If you thought your tuition was expensive in college, you haven’t been to the bookstore yet. It’s not unheard of to spend up to $1,000 on books for one semester, depending on your major. Incoming freshmen should have a good idea of what to expect as they start their classes. Consider these tips from the professionals before you spend a fortune on books.
- Ask Early On
You’ve probably heard about the “early bird getting the worm.” This adage is certainly true when it comes to buying books. Contact your professor as soon as you can sign up for fall classes. Ask him or her about the details surrounding the required books, such as:
- Edition descriptions
If you email the professor, most professionals are thrilled that you’re taking the initiative to learn about the curriculum. With this information, you can start searching for the proper books.
- Shop Used First
Used textbooks are treasures to any college student. They’re often 30 to 50 percent off of the new text. Because you know the professor’s textbook list, search for used books first. Be sure to match the ISBN number given to you by the teacher to the books available at used bookstores. They must be exact for the proper match. Shopping is critical in this area because used books are in limited supply. When they’re gone, you have no choice but to try an alternative route.
- Consider Renting Books
If you’re really strapped for cash, an inexpensive way to acquire textbooks is through renting them. Consider these benefits of renting books, such as:
- Low cost over several months
- Easy returns
- No worries about selling them after the semester
Remind yourself that renting books means that you can’t highlight the text or write in the margins. Use alternative, note-taking skills by using a notepad. Simply reference the textbook page in your notes so that you can read back on the information when necessary.
- Avoid the College Bookstore
The college bookstore may appear tempting for convenience purposes, but it will take a large chunk of funds from your account. Try to exhaust all of your other resources before using the bookstore. It’s on campus, which means that it has high costs for store overhead in the first place. Buy small items at the bookstore, including Scantron pages, notebooks or college clothing. You’ll have a lot more money leftover with this purchasing strategy.
- Try Online Outlets
One of the most popular ways to obtain your books is through online outlets, such as BooksRun. These websites buy books from across the globe, and they sell them at a deep discount. Search for your textbooks with titles, ISBN numbers and other identifying information. Many students swear by these outlets because they can point and click their way to a textbook purchase. Standing in long lines isn’t necessary anymore.
- Scan a Borrowed Book
Some professors only use part of the books that they assign in the first place. You may want to save money on books by scanning several chapters. Borrow a textbook from a friend. Scan the required pages into your computer. You can reference them on your computer whenever necessary.
Take notes by using software that virtually fills in the margins with your ideas. Although most professors want you to buy the entire book, it’s completely unnecessary when you may only use a handful of pages for the entire semester.
- Look for Trading Groups
A trend that’s growing in popularity is trading groups. Students from a particular major might create a group on a social media site. They post information about the books that they have or textbooks that they’re in need of using next. Everyone shares their information, and book trades occur.
It’s very rare when money exchanges hands in these trading groups. It’s merely a resource to help other students out. You won’t be able to keep most of the textbooks you use so plan on buying any books that you want for extended reference.
- Be Sure About the Textbook
As a freshman, you may not be sure of your major. Certain classes may be up in the air. Don’t buy or rent any books until you’re sure of taking the class. You might be trying out a math class or history subject. If you discover that the class isn’t for you, you haven’t lost any funds by dropping the class. Simply buy or rent a textbook once you find a class that you’re intrigued by.
- Test the Library Supply
A clever strategy that some college students follow is library resources. Most campuses require copies of the textbooks for each class in session to be stored at the library. The books are for reference only, and they can only be checked out within the library for a few hours. Take advantage of this opportunity whenever possible. Study the text or photocopy a few of the pages. Using the library isn’t always the easiest solution, but it is the cheapest outlet. Try to get to the library early, however, because your chosen textbook may be checked out already.
Most students keep the textbooks that they purchase if they’re related to a particular major. Don’t hesitate to sell your other books, however. There’s no reason why you should keep a history book if you’re majoring in biology. Sell your books online or among your friends. Helping anyone out with discounted books will only improve college life overall.