Should You Buy the Textbook?

With the recent insane cost of textbooks for students, it’s become important to evaluate just how much you actually need them for your classes. I learned this the hard way in my first semester of college. I spent about $400 on textbooks and supplies for my classes and took a serious chunk out of my savings. I realized later that some of the books were not worth the money and that I could have easily borrowed them from other sources. Textbooks are always a good resource to have, but it’s important to look at all your options before you drain your bank account. Here are some things to ask yourself before you purchase a book:

What will you be using it for? Many students buy all of their textbooks before they attend the actual class. This is a good way to get ahead, but I personally don’t like to do this unless my professor suggests I should. When you attend the first class, you get a sense of what you will actually use the book for. If the teacher only uses it for certain examples or as a supplement to their notes, it might not be worth the money. Science textbooks tend to be pricey, but can be extremely helpful for studying on your own, so you might want to purchase or get them some way just in case.

Have your friends taken the course? Always asks friends who have previously taken the course if you might be able to borrow their textbook or buy it from them. It also might be beneficial to ask them if they even felt they really needed the book for the class. Borrowing books from my cross-country team has been a huge life saver.

Can you share it? If you know you will definitely need a book and are in a class with someone you’re close with, see if sharing the price of the book might be beneficial. My friend and I split the cost for our Physiology book and alternate using it because we live a few doors down from each other. I don’t recommend doing this if you don’t know the person very well or won’t be seeing them a lot.

Can you rent it? Always ask yourself if you will be needing the book for more than the semester you have the class for. If not, renting the book is the cheaper, smarter option. This mostly applies to classes that are out of your major. If you need to buy the book, always compare prices to find the best one.

Asking these questions before you buy books can save you a ton of time and money. College students should know how to be smart buyers. Textbooks are an investment, and you need to decide if their a good one. 🙂


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