The financially struggling college student stereotype might include more than you would expect; it could also be taking a toll on grades and education quality, according to a recent study released by U.S. PIRG.
The study surveyed more than 2,000 students and found 65 percent said they did not buy a textbook at some point during their college experience. Of those, 94 percent said not having a textbook for a course gave them concern for their grade.
“I actually am currently enrolled in a course that I have not bought the textbook for,” Laura Benedeck, senior early education major, said. “I haven’t bought it yet because the book is $170 and I just don’t have the money.”
Benedeck also said knowing she does not have her textbook causes worry for her grade in the class, much like those students surveyed in the study.
This study also revealed that 82 percent of students said they would do ‘significantly better’ in a course if the textbook was offered free online and the hard copy was optional.
“It’s important to read the material. Students who do not read and understand the material do not do well in my courses,” Maria Schmeeckle, associate professor of sociology, said.
Schmeeckle explained she tries to not judge students who do not buy their textbooks because she is aware some cannot afford the books.
“I make an effort to place a copy or two on reserve at the library … Savvy students sometimes find a book for my class in the library or order it through inter-library loan,” Schmeeckle said.
She also said she suggests students who are weaker in reading actually purchase their textbooks, so they are able to work with the text more closely by underlining or making reminder notes in the margins.
Some students seem to be avoiding purchasing textbooks for other reasons besides cost.
“I [have] had a student say his friend challenged him in a bet to get through the semester without buying his books. He did end up buying the book for my course and earned a B,” she said.
For those who do not buy their textbooks, Schmeeckle said she believes they can hypothetically do their readings at the library each week; although she is skeptical as this takes a large amount of commitment and lacks convenience.
Schmeeckle said she believes professors do take textbook cost into account, however; sometimes the best book is not the cheapest one.
“I tend to pick paperback books rather than hard cover ones [to help keep cost down] and I try to select books that are more reasonably priced,” she said.
She also explained some of her assigned readings are news articles or academic articles and reports she posts online.
“For these readings students simply need an Internet connection to access them [so this also aids in cutting down costs],” she said.
Schmeeckle stressed the importance of reading for class and said a major solution to failing a course or doing poorly is to buy and read the course material.