With a new semester around the corner, the Emporia State community is preparing for a fresh term.
One of the biggest tasks on many students’ to-do lists is to order their textbooks.
The Memorial Union Bookstore is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. during the summer and will be open Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. once the semester starts for students to order and pick up the books they need.
Michael McRell, manager of the store, suggests that if students don’t know where to start in their search for textbooks, go to the bookstore’s official website. There, students can find all the information they need for their books including what is required, if the book is available for rent or purchase, and students can even order their books directly from the website.
“If you do an online order,” said Laura Tholen, assistant manager of the store. “You can either ship your books, or pick them up in store and so especially if you're traveling or something, you can order them while you're still at home, and then come to town and then just pick them up.”
If a student purchases a book through the bookstore’s website and picks it up in store, they will need to bring their student ID with them in order to take their order, according to Tholen.
All classes are a little different when it comes to how they use the textbooks. This can cause anxiety or confusion for students when they are trying to decide which books to order and when.
Taten Rooks, sophomore physical education major, said his experience with professors has been “50/50” and he has had some classes where he was told to get the book and only used it a few times.
Brian Hollenbeck, professor of mathematics and economics, has also heard stories of students getting to a class and finding out a book wasn’t really required, but for his classes, a required book isn’t a suggestion.
“You know, for me, if I say the book’s required, then I expect them to have it the first day,” Hollenbeck said. “Because, you know, we start things the first day, so if you don't have the book, then you're gonna be behind.”
Rob Catlett, associate professor of mathematics and economics, differs from Hollenbeck in that he allows the students to choose what textbook they will use on the first day of class. This allows for the students to feel a sense of control over the class and increases their willingness to use the book, Catlett said. This also helps the class choose a book everyone can afford.
While this may sound stressful for incoming students while they are ordering books, Catlett sends out an email to all his students beforehand so they know they don’t need to worry about books before the start of term.
Hollenbeck suggests that if a student is concerned about their books, they should just contact their professor directly and ask.
Once students do find the books they need, price can be a major concern.
Some professors, like Hollenbeck and Catlett, work with students in order to help them with pricing.
“I try to use old editions when I can,” Hollenbeck said. “So if they can find an old copy, then that's not as much of an issue. There's one class I teach (math modeling) where the book is really expensive so I've gotten to making that optional, to help out with that. And then in some situations, I'm able to use PDFs that are out there. So (I) tried to do different things to help with that.”
Some departments and classes, like calculus, are starting to use OER (SPELL) textbooks, according to Hollenbeck. Sites like openstax are used by professors like Catlett in order to supply students with free textbooks and resources.
If students want to find their book in the campus bookstore, they do have the option to price match to select stores like Amazon itself and Barnes & Noble.
“The bookstore always gets the reputation as they're the expensive ones,” McRell said. “But when you really look at it, and you do a book by book, there are many times that were a lot less expensive than the online because it really depends on whether or not we have used and whether or not where the book is in its lifetime.”
Books vary dramatically in price, from only a few dollars to over $300, but the most expensive textbooks as a whole are “definitely the business books,” according to McRell.
While the workers in the bookstore are happy to help students if they have any questions or want to price match a book, the bookstore cannot use financial aid to help students pay for books, according to McRell.
“ESU does not allow financial aid to be directly distributed to the bookstore for students to use for payment of books,” McRell said. “I would say that is probably the biggest question, we get time and time and time again.”
If students have any questions or concerns about their textbooks, they can call the campus bookstore at (620) 341-5214, go in person, or contact their professors directly with their questions.
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