Textbook access codes place financial strain on students

R. Gray
Opinion Staff Writer
rgray@unca.edu

Every year, people make jokes about how expensive college textbooks are on top of tuition and room costs.

However, textbooks are extremely expensive. According to Collegeboard, the average cost of books and supplies for an average four-year public college can total to as much as over $10,000. A single textbook can cost as much as $200.

Due to the outrageous prices, students often find ways to save, whether it be finding older editions of the textbook, borrowing textbooks from friends or finding cheaper textbooks online.

With the arrival of access codes for textbooks and even homework, it gets even more difficult to afford required materials for classes. There are rarely discounts for access codes and sharing the text between peers becomes a challenge. It is impossible to re-use access as well, so finding a used version is not an option.

There is no secondary market for the material these codes provide, either, meaning the price is set by these companies. Access codes generally cost over $100, especially if there is additional content attached such as online quizzes or homework and not just the digital textbook itself.

While digital content is certainly convenient in terms of storage, access and carrying weight, it does not make it the best medium for information either. Research by Anne Mangen of Stavanger University in Norway shows that readers of digital content do not connect with the information on digital mediums the same way they do with print mediums. Research by professors from West Chester University also shows students retained less information if read electronically than if they had read it in print form.

Access codes for digital materials are convenient at a glance, but should not be the primary source of material for a course. Students who rely on other means of affording textbooks cannot do much for saving money on access codes, especially if they’re mandatory.

They are of no benefit, either, in terms of processing information and are even a detriment when it comes to focusing.

 

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