I'm a senior with one semester left, meaning I'm trying to find the cheapest books that are a total need for a class. Being an English major, I'm required to buy a lot of books for each class and it adds up easily. Five classes with a total of at least ten books needed per class can be pricey.
This is an issue each student faces, not only every year but semester. A standard four years has eight semesters with a minimum of five classes to be considered a full-time student.
And for some majors, the classes require very expensive, newest edition textbooks with access codes to be able to complete graded homework assignments.
These tips are beneficial to all majors in all years of school. These are some of the first steps you should take before ordering any textbook or book mandatory for a course.
1. Try not to order from the campus bookstore.
You can find much cheaper prices on the version of your needed book on Amazon. Not only Amazon, but other sites or bookstores may have better prices in general due to the not as high demand. All you need is the ISBN barcode. Always check local bookstores near campus! (Past students are selling their used books for cheap just to get rid of them.)
2. If you’re going to order from the campus bookstore, rent your textbooks.
Trust me, you are not going to need a textbook from freshman year again. Your classes change, meaning so does the difficulty and the information you learn. Also, some first-year core classes change their textbook to the newest edition each school year, and now you can no longer sell your used textbook to the upcoming class. You don't want to be stuck with a barely used, pricey textbook that is now worth nothing.
3. Always buy a used textbook over a new textbook.
The price can be cut by over 50%. My favorite option is to look at the used prices under Amazon's set price. I have no need for a brand new book when I can get a cheaper, slightly used one. The used books from the campus bookstore as well are going to be in good condition due to their policy on only accepting books that have minimal wear and tear.
4. Always ask your friends if they already have certain textbooks or books first.
This seems like a very "duh" thing to do, but so many individuals don't think to ask before ordering books. Some students feel compelled to have their own textbooks instead of borrowing others', which doesn't make a difference. You should especially ask all those you know in your major since there is a very high chance someone has taken the class before or has needed the textbook for a similar class. Additionally, graduate students usually have their old books that they no longer need.
5. Wait until the first day of your class.
DISCLAIMER: This does not work for everyone or every class.
The first day of class is called syllabus day for a reason.
There have been many times when I got to my class on the first day, my professor went over the syllabus, and then went on to state that textbook is not truly needed, but it is mandatory he/she puts in their syllabus. Or, they realized there is not enough time to do the last book mentioned in the syllabus (see hack number six). Sometimes the textbook is only provided for extra help for the class. Most of the time professors are using a syllabus from when they first began teaching. Do not do this for a professor who has already emailed and posted the textbooks on Blackboard that are essential to the course.
6. Extra hack for English majors:
Don't buy all the books required for your course at once. Books get cut all the time, especially from upper-level courses. You have the syllabus and professors will have listed exactly when you need to read how much of each book. Don't wait until last minute or you won't have time to read, but space-out buying your books in segments throughout the semester.
For example, buy your books needed for the first half of your class up until spring break for the spring semester then right before spring break buy the remaining books. This is more budget-friendly and the week break gives you the time to receive and read your books.
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