The textbook dilemma: To buy or not to buy

While students sort through the textbooks in the Central Michigan University Bookstore, the agitation is palpable. They stand searching for the books needed for class this semester, as they squeeze past someone that might end up being in their class.

The professors create a list of books needed for their course with a price tag that makes students and parents gasp. Some instructors select books that have an impact on students, while other selections leave some wondering ‘why did I buy this book in the first place?’

“Last semester I bought a workbook that was $174 and we used six pages,” senior Barb Kosten said about her social work course. “There was another teacher who photocopied the pages that they were going to use. Why couldn’t my teacher do that?”

Many complaints about textbooks are with regards to price and how much students used those books during class. Even though the books are assigned on the syllabus, it does not mean they are required to pass the course.

Junior Andrew Goszyla bought a textbook for a chemistry class and never opened it. The teacher taught information from the book and lectured with the use of Powerpoint, which allowed Goszyla to gain the information needed without the book.

If the instructor does not require and enforce reading from the assigned book, students tend to not keep up with the outside reading, when the information that is important to the teacher and course is being supplied during the class period.

For other classes, instructors sometimes assign books that are only used for an access code that may provide supplemental materials like quizzes, videos, and games that correspond to the class.

“The worst book I bought for class was an econ book that I spent $250 on and didn’t use at all. The only thing we needed was the access code,” sophomore Maggie Tegert said.

The worst textbook that senior Jarray Adams purchased was for a social inequality class he took.

“We didn’t use it until halfway through the semester and it wasn’t reader-friendly,” Adams said. “It was hard to follow and it was the kind of book that you had to have a dictionary right beside you to understand it.”

Although some required texts are hard to understand or leave students head-first napping on them, instructors also assign texts that invigorate and cause students to be excited about the course and the material.

Adams, a sociology and criminal justice major, had a favorite book he was assigned in a class for his major.

“I had a class that was about correctional institutions and a book from that class was my favorite,” Adams said. “It related to the field and I was really empathetic to it.”

While some categorize their favorite textbook as what they gained intellectually from the reading, others consider their favorite as books that weigh less on their pocketbooks.

“I got a book for $10 on Amazon. It was used and there were a few pages ripped out of the back,” Tegert said. “The ripped pages didn’t affect my reading, but I ended up learning a lot about hospitality and hotels.”

While the textbook lists look long and expensive, the professors hand-choose the books that they think will benefit their students the most. Some books will excite, while others will cause dread but ultimately you will expand your knowledge with each page you read.