A textbook example of emergency assistance

When a doctor is in the midst of attempting to treat a patient, he or she has to understand and manage the observable symptoms before the cause of the disease is appropriately diagnosed or cured.

This medical methodology of treating patients is applicable to the current state of education and the increasing financial stress a student encounters on a daily basis.

The cause is multi-faceted, and the symptoms are increases in tuition, book and supply costs and worst of all, debt, which was around $25,000 per student during 2011 and 2012, according to data formulated by the College Board Annual Survey of Colleges. 

Further, while somehow managing this much of a financial burden, some students also work full time in order to have enough money to feed, house and provide clothes for themselves.

The Associated Students at Sonoma State University have created a possibility of managing one of these symptoms, which is the cost of textbooks.

The recently passed resolution AS.R1.14.15, or the Textbook Alternative Pilot program, will try to find new ways to present course subjects so students don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on books each semester.

This resolution fosters a new way of thinking about how we actually get information. Faculty and students are at the forefront of discovering new platforms or modifying old ones.

For example, a book is a great resource, but with increases in costs, some of the information in a textbook might be condensed or presented through a visual format on platforms such as YouTube or PowerPoint.

Additionally, it’s rare in any undergraduate course to completely read a textbook from cover to cover due to the limits of time. In this case, a solution will have to come from teachers or publishers.

For the program to flourish, sacrifices such as letting go of traditional ideas to gain important information are necessary.

The costs and benefits of new ideas require critical thinking and objective analysis, but in this case, the benefits of decreasing the average $1,826—which Sonoma State students currently pay for books a year—outweigh any other costs.

Though some are in the process of accurately diagnosing and curing the main cause of the financial crisis in education, students have to actively and effectively deal with book prices, and the Textbook Alternative Pilot program does just that.

Students and faculty should get involved in this enterprise because both parties are necessary for any long lasting effects. This program will also increase the likelihood of student success in courses because more of them will have what they need in order to better grasp the material.

If successful, the first few weeks of any given semester might look different.

Instead of stressed-out students who can’t afford necessary books for a class because they’re drowning in debt, those first few weeks might have somewhat happy students who are still drowning in debt, but have all their books or supplies and extra money in their pockets for more important things, such as paying their debt.