Dear professors, please talk to us about textbooks

By The Beacon | March 29, 2016 11:40am

by Melissa Aguilar |

After two weeks of tests and exams, the last thing I want to do is begin planning for the upcoming semester. But if I want to avoid paying extra shipping fees on books, I start looking at the required textbooks for all my classes.

As an English major, most of the books I need are pretty straightforward. If there’s a novel on the list, I can be sure we’ll read it cover to cover.

But the agonizing part of buying books is seeing that the list for a class is still pending online. I keep checking back every few weeks in hopes that the book is up.

I have had classes where no books were ever put up, only to find on the first day of class that the teacher did have a book we all had to buy.

On the other hand, I’ve bought books that were on the list, only to be told the first week of classes that we would never need it. The professors remarked that they were required to put some sort of book on the list out of obligation.

Sometimes certain editions of a book are necessary, as the publisher has completely revamped the content, and being in a class where everyone’s page numbers are not the same can be a pain. Other times, I’ve gotten away with using a book that was published when I was in middle school, and was able to save over $50.

My point being, if professors have access to the emails of all the students registered for their classes, why not help us start off the semester on the right foot and let us know what’s up with the book situation?

I’ve had a professor email me two days before the semester started, expecting us to have read and answered homework questions for class.

If it’s possible (though perhaps disrespectful) for a professor to email us such necessary information before the semester starts, they should also be able to reach out and tell us about our books.

A lot of us are struggling college students, so having a surprise textbook or course pack thrown in the mix is not kind for my budget.

I acknowledge that I could just wait to buy the books until the first week of classes, but that would put me in the position to only buy from the bookstore. Their books can sometimes be up to twice the price of comparable websites like Amazon or Chegg.

In the past, the campus bookstore has had to put texts on back order, leaving some students without a way to do the required reading due the very next class period.

A lot of my professors are great at communicating over the course of the semester. They let us know when they’ll cancel class, when the assignment deviates from the syllabus and even just courtesy reminders about assignments over the course of the week, and I appreciate that a lot. But that communication should start a little earlier.

My request to all professors is: Email us before classes start if the books we’ll actually need won’t match up with the required texts online.

Sure it’s a little extra work, but it will help us students start the semester off on the right foot.

Melissa Aguilar is a senior English and Spanish major. Contact her at