ICC takes on textbook prices


Textbooks at Pima Community College has grown to levels that make students’ wallets cry.

The Inter-Campus Council and Provost’s Office are making an effort combat rising textbook prices. Some options that have been suggested are open education resources or to use common textbooks for similar classes.

If instructors and the campus start to use OER and streamlining textbooks that option would allow students to save money they would’ve spent on textbooks.

But one of the most important things that ICC suggested that could be done is talking about it. If no one starts talking about this nothing will happen. Ignorance isn’t bliss ignorance is expensive textbooks prices.

The increase in costs has student turning elsewhere for cheaper textbooks. Most commonly students are utilizing the Internet to try and save a few dollars.

It’s reached the point where textbook prices can influence what classes students take.

“I wonder how many students that buy their books actually reopen them in the future if they own them,” said Mia Convertino, PCC student. “I think renting is a really good option, unless you really want a book.”

Convertino, a student in the vet technician program, said if she wouldn’t have rented her textbooks this past fall semester she would’ve paid between $500-$600 in required books.

“Renting is a really good option, even though it’s not always an option,” she said.

Students who don’t necessarily need the textbook for their major end up buying them anyway, said Nathan Rojas, electrical engineering major at Pima.

“I’ll wait, unless it’s a book I really need for my major,” said Rojas. “But if it’s not for my major I’ll wait to buy it.”

Certain administrators believe the cost of books on students strictly depends on their major. Karrie Mitchell, vice chancellor of student development at Pima, is one of those administrators.

“It depends on whose lens you’re looking through,” Mitchell said. “For science and engineering majors, they would most likely say ‘yes’ as textbooks in the Science, Technology, Mathematics & and Engineering (STEM) fields tend to be more expensive due to the technical nature of the information.”

Mitchell said STEM textbook prices will be pricey regardless.

She added, “Liberal Arts majors would be more likely to say no (when compared to STEM majors prices of textbooks) because the information contained in the textbooks might not contain such industry specific knowledge.”

There are multiple outlets for purchasing textbooks online. Similar to the search for the Holy Grail, finding affordable priced textbooks can be strenuous.

“I searched the web high and low for my textbooks prices. I’ll check Amazon, Chegg or Half-Priced Books,” said Alicia Verdugo, PCC education major.

The famous website Ratemyprofessor.com isn’t just for helping students decide what professor to take, it now has a checkbox when rating a professor to indicate how much the textbook is used in each class.

Professors have even taken a stance on helping students with affordable textbooks. Some have eliminated the use of textbooks all together.

“Sometimes, teachers try to work with us and work around the textbook,” Rojas said. “But, he (one of his professors) ended up telling us we had to have it, even though he wanted to save us money.”

Instructors have informed students ahead of time about chapters used for the course.

“I have a professor who doesn’t require us to buy the textbook because he tries to give such great detailed lectures that we learn just the same, if not better,” said Verdugo. She spent under $200 for textbooks this semester.

Regardless, saving money on textbooks doesn’t always happen. There are ways to combat the high textbook prices, Mitchell said.

Students must take action. She recommended for students to join the Student Advisory Board and participate in an upcoming survey about textbooks that will be coming out in a few weeks.

Students suggested working with the instructor before purchasing the textbook to request to leave a copy on reserve in the library for class use. Some suggested to purchase the book and don’t open it until the professor has made it clear that the textbook is absolutely required.

The point is that textbooks are still expensive for students, especially those at a community college, said Convertino.

“We should be trying to help save money for these people who probably don’t make enough money to buy their textbooks each semester,” Convertino said.

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