The University started back up again this week. College Student was going to take an economics class (yes, the fact that it was ECONOMICS is important…or at least “interesting” in the context of the story I’m about to tell). He decided to drop the class because of the text book situation.

College Student buys as many of his textbooks online as he possibly can…at HUGE savings, I might add. He has never had a problem with this…he’s even bought a “Chinese edition” of one of his texts from a seller overseas (in this case, the “Chinese edition” meant the text had a Chinese cover, but the contents were the same as the U.S. edition and everything inside the book was in English). As long as you’re careful about checking to make sure you’ve got the right edition (and the seller you purchase from listed the right edition, which is usually the case), you’re not going to have a problem.

Most professors post the lists of required textbooks before classes starts, but the economics professor didn’t post his list. So College Student e-mailed him a few weeks ago. He received a curt response from the professor that went something like, “I recommend you come to class the first day before purchasing any textbooks so you can see what all your options are.”

A couple days before class started, College Student discovered the texts for this class were going to cost somewhere around $300. For one class! And that includes a $70 subscription to some online grading service that works very similarly to the online program the university already uses (the subscription thing included some graphing that the University’s program doesn’t, but College Student believes those tools would be available elsewhere for much less.)

That’s not all! On the first day of class, a textbook representative was there. She did her best to scare everyone away from purchasing texts online…in fact, College Student said she actually gave misinformation on that. Instead she showed students the various “options” for purchasing all the materials required for the class (yes, this company also created the $70 online grading service).

College Student said that after 15 minutes of listening to this textbook representative, he pulled out his computer and checked to see what other classes were available. He was no longer interested in economics. At least not THIS economics class. (It looked a little too basic, too…)

There are 380 students in this class…and this professor teaches another section of this class. That is an incredible amount of money for this textbook company. No wonder they send a representative out to talk to students. I’m wondering if there’s some sort of kickback for this professor??? I find it very interesting that this is an ECONOMICS class…though my husband points out that economics and personal finance are not the same thing.

College textbooks

5 thoughts on “College textbooks

  • January 26, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Textbooks are expensive!!!

    I haven’t heard about the cost yet from DS….
    (I have 2 at a University–but one married recently (that was expensive) and takes care of herself now and graduates soon.)
    I’m glad your student dumped that class!

    • January 28, 2008 at 7:45 pm

      Me too. Glad he dumped the class, I mean. When he first talked about dropping it (when he found out how expensive all the course materials for this class were going to be), I encouraged him to hold off until he’d actually been to class. College textbooks ARE expensive…and I hated to see him drop a class he was interested in just because of the textbooks. He HAS the money to pay for them.

      But just because textbooks are expensive doesn’t mean they HAVE TO BE so expensive. And the $70 “usage fee” for the computer program that duplicates the University’s grade tracker seems especially unnecessary.

      It’s hard to believe this guy REALLY needs to require $300 worth of outside materials (with little/no hope of buying used or online) in order to teach this class. There have to be cheaper alternatives.

      • January 28, 2008 at 8:09 pm

        When I read your post I wondered if the professor is getting kickbacks! Seriously. I am sure it happens.
        Your son can take the class again from another professor. Maybe?

        My kids can often buy their books for $200-$300 a semester.
        Unless there is a special book or there are no used books available.

    • February 25, 2008 at 10:03 pm

      Yup! And my son has bought foreign editions of his textbooks…only the cover is different (at least on the ones he’s bought). The content is in English and it’s the same as everyone else’s…at a fraction of the price.


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