Do Your Homework Before You Buy Your Books

You’ve probably heard every college student out there complain about having to buy books. You can’t really blame them though; buying books for one semester can cost hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars. Here are a few tips to help you avoid wasting money on books.

Don’t buy any books before the first day of class. This might sound crazy, but it will save you a lot of money. Every class has a “required” book list, which leads students to believe they need to have every book on the list. This is not true! Go to the first day of class and ask the professor (or the TA) how much the book will be used. They might say that you will only have one or two assignments out of the book all year or that the reading from the book is optional. Most of the time, however, the professor will probably reinforce that the book is “required,” but it still might not be true.

Talk to someone who has taken the course. Find someone who has taken the course and ask them. They will know better than anyone if you really need the $300 Introduction to Philosophy book that you are never going to read again. Students who have already taken the course will be your best resource in knowing if you actually need the books on your list. 

*Note: if someone tells you that you don’t need a book for a class and they are on academic probation, they may not be the best source of information. Talk to someone who did well in the class.

Unfortunately, there are some books that you will need; there will be no way to do well in the class without them. You can still avoid wasting money if you play it smart.

Buy/rent from Amazon or another online site. You should probably never buy a book from your university bookstore. It will be overpriced, and the store will give you very little money if you resale to them at the end of the semester. The exact book you need can easily be located online using the ISBN number. It is very rare that you won’t be able to find the book you are looking for on Amazon, Redshelf, or some other site. If it is cheaper to rent than buy, always rent (especially when dealing with textbooks). You’re never going to even think about opening your Econometrics book after the semester is over. It won’t happen. You can rent a digital version that you can access on your computer or a hard copy that gets mailed to you. 

Consider buying an older edition of the textbook. There may be a class that will require the 6th edition of the textbook. However, the 5th edition will be nearly identical to the 6th edition and will be much more affordable. As long as major changes weren’t made to the text, you will be fine buying older versions of the textbook. This is something you can check with people who have taken the course. You are not the first student that has attempted to use the 5th edition instead of the 6th. Find someone who did and see how they fared. 

The only thing worse than buying expensive books is buying expensive books you don’t need. Or that you could have rented for much less. Do your homework before you buy your books, follow these tips from GradGuard, and you will save thousands of dollars during your time in college.

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