Implement Textbook Changes at GRCC
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Grand Rapids Community College is a place where students come to pursue their dreams and find out who they really are. For students who are financially independent, every penny counts. With rising costs of living expenses and the huge chunks of money required for college related costs, it can be hard for students to find the money necessary to check off everything on the ever growing list of costly essentials. One place students should be able to save money is when buying college textbooks.
A textbook for one class can easily cost $200, and for a student taking a full time course load, costs for books alone could reach $1,000. To put this in perspective, if a student budgets $200 a month for groceries, they have to choose between buying five months’ worth of food or buying five textbooks that they’ll only need for 14 weeks. Over the course of a 4-year degree, that’s close to $10,000 on textbooks alone! This is money that could be much better spent on important living expenses, like rent and transportation. For this reason, the faculty at Grand Rapids Community College should consider implementing alternatives when it comes to textbooks.
OpenStax College is a nonprofit company that provides their own sets of e-textbooks to colleges and students for free. They are able to make this happen thanks to a handful of foundations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and an entire staff of advisors and researchers. OpenStax currently offers 22 different textbooks on their website, openstaxcollege.org, with new textbooks in development all the time. The books they offer tend to be for the more expensive classes as well, like various science and math classes.
This could work for Grand Rapids Community College because it is already working at over 1,500 different high school and colleges across the country, including several in Michigan. The new textbooks could be implemented in stages as a trial run. Starting off with one or two classes using the books is sure to open up a new dialogue on how to bring down the rising price of textbooks. Even if it doesn’t replace all books, eventually the overall cost could be cut.
Besides being less expensive, there are other valid reason to make the switch to these new textbooks. Since OpenStax textbooks are e-books, there is no printing required. Saving hundreds of pages of paper per book is much better for the environment, which is a growing concern of today’s culture. Also, since they are e-books they are never out of stock and are available to download instantly, there is no need to wait for the textbooks to be shipped. Another result of having a selection of free textbooks is that it could force other local stores, like Brian’s Books, to price their selection more competitively, working in favor of students.
All it takes is one afternoon on the campus of Grand Rapids Community College to see there are real and unique struggles that each individual student goes through to achieve some sort of higher education. Although this would not be a solution for every class, it would be a great start. With some of the financial burden of school related costs covered, students are able to spend more time and energy on their studies and become the next generation of innovators and scholars.
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