Have you ever had a resentful feeling when paying a hefty price for textbooks? If the answer is yes, then you and I are in the same boat as are many other students.
I always remember last year, when I struggled to pay for my tuition — which is around $5,000. I thought that was all that was required to pay for the necessary fees at UT, but I did not expect to pay $500 more for textbooks.
Fortunately, I still can take a loan from my family, but how about the other students who are not as lucky as me?
Indeed, according to NBC's review of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, "textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase," while the overall inflation rate is just 308%.
Therefore, we students, although working hard to pay for accommodations and food, still have to pay an excessive price for the necessary books we need. That is absolutely unfair to us.
Furthermore, if students cannot access the textbooks they need, there are a lot of consequences. When students decide books are not worth the price and do not buy them, they cannot keep up with other students in class, which can cause problems in learning. And it will ultimately hurt their grade.
In some STEM courses, textbooks are the foundation that you need to build your body of knowledge, and with a small crack, it will crumble, leaving a gap in your college career.
We must tackle this situation as soon as possible.
If students can access books with more affordable means, they will have more funds to help with other issues in their life. Also, books are a crucial source of knowledge, so if UT makes it easier for students to access them it will be a tremendous assistance, and they can keep up in class.
Finally, it is a waste to pay an exorbitant price for a book and only use it once. Last semester, I spent a whopping $250 to buy a book in a math class to use for one semester, which is quite an elaborate way to show how rich I am.
There are ways to solve this problem.
First, professors can assist students remarkably in this situation if they are willing to try. Instead of relying heavily on textbooks to assign reading and homework, they can attempt more creative methods.
For example, in business courses professors can combine business articles and newspapers to reflect the fast-paced, ongoing condition of the economy on a global scale. Students can get a lot of useful knowledge if the professors can orchestrate the sources smartly. It is good not to rely massively upon the textbooks, in which contents are often out of date.
On the other hand, not all courses can be applied with the method above, especially STEM courses since they are in the technical field, which requires a lot of research and examination to develop materials. Therefore, the university can support students by developing a policy that facilitates the circulation of books.
For example, UT should buy back the old textbooks from the students at a reasonable price, if they want to sell them at $180 for an old book. I bet that many students decide to keep their textbooks even though they only use them once. For your information, they offered to buy back my $250 math book at a dirt-cheap price of $75.
Furthermore, UT can create a concentrated portal that stores additional materials and assignments. This will help both professors and students in saving time and money, as all the information they need will be in one location to find. This maybe sounds too good to be true, but I think with all the finances that UT gains from students, they can do it if they want to.
Khan Academy is an excellent example that we can follow. It is a non-profit organization that contains educational videos and supplementary practice exercises for all to access freely. Therefore, with some endeavors, UT can tailor their program to satisfy their students' needs and wallets.
In conclusion, the textbook price problem has undermined the life of students for a long time. It costs us financial opportunities and creates unnecessary waste. With the assistance of our professors and our university, we can overhaul the system and help make students' lives a little easier.
Bao Nguyen is a senior majoring in business administration. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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