Most students embarking on a university or college education have saved diligently for several years by working on summer or evening jobs and by putting aside any money that comes their way. Most rely on some assistance from their parents as well, but the financial realities of attending post-secondary courses come as a shock nevertheless, and students usually find that their first task is to find ways of stretching their hard-earned money to cover their many expenses.
Many of these college expenses are no surprise. Course fees, accommodation, food, and clothing are all quite predictable expenses. Students are also aware that they must purchase text books for their courses, but most of them are totally unprepared for the enormous cost of these books. University text books today can easily cost $100 each, or even more in academic areas such as mathematics and science. When students must purchase ten or twelve texts in their first year it can cause considerable upset to their financial plans.
University and college students have always been quite creative in finding ways to cut down on costs. Purchasing text books has traditionally been a special challenge and, a number of cost-cutting innovations seem to be quickly learned by all freshmen. They know, of course, that they can go directly to the college book store and purchase brand new texts, and, no doubt the wealthier students do just that. Others, however, seek out second-year students to see if they are willing to sell books that they no longer need. Used books can represent a useful bargain, but for those who are really serious about saving money there is an even better idea – the internet.
Searching for scholarly texts on line is an exciting, cost-cutting venture that previous generations of students could not have imagined. Books of all kinds are available through a number of different web sites, but of particular interest to university and college students is the fact that many on-line book sellers have created special sections for university texts. Companies operating these sites are well aware of the requirements for the various courses being offered, and because they obtain these texts in huge volumes, unlike the college store, they are able to offer them for sale at greatly reduced prices.
Students who are considering an on-line purchase of text books should be aware of the additional costs involved. Books purchased at the college book store can simply be picked up and taken away, but when they are purchased through a web site they must be shipped either by courier or by mail, and this can add a significant amount to the original cost. Furthermore, if the texts are purchased through an on-line auction, it can be quite difficult to negotiate a reasonable shipping cost, not to mention the time needed for delivery. These are things to consider, but even with these additional concerns, an on-line purchase is almost always by far the better choice.
Things look even more promising for the future. Some web sites are now dedicated to providing e-books at no charge. If all legal obstacles can be overcome, students will be able to simply download the books that they need. The implications of this for book sellers are enormous, but for students, it will mean an end to the budget-breaking need to purchase expensive books.
The cost of post-secondary education today is a reality that students cannot avoid, and any cost-saving measures that can reduce expenses should be promoted whenever possible. The high cost of university and college texts can be reduced or avoided. Students should be encouraged to take advantage.