the decrease in sleep is accompanied by the financial stress of paying for textbooks. Whether this cost comes out of the student’s pocket or a beneficiary’s, many are left wondering if it stacks up to the value of knowledge gained through those books.
It is no secret that textbooks can add up to be hundreds of dollars in addition to the price of tuition, and this does not begin to cover online access codes. While these education tools can be beneficial to students, they seem to do more harm than good by costing students extra money and discouraging them from using the textbooks outside of the classroom.
Katie Reed, a western equestrian major and UF junior, explains why purchasing textbooks is so frustrating for her.
“It’s just a waste of money when we don’t use them, and teachers often either don’t teach out of them or they just completely regurgitate the information and it doesn’t help,” said Reed.
Not only do students seem to not need them to learn the information, but the information that is in them does not always make sense. This confusion causes the professors to go over it later in class making the time students spent reading the textbook irrelevant.
Reed points out that spending money on a textbook that will teach students the same information they are learning by paying to be in class is redundant. If they are paying tuition to learn in class why pay more money to read that exact same information outside of class?
“I don’t think I’ve ever learned anything from the textbooks that we bought for class. If the professors read off the PowerPoint that was given to them from the textbook company, then why am I in the class?”
Julie Thompson, a UF junior and business management major, explains how she understands the value in textbooks, but doesn’t understand the prices.
“I think that it’s fine to use a textbook because there are case studies and worksheets and other things to use as homework, but I just think that a professor needs to know what they are going to teach and what is in the textbook, so they know if we actually need it,” she said.
Thompson explains that completing the readings from the textbooks help her to be more prepared for class and allows for more in-depth discussion and learning during class time. However, the cost is not always worth it, especially when she is required to buy textbooks that have nothing to do with her major.
Thompson spent fall semester of 2017 studying abroad in London, and explains how the education system there fills the libraries with the textbooks students need so that they do not always have to buy them. If the textbook is not available in the library, Thompson says they provide a link where it can be accessed online.
“That was really convenient, and I was more willing to do the readings because I didn’t have to pay for them,” explained Thompson. “This system helps cut down education costs tremendously and encourages students to do the readings. It also eliminates the possibility of spending hundreds on textbooks that will not be used.”
Whether or not universities here will be able to adopt a system like Europe’s to provide students with textbooks is up for discussion, but there is no doubt that something needs to be done. Spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks that are not used or that are not helpful does nothing to contribute to the student’s education and only discourages them from reading.
The goal of our education system should be to inspire students to learn. To finish one book and put it down only to pick up another. It should not be to suck all the money possible out of the future generations trying to find their passion and their careers to help shape the world ahead. Changing the standard price of textbooks is only the start of establishing a more inspiring educational system, but it is a good start.

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