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Astronomical Science Textbook Prices

by Andrew Morantz

March 20, 2017 | Sciences

via University of Virginia

Science textbooks at Dawson have reached astronomical prices and students are looking for a workaround so they don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a textbook they can get for a fraction of the price.

Some of Dawson’s science courses require students to buy textbooks that can be upwards of $170, and the average science student is taking three of these courses per semester. This has caused many students to resort to purchasing second-hand books to save money.

When asked about this, Jeffery K. Eng, a professor in the Dawson Biology Department, said: “I don’t even require my students to buy the textbook anymore because of the cost of new textbooks”. He suggests students try to find alternatives, such as used and previous editions of the same textbook.

Another major reason that students are skeptical about purchasing new textbooks is the fact that most science textbooks cannot be reused in other courses. Eng went on to explain that “in three or four years, students will be in a new school with new classes and will be carrying around thousand-page textbooks for no reason”. Not only does Eng believe that many textbooks become useless when students move on to new schools, but some of the science textbooks can’t even be reused for courses at Dawson.

Oftentimes many science teachers are not as lenient as Eng in terms of textbook requirements.

Health Science student Jamie Beaulieu says he has “taken nine science courses that required a new textbook that I didn’t already own”.

Beaulieu also mentioned that “some classes, such as Physics, require an online passcode”. This means that students are routinely forced into purchasing a new book, or at the very least purchasing an online code. These online codes can cost up to 70% of the price of the combo package of the textbook and code together.

Jamie said that in his experience, “the benefit of paying three times the price of a used book was not at all worth it”.

Many students have resorted to using a Facebook group where past and present Dawson students can post their textbooks for sale. Tal Elbaz, a Dawson Pure and Applied Science student, suggests that new Dawson students “check out the ‘Dawson Book Exchange or Sale’ Facebook page so they can buy used textbooks for much cheaper”. Tal said “I buy all my textbooks used, unless an online code is required”.

Judging by the fact that the ‘Dawson Book Exchange or Sale’ page has more than eight thousand members (only two thousand shy of Dawson’s official enrollment of ten thousand students), the mindset of buying used textbooks appears to be the unfortunate norm at Dawson.



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