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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Professors or bill collectors?

Photo by Kaili Gaston

As next year’s class registration opens, a wave of anxiety spreads through campus over selecting courses. Accompanying this is a looming dread over the ever-present partner of college — the bill.  

On top of a hefty tuition, room and food, you’re faced with the ballooning cost of textbooks. Each semester I wonder: Is it necessary for textbooks to be expensive as well?

According to Aggie One Stop, students can expect to spend $900 on books and supplies this upcoming academic year. 

Professors are tasked with creating lesson plans, exams and assignments, etc. around source materials of their choosing. Professors often choose expensive textbooks, ignoring the growing financial burden placed on students. 

Inflation has been a pressing issue, however, textbooks have exceeded the common concern. Over the past five decades, textbook prices have risen 1,041% — far outpacing inflation. 

While you can expect to spend massive amounts on books, allocating for that final bill is difficult without a set price.  Professors are only required to submit the syllabus a week in advance. Confronted with the bill, I, like many others, opt out.  

Looking back on previous semesters, textbooks were not my primary study material. I rarely opened the cover, let alone read it, and was able to get through the class almost completely fine on supplemental materials found on the internet. If I did, it was to receive detailed vocabulary or fleshed-out details that would enhance the already-taught material. 

As the courses rose in difficulty, so did the textbooks. Advanced courses required more niche materials, ranging from professors’ own works to expensive scholarly additions. Unable and unwilling to make a large expense in one sitting, I now try my best to find other options. 

Scrambling through available and cheap substitutes for the textbooks, I usually scoured the Texas A&M libraries or found other additions for copyrighted work that was half the cost. 

In most cases, I am successful, and with a simple Google search, I am able to complete my assignments. So, what’s the purpose of buying a textbook that isn’t necessary to complete the course? 

Given that it is proven by students each semester that it is possible to find low-cost scholarly works that are applicable to the course, it becomes almost impractical to continue the use of current editions. Especially when the textbook does not cover the entirety of the semester. 

So where does the solution lie?

As previously mentioned, we simply use the already existing materials of research articles and updated textbooks that A&M has to offer. The library adds new additions every semester of research material and scholarly articles that range on niche topics

Since professors require students to use these resources for their assignments, the same could be applied to their reference material. Using databases that A&M offers as well as other institutions and research centers such as Mayo Clinic.

This creates a network of stability! 

Requiring professors to use scholarly articles and research is overall beneficial as it alleviates the stress of money for students and gives deserving authors exposure for their works. 

Using scholarly material, such as research reports and articles, rather than dense textbooks diversifies student involvement. Rather than using set chapter structures, alternative material dedicates time to their unique studies. 

Class material is up to the professors’ discretion and the stressful outcome of pricey books falls on the students. The conversation of the rising cost is long overdue. 

An effective learning environment starts with the relationship between professors and students, and if their first transaction is a hefty bill then it leaves little room for development. 

Saanya Troutman is an English senior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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