Are textbooks worth it?

By on April 16, 2008

I doubt that I am the only one who cringes when it is time to order textbooks for the upcoming semester. My books this semester cost $544.

I think most of us would rather use that money for other things. I could have bought 38 bleachers tickets at Yankee stadium this summer for that amount. As another comparison, I could buy both a Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3.

Considering the already outrageous price of higher education, it does not seem reasonable that students and their parents should find themselves on the hook for more extreme expenses (we will talk about Café prices in another article).

Sure, you can sell them back at the end of the semester. However, I’m fairly certain that I’ve never pocketed more than 20-25% of the original cost of my books.

I do think that books are a very important part of learning. I love books, and I read for leisure whenever I can find the time. However, are they necessary in every class? Some professors would say yes.

Often, they are correct. The textbook is a vital portion of certain classes, as students use them for homework problems and reference.

Other classes scarcely use them. Professors often rely on their own notes to teach. In my experience, class lectures are usually more effective than text readings.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I find that text reading rarely helps me absorb material. In fact, in some of my classes, my studying would have been more effective if I had abandoned reading the textbook altogether and focused on other methods.

Should Quinnipiac entirely eliminate textbooks? I wouldn’t go that far.

As I said, they are important in some classes. For example, math courses rely on textbooks for homework exercises. These classes should retain their textbooks.

However, other courses shouldn’t require them. They are just too expensive, considering they might not add to a course’s academic value.

Here is a possible solution- Blackboard.

Almost every class already uses Blackboard extensively. In classes where the textbook is not essential, extra course materials could go on blackboard.

Students could access those materials wherever the internet was available, and wouldn’t need to worry about forgetting a textbook.

In addition, professors could specifically recommend online sources for reference. In future jobs, we will find ourselves researching on the internet, not digging through textbooks.

Professors may also place certain items on reserve in the library.

I think it would make more sense for the school to buy three copies of a textbook, as opposed to having dozens of students buying the textbook every semester for several years.

As a result of fewer textbooks students could definitely save money and probably learn more effectively. I’d say it’s worth a try.


About Andy McDonough