Sorry for the two-week break from posting. As many of you probably know, last week was reading week. Usually I use reading week as a chance to re-charge and mostly relax, but this year I had a lot going on last week and just didn’t get the time to post. During your time as a student, you’ll probably notice that every year your reading week is different depending on your midterm schedule, your classes, and your life.
Anyways, I’m back at it this week, and I’m going to talk about textbooks. From the first day of class you’re told which textbook you’re going to need to pass your classes. While I think it’s valuable to learn from the textbook and the lectures, there are some things about textbooks I wish I’d known when I started school that I’ll share with you today.
Do you need to buy the version of the textbook listed on the syllabus?
This is the first thing you should ask yourself when you see a required textbook for a class. Profs will always say you need the newest edition of the textbook because there is new information in it that you won’t find in older versions. Personally, I don’t think this is true. If you want to save yourself some money, track down a student who took the class last year and buy their textbook used. More often than not it will have the information you need. It just might be in a different chapter than what your prof tells you.
However, there is a flip side to this logic. If you happen to buy a used, older edition of your required textbook, you’re probably going to have trouble selling it to a new student next year because by then it will be 2 editions “out-of-date.” So think about what you want to get out of your textbook before you decide to buy new or used. It’s usually a no-lose situation because you’re either going to buy the textbook for cheap or be able to make some of your money back by selling it next year.
What other ways can I save money on textbooks?
You should also look into the policies of your school’s bookstore. At one of the schools I went to, the bookstore rented out the textbooks. This is a great option for you as a student because:
- The rent price is always cheaper than the price to buy,
- You get to keep the book for the entire semester so you can still get your readings done,
- And when you’re done with the book, you don’t have to worry about finding someone to sell it to – you can just drop it off back at the bookstore.
Another thing you can try is to find the book at either the school library or your local library. Sometimes it will work out that you can keep the book for the entire semester for free!
How do I learn from a textbook?
Now that you have the textbooks you need, you’re going to want to use them to get your money’s worth. The best advice I can offer for learning from a textbook is to interact with the book. I always like to do the assigned readings before class and make notes as I go through the assigned chapters. The notes give me a good point of reference for taking notes in class and help me study when it comes time for a test.
I also find note taking is better than highlighting because it helps me really understand the material. You should do what works best for you, but you’re more likely to remember the material if you write it in your own words rather than trying to memorize large sections of the textbook. Plus you might be able to sell your used textbook for more money the less marked up it is.
Finally, most textbooks have review sections at the end of chapters or sections. These reviews are a great way for you to test yourself on the material you’ve just read and can be a good starting place for knowing what you should study for your next test. Instead of re-reading the whole chapter when it comes time for a test, you can use this chapter summary and your notes to study for the test.
I hope you find these tips helpful!
Thanks for reading!