Dropping textbook prices would raise students’ spirits

Students can be picky with the classes they choose to take: finding the right professor and the best scheduled time is key. The one thing they can’t plan is how much money they’ll spend on textbooks.

Every semester, we or people we know will end up needing to purchase a textbook that costs more than $100. We wait for the first day of class in hopes that the professor may say the text isn’t required, but most of the time we are disappointed. Searching for the best deal is no longer an option because many textbooks are not sold anywhere else online.

Textbook prices are a concern for every college student. It doesn’t matter what year you are, books for general education courses and major-specific courses can be equally expensive, and there seems to be no way out of the trap.

One of the many courses at Baylor with overpriced textbooks is Theater Appreciation. The Baylor Theater Appreciation course is one of the fine arts courses students can take to fulfill the basic requirements to graduate. This semester, a custom Baylor theater appreciation book is required, which costs students $91. In another prerequisite class, Biology 1306, a 10th edition Campbell Biology textbook with an access code to Mastering Biology is required, which costs $297.65. If that isn’t enough, students taking Spanish as their foreign language are required to purchase a $250 textbook that is nonnegotiable. Now remember, most students are full time, so they are most likely buying more than just three books.

To lighten the cart a little, students looking to purchase textbooks could compare prices at sites such as Amazon and find a much cheaper deal. Students could also choose to rent their textbooks, if available. Unfortunately, many books do not leave students with these alternative options. For example, the Theater Appreciation book cannot be rented or found for less, and neither can the Spanish textbooks.

Logically, you would think that textbooks are expensive for a reason. If it is a special Baylor custom book because of the content, there is limited supply and high demand. However, many of these books are used at the professor’s discretion, so while a professor requires a textbook, they may only use it once or twice a semester, or sometimes not at all. The cost of textbooks shouldn’t become a hindrance to students’ education. Some students who enroll at Baylor are on full scholarship, and some are taking out thousands of dollars in student loans in order to attend. Whether or not the students can pay for Baylor, they still should not be required to pay up to $600 extra each semester.

Baylor should provide alternative means of attaining textbooks, such as campus libraries offering copies of all required textbooks for student use. That way, students who cannot afford the textbook can still complete required assignments without penalty.

Another option would be to allow students to rent all Baylor custom editions, especially high-priced books such as that for Theater Appreciation.

Professors also have the authority to choose what is and is not required for their students to create the best learning environment. If there are alternatives to a textbook, such as older editions or cheaper online versions, professors should be lenient with students and allow them to purchase whichever copies fit with their financial circumstances. If a newer edition is non-negotiable, these professors should offer a copy for students to read in their offices, or upload online versions so students can keep up with the course.

Students attend Baylor to learn, and their learning should not be hindered or infringed upon due to unrealistic financial requirements such as textbooks. Lowering prices or offering alternative options for students allows us to get better grades, to be less stressed and to have the Baylor experience we were sold on when we first applied.