College Students Shouldn’t Sacrifice Their Lives For Textbooks

Kelly Langevin, Copy Editor

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Now that my junior year is finally in gear, I am back to sitting in classrooms with fresh faces eager to know how intense the syllabus may sound and how many hours of sleep we will be losing due to class. It is not the number of exams or homework assignments that get the student’s heads shaking, but instead the costly textbook that has its very own facial expression written with annoyance and pain.

The National Association of College Stores says college students will spend about $655 on textbooks each year and a single textbook can cost about $300. According to The College Board, the cost of textbooks and other needed materials for an average student is around $1,168.

Absolute ludicrous.

As a struggling, part-time minimum wage worker and full-time student, I sadly think about things I might have to sacrifice in order to purchase all my textbooks. Sometimes I luck out with a good Amazon deal, other times I am thinking twice about going out with friends for a night or being able to afford my new 300-page wallet emptier.

Turns out I am not alone.

A survey conducted by Morning Consult for Cengage, an educational technology and services company asked 1,651 current and former college students how buying textbooks has financially impacted them. Forty-one percent of those students said it “somewhat impacted” them while 46 percent said it had a “big impact,” furthering that purchasing textbooks can knock certain people down into a deep financial stressor.

Keeping a social life in college can even be a challenge due to the cost of textbooks and other needed course materials. It may sound silly but some math classes require special scientific calculators that can cost up to $80 and that is enough to do some damage.

After buying some needed supplies, I have had to make several trips to the campus dining hall because I could not afford snacks for my room. Although I feel lucky enough to have a meal plan purchased by my parents, buying snacks and other food is up to me.

The dining hall closes around 7:30 p.m. and I felt worrisome not being able to have a stash of snacks at my disposal when I’m hungry later on at night or early in the morning.

Some college students also worry about buying groceries and sacrifice way more.

Forty-three percent of Morning Consult survey respondents said they have skipped meals to be able to afford textbooks. Thirty percent said they have not gone home to see family on certain occasions and 69 percent said they have signed up for fewer classes all due to a costly college material.

Over half of the survey respondents said they won’t buy some of their required textbooks.

Students shouldn’t have to make these sacrifices to be able to go to school to try and manage their classes.

Textbooks, if not made free, should come at a much lesser cost.

There are a lot of variables that can affect someone’s decision about buying a textbook. Choosing not to eat, unable to visit family and questioning graduating should not be an option.

College textbooks are just one reason why students struggle financially, this needs to change.