To the Editor: Textbooks
This is my first year at UMD and I am beginning to realize some of the ups and downs that college life brings. While I begin to align my work schedule, sort through my notebooks and prepare for a return, I maintain one major frustration: textbooks.
First, I want to acknowledge the instructors I feel are selecting in the best interests of the students. My Interpersonal Communication teacher has one book listed that’s required. It makes sense. It's a large class that probably has to be taken by a majority of degree seekers. That magical little box shows up that shows used prices from other online sellers like Amazon and Chegg, not just the book store. Those small things are greatly appreciated.
What I don’t understand is why all classes aren’t like this one. My Finite Math, which I assume is also quite large, has no books listed. All that shows is a message stating “Textbook requirements have not yet been determined for this course.” That statement raises too many questions. Did the math change? It’s not like this class, or its concepts are new. What book did they use last semester? It’s January 7 and I still can’t purchase my books.
My economics class brings in another interesting variable into its equation. The book comes with Connect access. Connect is a great tool for learning, but it's availability is flawed. As far as I am aware, to get the Connect access, you have to buy it through UMD’s bookstore. It’s a tactic used by all universities, to save book stores, and as a response to retailers like Amazon and Chegg.
The used textbook market was created because students recognized that they aren’t willing to pay hundreds of dollars for books that have a lifespan of 15 weeks. The university's response: Cut off the market. My accounting class has an automatic fee that is charged to my account for some of the supplies I will need. This price may be totally reasonable and justified. My issue is that I have no idea what it is I am being charged for. A book? Software? Why is it not clear?
As a student, my main reason for attending UMD was to get an education that ultimately leads to a job that keeps me financially stable and happy. To achieve that there is a financial burden that comes with it. That is understood. This isn’t a complaint on pricing, it’s a complaint on the lack of clarity on how these decisions are made and whose interest is considered.