How to Pass Your Classes Without Breaking the Bank

May 24, 2019 Hannah MacNaughton

Starting college is an overwhelmingly exciting and terrifying time. Whether you’re hunting down where your classes are, or meeting new people, there’s a lot to look forward to. While the price tag of college may hang over some of our heads, there are a few things we can do to manage it. One of the most expensive and necessary parts of college? Textbooks.

Before you go running to your campus bookstore remember that those textbooks are often marked up compared to other sources. The campus bookstore is a great if you’re lazy like me; or needing to charge the books to your account because you can’t pay for them right now. However, this option usually means you’ll be spending $400-$600 depending on your courses, which can be a significant jump from other options.

Before we get into hints on how to save money, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. First of all, it’s recommended that you spend 2 hours studying for every credit hour. That means if you’re taking 14 credits, you should be studying 28 hours a week. School is basically like a job (although, one you’re actually paying for) and in order to succeed you need the right tools. Think about it, you’re already paying for a lot – courses, parking, room/board, etc. – so it’s natural that you might want to try and save some cash when it comes to (expensive!) books. But don’t be naïve enough to think you can totally pass your classes all on your own. Textbook and classroom materials are usually necessary to do well and pass your courses – otherwise you’re gambling with a lot of money already spent on tuition that you’ll be able to pass the class.

So, while textbooks and classroom materials might be necessary, that doesn’t mean they have to break the bank. Shopping around can save you tons! Here are several ways you can cut down the costs of textbooks:

  1. Go Straight to the Source.

As online resources continue to dominate the classroom, many publishers are evolving the way they offer materials. Some places offer semester-long subscriptions to their entire library, others like McGraw-Hill allow for textbook rentals. This option allows you to get exactly what you need and save up to 70% off the original price of the text. McGraw-Hill partners with the major online stores you know: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chegg, and many more. This is a great option that reduces a lot of hassle that can come with purchasing through the bookstore, or other online options.

  1. Try Different Formats.

One of the easiest ways to save money is to check out what other formats might be available for your classroom text. Most major publishers now have eBook or loose-leaf versions of their texts available for sale online. These versions are usually way cheaper than the hardcover book. It’s typically the same book, but with a little bit of sleuthing (or even asking your professor), you could buy the same book for a cheaper price.

  1. See If There Are Any Promo Codes.

This isn’t always guaranteed but a lot of publishers, like McGraw-Hill, will offer discounts or promo codes at the start of a new semester for online purchases of their materials. It never hurts to ask, right? Follow/ask them on social: FacebookTwitterInstagram.

  1. Make Sure Your ISBNs Match.

Regardless of where you buy your textbooks, be sure that the ISBN number matches. This number is an uncomplicated way to know that you have the correct book and the correct edition for your course.

At the start of a new semester, course materials can really feel like a giant, expensive thing that you just want to avoid. But it’s important to remember that these materials really do help you reach your goals: passing your courses and doing well in school. Most textbooks, even physical ones, offer online resources exclusive to their content that includes things like: study guides, flashcards, video explanations, article resources, immediate feedback, etc. Not everyone learns the same way, and these resources can make the difference between an A and a B and between passing or failing.  So, shop around, make sure you’re not overpaying, but don’t forget that getting the classroom materials can help you save money down the line by not having to retake the course.

About the Author

Hannah MacNaughton is a student at University of Dubuque studying Business, Communications, and Economics.

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