The necessity of course materials

With the beginning of the spring semester in full swing, students are also accompanied by syllabi filled with jam-packed agendas and a hefty list of books and materials they are “required” to purchase.

According to College Board, a non-profit organization focused on expanding higher education, students should budget for roughly $1,298 for the school year. Multiply that by four years and students should prepare to pay around $5,000 for all the required supplies they need for the semester.

Many students, at one point or another, think to themselves when paying for a shopping cart full of books, “Do I really need to buy this book this semester?”

When asking different majors around campus if course materials should be required, Casey McCauley, a senior Business Administration and Finance major, believes that required course materials are needed in some cases. “If they facilitate learning and are proven to be helpful then they should be required.”

On the other hand, Kayla Allen, a junior Communications and Media Studies major, thinks otherwise. “I do think they should be required but if we are never going to open them, then we should not be required to buy them.”

With popular opinion seemingly split down the middle as to whether or not buying course materials is a necessity, Sonoma State University has come up with a cheaper alternative.

A popular type of class that Sonoma State offers is called “Zero-Cost Materials” (ZCM) classes. These classes offer materials that come at little or no cost to the student and can be very helpful to students on a budget. However, there is not a large selection of ZCM classes.

When asking McCauley if all classes should be ZCM classes, he states, “No, it would increase my tuition costs too much, but I believe they should be cheaper than how they are currently.” On the other hand, when asking Allen if all classes should be ZCM classes, she says, “Yes, or at least more affordable.”

Within recent years, book publishing companies have upped their game in the book publishing business by including software for online homework and quizzes to help enhance the students learning and give them a better experience than a regular textbook would have.

Nevertheless, what is most difficult is that most students are now forced to pay more for the online programs because of the new technology, adding a bit of additional cost to the already-surprisingly-expensive semester of books.

Another complaint to that students seem to have over required materials is that some don’t even need to open the book the whole semester. “I have bought materials that I didn’t open once for a couple classes and it felt frustrating wasting all that money on a book I didn’t use once,” said Allen.

On the other hand, some professors see the required textbooks as mandatory in order to process the information correctly so that, when they come to class, they have already taken in the information from the lesson they are going over.

It seems as though students are having a hard time when it comes to purchasing required course materials. In order to save some money, renting is often the cheaper alternative to buying required books or materials through popular sites, such as Chegg and Amazon, and come in digital copies as well as paper copies.

Although it may never be much more than a paperweight in your dorm room in some instances, it is important to obtain all necessary materials prior to, or during, the first week of the semester in order to be fully prepared the moment the class begins.