6 ways to save on textbook costs

It’s no secret textbooks can be expensive, especially when you’re carrying a full course load. Here are six tips to help mitigate the impact on your wallet.

Shop around!

This is something I cannot stress enough. Many times, students feel the need to buy books directly from the University’s bookstore, but that’s not necessary. Instead, use the bookstore as a starting point to learn what books you need and then start comparing costs.

Whether you rent or buy (and then sell back) a textbook, be smart about it! While shopping for textbooks for this upcoming semester I was able to save myself well over $200 just by taking a few more minutes and looking at different websites. If jumping from Chegg to Amazon and other websites just to find the lowest cost isn’t your thing, I’ve got great news. There are now websites who will even do all the work for you, such as Bigwords.com. On a site like this, you just enter the ISBN number of the book you are looking for and it will bring up a list of all the places you can buy/rent the textbook in an organized manner of lowest to highest price. The little bit of work and some research will save you lots of money in the long run.

Talk to the professors

Before the semester starts, and before you go ahead and buy your books, email your professors about the textbooks they have listed. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the important questions. Find out if your professor actually plans on using all the books they have listed; you never know, maybe that $150 book isn’t actually required. You can also save money by purchasing an older edition of a book, so ask if the edition that’s listed (usually the newest) is necessary. Usually from edition to edition the content of these textbooks doesn’t change much; it may be a word here or there or just a formatting difference. If you’re able to buy a book that is even only one edition behind, you can pay as little as a dollar for it!

Talk to your friends

If you know someone who has taken a class you are in already, ask if they happened to keep the textbook. If they did, you may be able to buy it off of them at a discounted price, or even borrow it for free for the semester! It might seem silly to think that someone would save their textbooks instead of selling them back, but it never hurts to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Go to your classmates

Its common practice for students to look at the class roster before the class begins because everyone wants to know if they’ve got a friend in class with them. So first, I recommend checking who is in your class. If there is at least one person you know (you don’t have to be best friends) than you’ve got a golden opportunity. Chances are, you are not the only one looking to avoid paying full price for a book, so see if you can split the cost/book with one of your classmates. If there is ever a time you both need the book, one of you can always make copies of the pages or you can study together as partners. That way, everybody wins.

Ebooks

If you’ve got an e-reader, than you’re probably in luck when it comes to textbooks. Almost 100% of the time the cost of an ebook will be significantly lower than a physical copy of the textbook because the publisher is saving money on printing costs. The key to success when using an ebook is making sure that you are comfortable with the navigation process, and your inability to physically take notes on or in the book (though I don’t recommend doing this with any textbook). Different e-readers have different features such as the ability to highlight passages or bookmark pages, so make sure that you know the ins and outs of your e-reader before taking the plunge into the realm of ebooks.

Check the library

Libraries on college campuses are there for academic purposes. This means that the library on campus will differ from your public library at home because of the target audience and content of the shelves. You may not find as many fun novels to read, but you may luck out with finding your textbook on the shelf, essentially already paid for. You’ll likely have to make a few trips to the library throughout the semester to renew your book(s) but that just means you’ll get a breath of fresh air and free books!

The 6 Best Study Spots on Campus

So I hear you want to get some studying done and I’ve got good news for you. If you’re in need of a study spot at Loyola, look no further. After three years here, I’ve successfully scoped out six awesome study spots (listed in no particular order) and now I’m going to share my secret with you!

The first great study spot: YOUR DESK!

Yea, that’s right. I said it. Your desk can be a great study spot but so many people forget about this little piece of furniture that is used as a table more times than it is as a desk.

“Why my desk?” you ask me; well the answer really is simple.

Your desk is conveniently located right in your own room. For some, this may provide distractions based on who else is in your room or how many times you procrastinate by going to the kitchen and opening the fridge. For others though, the fear of wandering around campus only to find any and all potential study spots taken is forevermore banished. You’ve got a clean surface, with easy access to food, water, outlets, all your textbooks, a printer, and comfortable clothing. You don’t have to worry if it is raining or cold outside, so dressing however you like is always an option. Another perk is that you likely have access to a roommate if you’ve got a question that they can answer, just remember to stay on topic and get back to work so you don’t lose your drive. So while the desk may be underrated or often forgotten, dust that thing off and crack open the books. There is work to be done!

Onwards: The Knott Hall and Donnelly Science Center breezeway

View from the Knott Hall/Donnelly Science Center breezeway at Loyola University Maryland

View of the Alumni Memorial Chapel from the Knott Hall/Donnelly Science Center breezeway.

Wait, what’s a breezeway? Well in this case, it’s the series of hallways that connect Knott Hall with Donnelly. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you find yourself looking out the giant windows onto the back of the Alumni Memorial Chapel. Not only are there some great views, but you can usually find a vending machine or two close by, as well as lots of tables and chairs, several computers, and even printers.

Even if the breezeway gets crowded with students studying, you won’t find yourself surrounded by more than 10 people, because seats are limited. Usually, fewer people are a good thing. The natural light is an added bonus that you won’t find if you’re tucked away in Humanities or in a study room in the library.

Half way there: The porch of Humanities!

Admit it: you’re always envious when you see a porch full of students that aren’t you. This is a highly coveted spot for many activities including drinking Starbucks, people watching, and even studying.

Humanities building at Loyola University Maryland

Prime real estate on the Humanities porch.

The upside to studying on the porch is that you get to enjoy the beautiful weather (depending on the time of year of course) while also being productive. No more having to choose between hiding out in your room and lounging on the quad. Instead, pack a bag full of books and grab a chair on the Humanities porch. You’re pretty much guaranteed a good time surrounded by the sounds of happy students enjoying the outdoors and the lovely view of campus that never gets old.

The first three spots are so good, how can there be more? Enter: The Library

Okay so we all know the library is where people go to study for hours on end and pull the all-nighters during finals, but maybe you aren’t one of those library people because it can be a bit intimidating. Well fret not, during the past 2012-13 school year I recently braved the stereotypes of library people and ventured to the other side (i.e., east side) of campus to see what it was all about. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised! There are tons of great spots in the library to choose from, meaning there is something for everyone. If you like a little background chatter and natural light like myself, grab a few friends and snag a table in the front gallery. If you need a small and quiet space with no visual or auditory distractions, get there early to claim a study room or cubby. Or if you want to lounge a little while soaking in the atmosphere, wander in just about any section and you’ll find a couch or two to plop down on.

Like I said, there is something for everyone so don’t be afraid of the library! My only advice would be if it is midterm or finals week, the earlier you can get there the better because the library can fill up quickly.

Second to last but still great: Starbucks

Starbucks at Loyola University Maryland

Empty over the summer; always packed during the school year.

Wait, Starbucks sees hundreds of students pass by all day, and there are lines during prime coffee drinking hours, why would anyone study here? I’ll tell you why: because it is fun! And you’re always able to fuel up on caffeine. During the day, you’ll be lucky to find a spot whether it is at the Starbucks bar or the long table a few feet away, but if you get one I suggest putting in your headphones and sipping on your beverage of choice to get into the zone. You’re sure to always see a friendly face walk by and wave, which can be a welcome reminder to smile and relax. You’re also close to several options for food as well as bathrooms for the inevitable bathroom break. And of course you can make all the noise you want, this isn’t the library.

Last but not least: The Reading Room

Tucked away on the third floor of Loyola’s Andrew White Student Center is the haven for students looking to nap between classes. But napping is overrated when you wake up disoriented and late for class. So if you want to get comfy, and I mean really comfy, but don’t feel like sitting studying in bed all day, I present to you the Reading Room. The recliners that you can find here are likely sent straight from heaven, and this room may actually be quieter than the library. It ends up becoming the perfect mix between practicality and relaxation. Even if you end up never getting an ounce of studying done here, at least take a power nap just once before you leave.

So there you have it, the six best study spots on campus. I challenge you to try each study spot at least once. But if you find the perfect spot for you, than stick to what you know works. Everyone needs something different, but I can guarantee you’ll find it if you just look.