Our view: not breaking our piggy banks

The university’s schedule of classes for fall semester debuted yesterday, marking the start of another planning period. In theory, students make advising appointments. Then, they schedule their classes and forget about them until August.

That’s the end of the student equation anyway. For professors, the planning period remains unclear – at least to students who aren’t privy to that information. This interim time frame, however, presents professors with a prime opportunity: the chance to survey students about classroom resources.

Students shell out upwards of $700 to $1,000 per year for college textbooks, according to a May 2007 report from the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.

As professors prepare to teach the same or similar courses in the fall, they should reevaluate the materials they require students to purchase.

Did the bundled textbook package complete with CDs and workbooks really come in handy? Or would the textbook alone have sufficed?

And then there are those pesky clickers. They sound like a great idea to enhance participation in large lecture classes. But many students know the reality: Some professors consistently drain 15 minutes of class trying to fix technological problems. It’s a miracle when the clickers can take attendance, let alone become an interactive tool. Plus there’s no way to prove you were in attendance if you just had one of “those days” and left the clicker at home.

Updated textbook editions also irk most students. Usually, the one numeral increase – i.e., from 11th to 12th edition – only adds an extra page or two in the book, but it spikes costs to the full price since bookstores won’t carry the older editions. Luckily, online textbook dealers have mitigated this problem by allowing students to purchase past editions. Ask those students if the editions mattered. We bet they’ll say no.

Of course, many students throw money away since they abandon the textbook and other materials within the first week of class. Hence, professors can’t rely on advice from disengaged students. They need to seek input from high-achieving students. Chances are, those students cracked the book open more than once.

Kent State’s student population has very strong middle-class ties. You don’t see BMWs or Lacoste clothes gracing the campus very often. Students appreciate the university’s attempts to curb costs, especially since many are paying for their education out of their own pockets. Cutting the unpredictable costs of textbooks is one way professors can help students succeed.

Plus, professors earn the respect of their students when they show a sincere effort to trim costs. We’re more apt to read newspaper articles or books from Borders than bulky, dense textbooks. It’s a win-win situation.

The above editorial is the opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.