One of the worst "visible" expenses I had to deal with at college was books and supplies. If you're a freshman, you will be knocked directly on your butt at the cost of a semester's worth of "educational materials." If you're an art student, you'll have to sell body parts to get your supplies! :)
The best way to arm yourself against losing money and getting gouged is to know how the "book racket" works.
So, why the discrepancy?
If the publisher comes out with a new edition of the book, your edition becomes worthless. So those $200 chemistry or math books will now be obsolete because the publisher added an extra sentence.
If a professor isn't going to use the book for the next semester, it becomes worthless. Some book buyback people will throw you a dollar or two to take your book (and then they'll turn around and sell it elsewhere for three times as much - or more).
So, what do you do to save cash?
And a note to art students - you will be completely gouged by the student bookstore art supply area. Shop elsewhere. Online, at the dollar store (you'd be surprised what you can find) - be creative. You don't need the $100 paint brush. Buy "hues" in oil paint rather than the actual colors. Learn how to stretch your own canvases. Become a scavenger and use unique materials to create art.
By Andrea from Oakland County, MI
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If you're looking for second-hand textbooks, check out second-hand book stores and library book sales (I've found brand new textbooks for as little as fifty cents at these sales). You can ask former students and teachers if they're getting rid of their old books.
Tips and ideas for saving money on textbooks. Consider not buying the book until you've been to the first session of the class. Sometimes you find out that the professor plans to use the book very little, or not at all.
I graduated from college not that many years ago, and picked up a few tips during my years at my university! One of the things I wished I had started doing right away was borrowing textbooks from the campus library . . .
My Son is going to college and we are on a tight budget. We found a site that has used books that are cheap.
When going back to college after years, I discovered the college bookstore is a big rip-off. If you go online, like Amazon, amongst others, you can get brand new editions, sometimes called international versions, (same exact book, just looks different on the outside) for a fraction of the price.
I am currently attending college and found that the teachers will usually give reading assignments from just a few chapters of the expensive textbooks; however, they are usually known ahead of time when the teacher hands out the syllabus.
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College is expensive; that's no news to anyone.