Do you need to buy the textbook?

Back in high school, you had textbooks for every class, and it was such a pain coordinating your schedule to include locker visits and putting those nylon socks over the books to “protect” them from damage. You may have even been that kid who committed social suicide with a rolly backpack – but despite all of that, at least your books were free.

In college, you will miss free books, ’cause college text books are crazy expensive. Most students spend at least $300 per semester. I’ve paid almost that much for a single book. When you are on a budget, or you want to make some transfers from the textbook budget to the beer budget, you need to get creative. Here are some tips I have used to avoid buying college textbooks:

Go to class – Most of the time, exams are based on lecture material, not the book. Unless your teacher wrote the textbook, they don’t really want to read it, either. In fact, they probably haven’t read the last few editions. Pay attention during class and be sure to take notes – in my experience, lecture notes alone will generally account for 80% of questions on the exam.

Use the library – If it looks like you will need a book to get that extra 20% you can’t get from the lectures, or you have a homework assignment, see if your school library has a copy of the book on reserve. You can generally ask your professor at the beginning of the semester if they will keep a book on reserve at the library or during office hours, and you can photocopy specific pages.

Make a study buddy – Let’s be honest…most of the time, study dates are not for studying. But if you need the book, you may have to buddy up to a nerd. (I have traditionally been that nerd.) Find some sucker in your class who shelled out their swear jar money for a book and ask to borrow it or study with them. And try to bring something to the table – if you haven’t been paying attention in class, at least provide the study snacks.

Check prices online – You’re down to your last resort – you can’t stay awake in class, you can’t get the book from the library, and your classmates are all ogres except for the cutie who’s dumber than you are (what a shame). You have to buy the book. Never buy from the book store! Search online using the ISBN number and get a used book whenever possible. Some stores even have a rental policy, where you pay a deposit that you get back at the end of the semester.

Selling back your books – At the end of the semester, try to sell back your books. If it looks like you’re only gonna get $5 for your $149 book, give it to an underclassman. Tell them they owe you a favor to be repaid at a later date – it will be worth more to you than whatever the bookstore offers, I promise.

That’s it. Pretty simple to avoid buying your books – unless, of course, you are an English major, in which case you should like reading, so enjoy what you signed up for!

Kelli Lampkin

Kelli Lampkin is a writer, traveler, comedienne, and entrepreneur.

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  • K.K.

    Another pro tip in regard to selling back books – Amazon generally offers the highest online sell-back prices, but in the form of Amazon gift certificates (which you can then use to buy your textbooks for the following semester).

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