Textbooks really aren’t necessary in most cases

Written By Brooke Stephens, Co-Opinions Editor

Textbooks were once an absolute necessity, with students carrying stacks of them to class or out of the library if they checked them out to do homework. For some students, books may be the foundation of their learning outside of class. I am only able to speak for a handful of different experiences, but textbooks should not have to be mandated by any institution. Students choose to attend their individual schools. At a higher tuition and fee price than ever, they often have to scramble to find the savings and spend potentially hundreds of dollars on textbooks they might only read once.

According to CollegeBoard, a non-profit known for the SAT and AP student tests with a mission to expand higher education, students are expected to spend approximately $1,240 per year on textbooks and supplies at four year public schools. Not everyone has the chance to save up an extra $1,000 on textbooks per semester, let alone per full academic year. If the professors’ lectures come directly out of the textbook, there should not be a demand to purchase the required textbook(s) for the class. There are other methods besides buying the textbook that are more resourceful and convenient for students.

Before entering college, I was flooded by advice from college students telling me how to purchase textbooks, or if I should at all depending on the class. The list included ignoring your college bookstore entirely, buying a used book off of an upperclassman or online, and waiting until the first day of class to buy anything that was on the syllabus. I decided on the latter to try and avoid spending an egregious amount of money too early, and in retrospect only needed five textbooks for this fall and spring semester. One textbook I will use for my entire future career, so I did not mind buying a paperback copy of the book whatsoever.

Websites have been created to try and minimize the expense of textbooks. But depending on the book, they can still be priced at over $100. There is the option to rent a textbook, which can cut the average price in half, but is still a large price coming out of students’ (or their parents’) wallets. Students also have to hunt for free textbooks online or from fellow peers to try and avoid falling victim to the textbook overlords, who want to scam students out of more money from an already indebting college experience.

If the student were to miss a class, then the textbook may be valuable. But more than ever, notes are shared online, and students are able to share notes with one another in person and through text or email.

Ultimately, requiring textbooks for collegiate courses are not as beneficial or practical as they once were to the vast population of university students. Students should love learning. They shouldn’t be surrounded by anxiety that their supposed best way of absorbing information is too expensive, unavailable from the library, or overrides attending their classes and actively participating in retaining the same information taught in class.