Textbooks: a dying necessity of college life

J’Mari HughesReporter

Every year, weeks before the semester begins, we receive an email that informs us that we find a list of the textbooks we need for the semester. Every year I ignore that email until I go to class and discover whether the books are necessary or nor. As freshman, I would get the books immediately because I assumed I would need them. As the semesters went on, I realized that sometimes the books professors assign were not needed. Now, it is not until the semester begins and the professor assigns work directly from the book that I choose to buy it.

In 2019, there is so much information available on the internet. With access to online resources, I think it is surprising so many professors choose books instead. Using the internet is faster, cheaper, and easier to use.

A class I took in my sophomore year required three textbooks, none of which I bought. They were overpriced and had less than a hundred pages each, so they were not at all worth their price. Because they were so expensive and that class was an Liberal Education Program requirement having nothing to do with my major, I knew once the ten weeks were up that I would never touch those books again. I made it through three sections of that class and got my homework and tests done without the “required” material, which further proved my theory that we do not always need textbooks.

I once had a class where, out of the blue, my professor assigned reading from the textbook that apparently no one knew about because my classmates responded with comments such as, “We have a textbook in this class?” and, “I never even bought that.” It is interesting to me that professors assign textbooks and only tell students to use them two or three times the entire semester. It is even more interesting that professors assign textbooks and do not require students to do anything but read from them. No quizzes, no review, no note-taking: just reading. In that case, I would think hardly anyone is going to read it.

I think it is silly for a professor to tell students they need a book they will barely even use. I also think it is unnecessary, as I have made it through several semesters without some material. Also, that is not just me; in a class I had in the past, I did not have the assigned material and neither did other students. My professor had extra books on hand and would stand up to ask, “Who needs a book?” and then distribute them to those without books. If my professor ran out, he would tell those without books to look on with a neighbor. Situations like that, I believe, bring students into the mindset that if they do not purchase a book, they will still be granted whatever information is in it, and therefore demonstrates the idea that these books are not a necessity.

Regardless of whether students will use the book frequently, telling students to buy them, as expensive as books are, and then hardly using them, is a waste of money. I think professors should either not assign them at all or assign them and use them on a regular basis.

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