Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cheap Text Books

If you’re in college you most likely fit the stereotype of the poor college student, eating ramen and sucking down coffee to stay fed and awake for your late-night study sessions. College is expensive, and with some private college tuitions reaching over $35,000 it’s easy to come out of a four year university over $100,000 in debt. Of course, tuition doesn’t cover everything; college students still need to pay for things like housing, clothes, food, and books. Many students’ schedules make it hard, if not impossible, to work a part-time job while in school, especially if they take part in any extracurricular activities. Summer work is about all that’s available, and summer jobs can be low priorities to students looking for solid internships to help out their graduate school or future employment opportunities. Unfortunately, many of the best internships are unpaid, leaving students even more strapped for cash.
One of the most unexpected expenses for first-year college students is when the first walk into the bookstore. Sure, if you’re a first-year you realize that you’re going to have to buy books, but there’s a good chance you didn’t realize that the books for one semester can easily cost $1,000. “But wait, it’s probably not so bad,” the first-years argue, “I can just sell my books back at the end of the semester and get my money back.” Though this strategy may work for some students, for most it’s nothing but a pipe dream. It’s rare for a book to fetch more than half of its cover price when it’s resold to a bookstore. Also, professors often change textbooks or won’t teach the same course from one semester to the next, so your local college bookstore may not even take your books back. This is fine if you’re an English major reading Jane Eyre or Catcher in the Rye, at least you can build up your personal book collection, but if you get stuck with something like Practical Economics the book will probably do nothing but gather dust on the shelves.
Cheap text books are a great way to save money if you’re a college student, but they can sometimes be tough to track down. Used books are by far the easiest way to find cheap text books; they can often be found right alongside the new books in your campus bookstore. An even better way to find cheap text books is to by them directly from students at the end of a semester. If you know what classes you’ll be taking and what textbooks they’ll require it’s easy to find cheap text books from the students who are already in the class and looking to sell off their books. By cutting out the middleman you can find cheap text books and they can sell their books at a better profit.