Algonquin College students are strategizing to cut expenses on educational materials as soaring costs of everyday essentials challenge their financial ingenuity.
A Facebook group for used textbooks called “Algonquin College Used Text Books for Sale” has become a digital haven for over 4,136 members. Conscious of this competition, Connections – The Campus Store is trying its best to improve its offers on second-hand books.
The library could also be an option. When asked on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, about borrowing course textbooks from the campus library, the Algonquin College Library responded, “We generally do not carry course textbooks. However, we may have older versions of the text.”
Some faculty members do not ask for textbooks or offer alternatives to students to reduce the stress and financial burden. A faculty member who accepts an older version of a book, for example, would lower the $2,000 bill of an architecture student.
“We’re paying for tuition, for all the books and are paying for all the equipment. It builds up for sure,” says Shayla Fisher, a students in the veterinary technician program. “It’s a little upsetting that (faculty) have to keep updating the versions and sometimes change the order of chapters.”
Connections offers numerous options to Algonquin College students. It sells hardcover, digital or used books, along with renting or repurchasing books from students.
“We’ll offer the same version of the digital book for a six-month period or lifetime, “ says Jennifer Maheral, course material services manager. “We are also buying back books during certain periods of the school year.”
The choice of the version depends on the program and the students. Out of the 2,971 courses this fall, only 1,563 have resources requiring either print, digital or both.
Fifty-nine per cent of the 25,562 books sold at the college this fall are print books. Students opt for hard copies as per faculty requirements or the absence of alternatives.
Despite the cost, some students would like to keep their books.
“With a hard copy, you have the book right there and you will be able to find information easily. I can eventually resell them to recoup costs. With online books, you have to go to different websites,” says Daniel Samba, a police foundations undergrad.
Students prefer online books because the books are cheaper. Online books can be checked anywhere, while hard copies are bulky.
“E-books are easier because I can go on my computer instead of grabbing a copy from the bookstore. You can just type the information you are looking for instead of swiping through the pages,” says Ethan Mulholland, a first-year architectural technician.
For Maheral, the store cannot do anything about the print books because they sell them at the publisher’s price. They even started a pre-order service to make sure the students get their books on time.
“I preordered, but they were the wrong books, so I had to return most of them. It was difficult to return books and to buy mandatory ones. They are really expensive,” says Rachel Coombs, a student in the diagnostic medical sonography program.
Mulholland advises students not to order books quickly and wait until course schedules and books have been finalized.