uggle Welcome to College!
Where textbooks range from $3 to $300.
Where buying the correct version of a book can make or break your final grade.
Where professors get big heads about themselves and ‘write’ a book and make you buy it for some obscene price they know you can’t afford.
Where books are sometimes available in the library, but are almost always checked out.
Where the school BookStore claims you get a deal and its 3% off of the regular price.
Where Amazon has either been your best friend and has your book cheap, or your worst enemy and doesn’t have your book at all
Where student negotiate with each other over book prices because we all know the struggle is real
And finally, welcome to college, where you have to buy a $300 access code for a class and there is nothing you can do about it.
The first time I bought an access code was $200 and for math class. I was instructed to buy it directly from the company and that I need to have it by the end of the second week of class in order to do any of my assignments and homework. I wasn’t working at the time, I didn’t get a refund check and I was down to the last of my savings. I had been lucky during the first two quarters of school. As a gift from one on my relatives, I had my first quarter of books paid for. The second quarter, I used my savings and my books were very cheap. I tried absolutely EVERYTHING I could to find it cheaper. I sold some of my old books, tried to buy it off of someone else, tried to see if I could do all of the assignments before the free trial was over… There was nothing I could do! and I have to say, it was probably one of the most devastating moments of my life. I’m admittedly a dramatic and emotional person to begin with but I seriously felt like I would never make it through college because I couldn’t afford a damn book. And this was just for one class, and it didn’t include the actual hard copy of the book either. I was a full time student with 3 other classes to buy books for.
How the hell was I going to come up with that kind of money in two weeks? I didn’t want to call on my family, most of whom couldn’t afford to help me or didn’t have faith that I was going to graduate in the first place. I had not idea what I was going to do. It wasn’t like they offered a ‘low income’ discount or payment plans.
By the end of the first week, I still didn’t have an answer to my issue. My only other option was ask my mother, whom could ‘afford’ it but I didn’t want to ask her because she was taking care of my sister back home and paying for the left over expense of attendance that my ‘financial aid’ didn’t pay for. I tried so hard to be selfless and find a way and ended up having to ask her any way. She said she would help me on the weekend. That Friday, I sat in class feeling absolutely destroyed.
The professor asked the class why only 6 people bought the access code and the class of course responded that that price was ridiculous. The professor then took a moment and said
“Well how much is it?”
Stunned that he didn’t know, the class pretty much yelled at him that the book was $200
“I’m sorry student, they were suppose to reduce the price to 160”
Oh, if you thought I had any hope that the reduction was going to be a decent reduction, you would be wrong
The class of course groaned.
I went back to my dorm that afternoon
and finally caught my break.
My uncle called and offered to pay for my access code.
So I made it through my first year by the skin of my teeth. That summer, I worked hard to earn money to be able to afford my books for as long as I could. I was blessed with a job in January 2013, halfway through my sophomore year and that struggle was still there but just a little less daunting. I bought books before I bought groceries, and that realization makes me sad to think about the struggle of other students who had it worse than me.
So this story wasn’t to complain (completely), but to bring realization to the actual devastation that people feel, and the decisional struggle that people experience when they have to choose between begging, selling their things, or forgoing food, just to by a book to stay in school.