College Life is Tough, Why Are Colleges Making it Harder?

If you’ve been in college or are in college now, you know the hardships of juggling money between tuition, room and board, and several other commodities. However, the person who should be helping you the most, which is your own alma-mater whichever one it may be, is actually the one who is shaking out your wallet for every last penny. It would be a fair assumption that the students attending these fine universities all around the United States would be educated enough to realize that the very own colleges are taking advantage of them. Actually, very few seem to notice what is really going on behind the scenes. The most blatant and obvious source of these offenses can be found in the college book stores that litter every college from the east to west coast.

The prime targets for these stores are the incoming freshmen who have absolutely no idea what to do when it comes to picking up books for classes. As soon as they arrive for their “orientation” to the college the tour guides shuttle them around the campus giving them a quick look around at the surrounding and eventually telling them to pick up their books at the local college bookstore. Telling them how convenient it is to have a store right on campus. Sure, they may even offer the advice that, “You could buy your books online, but they might not get in on time, or be the right edition.” However, this is where the deceit and pure capitalistic gain for the college begins to rear its ugly head.

One of the most common misconceptions is that an older edition of a book is worthless, and cannot be used for a class. This is one of the most barefaced lies they tell ALL the incoming freshmen. The only real differences between editions are approximately 20 pages of added information, with the sample problems in the book are re-arranged or changed. Why, is there so little change yet a dire need to update to the new edition? That answer is simple. The college’s need revenue and textbooks are a goldmine to any institution. However, capitalism is not a bad thing. Although, where does the line between fair business and outrageous looting start?

College students are generally denied of any information of what text books their classes require until they attend their first few classes. Many professors have actually begun to e-mail their students over the summer and offer them a chance to purchase their books online. This is a commendable effort on their part. However, the fact remains that colleges are purposefully retaining information to have a larger profit from the sales of textbooks. They know that once the students have arrived on campus and their classes have already started, most students will not wait to purchase books. Who wants to be a week behind in class to save fifty bucks on a book? A few select students may hold out, however the majority will not. This is what the colleges bank on, and it has worked for them quite well. An average student will dish out anywhere from one-hundred upwards to three-hundred dollars for books! With a class size of even six-hundred students and each student spending an average of two-hundred dollars, that comes out to a whopping $120,000! Of course, the campus does not keep all of it as their profit margin is not nearly one hundred percent. However, to make one-hundred twenty-thousand dollars of sales in just one day is enough to raise suspicion if these stores are really meant to provide convenience to the students or to strip them of the little money they have left.

Alright, say the colleges are not marking up any of the books at all, are selling them for zero percent profit. Then they seem to be in the clear huh? Not at all! They have yet another scheme to keep themselves raking in the cash. When students leave for summer vacation, they hold a book buy-back event. Distributing messages all over campus to get money back for your useless books! The prices they offer for the same over-priced book that was purchased at the beginning of the school-year make you cringe. Usually books will be bought back for twenty to thirty percent of their sale value. These same books will be sold as the “used” alternatives to the incoming students next year for a jacked up price usually around seventy percent of the retail price. The question seems to be are colleges established to teach and educate individuals? Or are they just money-making machines that hand out a nice diploma at the end of road that just says “It’s been nice ripping you off over the years; have a good life trying to get that money back!”

Colleges need to change their acts. These students are coming to learn and become educated about the professions that they aspire to enter in the next few years. They do not need some old businessmen ripping them off around every corner just to stuff their already full pockets. However, it seems as though colleges will never do that so here is some advice. Make sure to get ISBN numbers for every book your class requires as soon as possible. E-mail professors, they are very helpful most of the time. Take the ISBN numbers and check out the prices all over the net. Some of the best sites are Amazon.com, Half.com, and eBay.com. Shop around and make sure you use that money wisely!

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