Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Textbook costs deter students

According to a study done by the college bookstore company Follett Higher Education Group, which was included in an article recently published by USA Today, “over one-third of college students will opt out of buying course materials, primarily because of the cost, leaving them at a disadvantage in the course.”

This growing trend is evident at Plattsburgh State, where students can either purchase required texts through the College Store, located in Saranac Hall, or resort to online retailers such as Chegg and Amazon.

PSUC criminal justice major Jess Caliendo said she knows people who don’t buy their books because of both the cost and the belief that the professor will not actually require them to use it once it is purchased. This belief stems from the increasing number of professors turning to technology as way to keep students engaged in the material.

“They’re old-fashioned,” PSUC hotel, restaurant and tourism management major Mia Solomon said. “A lot of professors are moving toward Powerpoints.”

Nevertheless, a majority of professors still require their students to purchase textbooks, some of which can cost them hundreds of dollars.

To help ease such financial burdens, Follett has suggested including the price of textbooks within students’ total tuition costs.

“By rolling the price of the course materials into the course’s tuition, Follett guarantees each book is purchased by a student,” the USA Today article reports. “This allows the cost of course materials drop to a level that’s little — and sometimes no — extra cost to students outside of their standard tuition and class fees.”

Caliendo said she would prefer a method like the one Follett has proposed.

“Personally, tuition’s going to go up anyway, so you should just add it in,” she said. “But I think that they would charge you the book store price instead of what you could find on Amazon.”

Solomon, however, said she would be skeptical of one large fee depending on how much colleges decided to charge.

“It should be our choice to be able to pick textbooks instead of a fee through the school,” she said.

During her first year at PSUC, she purchased all of the required texts before realizing she did not end up using many of them. Now, she feels out each course before making her purchases.

“I make sure the textbooks benefit me,” Solomon said. “If it doesn’t have a lot of relevance and it’s expensive then I’m probably not going to buy it.”

And she’s not alone. Follett also reported that only 28 percent of college students have purchased their books by the first day of classes.
Meanwhile, PSUC environmental studies major Dina Farina was skeptical about Folett’s suggestion.

“If I say, ‘yes,’ it would be because it seems a lot easier,” she said. “If I say, ‘no,’ it’s because you could find books cheaper that the fee. I’m in the middle.”

Email Patrick Willisch at patrick.willisch@cardinalpointsonline.com

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