College Textbook Costs, In Their Words: Cody West, Iowa State University

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Photo courtesy Ryan Bretoi/Iowa State Daily

Cody West

Q: What did you spend on textbooks this semester?

Cody West: This semester, I spent $74.50 for one English textbook and it appears about $270 in course delivery fees… I also had a $81.49 textbook.

Cody West, 21
Iowa State University
Spring 2018 senior
Hometown: Altoona, Iowa
Major: Biology

Q: Most expensive book:

West: Oh goodness. I want to say that my freshman year my biology book with the access code to do my biology homework was about $220.

Q: How often do you use your textbooks?

West: It varies. For my more advanced science class, all the time. But I’m also seeing an increased amount of faculty that put out supplemental materials that they like to based their class discussions on. So I realized it’s really just a supplement to the learning, especially when you get into giant editions and publisher works like this… there’s not a lot of information that is really geared toward a specific course. So it does take the faculty a ton of time to go through and find out what the meaningful pieces, meaningful chapters and figures are. So I use it [the textbook] quite a bit, but I know I could use it more if the faculty member really had the time to sit down and find out what is most beneficial for the class.

Q: Internet?

West: Yes, and I’ve had an increasing amount of faculty that actually provide those resources and good links as far as where I can go for more publications and supplemental information. This book, even, for my developmental bio class I’m taking this semester, there is actually a supplemental website for the book that is completely free. It definitely doesn’t have near as extensive information but the main points and highlights of each chapter are in there. So, she references that quite a bit. But I have realized, like I said earlier, the amount of faculty that will present like a resource or read this article or read this research paper I found and then we’ll talk about that in class instead of the actual textbook reading itself… I’ve seen that increase a lot during my time here.

Q: Did you resell textbooks?

West: (paraphrasing) Never to the book store, sometimes to friends.

Q: Does the value match the price?

West: No, but in saying that I believe it does depend a lot on the certain professor or faculty member. Because, if they would spend the time really crafting the resource and finding the exact information in the text that most supplements their leaning technique and how they are going about a teaching material in the course, I think they could be more effective. But I don’t think you’ll find a single student who would really agree with what they’re paying for this is what they’re actually getting back out of it. It’s weird to put a price on education like that, where you’re talking about a course resource — especially when you look at tuition and if that even makes sense for what you’re getting — but on top of what we are already paying just to have an academic experience here with a supplemental resource that a lot of students hardly ever use… I know there are a lot of students who say, “I didn’t even open the book this semester and now I’m turning it back into the bookstore.” Like, that’s just stressful. I think there’d be a lot of students that would not agree it’s worth their dollar.

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