The cost of university textbooks is a barrier to knowledge

Not gonna lie! I am no rich kid. I didn’t have the money to buy all the university textbooks full-price because their cost was prohibitive. And there is no shame in saying that most of my books came from doggy websites or I copied the chapters that I needed for the original version. I wish I could be back in Italy to show all my notes and the pile of sheets accumulated over the years. Feel free to report me for infringing the copyright. I don’t care. None can take my knowledge away from me anymore.

The cost of college textbooks is a barrier to making knowledge more accessible.

This is a fact! Paying about $1200 per academic year just to buy textbooks is a huge burden to kids who belong to low-income households. Students can’t afford the cost and are forced to skip certain classes and get extremely anxious when preparing exams and revising because they didn’t get the privilege to study using certain well-known books. (1) In my opinion, this is just ridicoulous.

You do not need to get a mortgage to buy collegue and university textbooks

So what you can do to make the most of your education without missing out due to the high cost of those textbooks?

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FOR STUDENTS

The most obvious solution is to buy second hand. Although, this might get a bit difficult because students don’t usually sell textbooks. They are quite precious and you need to revise them for future exams too. So if you don’t find any folk in your department, you can check on the internet and see if you find a better offer online.

This is something I wish someone has told me before. The knowledge you find in today’s textbooks is the research that historical scientists did ages ago. If you type the name of the scientist that found the science discovery on any science search engeen or even Google scholar, you might be able to find the original paper. Alternatively you can find a review article online and learn about the topic. This will take a bit longer than finding all the necessary information on a textbook, but how cool is that you know about the original piece of work that led to the discovery of DNA, electrons, of the law of gravity?

Look for open textbooks. These books are written by faculty members and peer-reviewed, just like traditional books, but they are available online andfree to download. You can buy them for as little as $20 and they never cost more than $40. Basically a quarter of the cost of a traditional hard copy.

Make the most of your library facilities. My old university in Italy allowed students to borrow a book for no longer than 30 days. But here in Nottingham, I managed to bring a book home for one year. This is far longer than the time you are given to prepare an exam and you don’t have to buy a brand new book for your exams.

FOR LECTURERS/PROFESSORS

Recommend all types of textbooks and mention all these options in your class. If you are a first-generation scientist like me remember that, a while back, we were the kids sitting in the class struggling to keep it together and get an education.

Share your educational material online. When I don’t know a topic, I usually Google it and, at times, I am please to find slides of lectures from professors in different universities on the internet.

If you are an expert in a field, create a Wikipedia page and share your knowledge with the world. It takes nothing and looks good on your CV too!

Remember that science is for everyone not only for rich kids! #jointherevolution

 

References:

  1. https://marylandpirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Fixing%20Broken%20Textbooks%20Report_2.pdf