The True College Investment: Updated Textbook or Large Coffee?

I watched as so many gleaming faces began microscoping each posted flyer on my college’s eighth floor bulletin board that stretched from both sides of the classroom door openings. It was puzzling to see so many circling eyes penetrate the textbook flyers. It was clear that these undergraduates were anxious and thrifty about spending their money for books.

After about five seconds a trendy, fashionable girl walked past me with a Starbucks cup of iced coffee, size: Venti. Immediately I thought of visiting my favorite Starbucks but then remembered, I spent all of my week’s cash on books for English class.

There was no way I was getting Starbucks today. I continued to look on enviously as the girl sipped her coffee as if the size of her drink was no more than an average size.

I remember a few days ago as I nervously awaited my Business 1000 class. After the huge lecture hall interacted and engaged with our new professor, the “Chinese-looking Korean Professor Lee”, he mentioned something that I found to be quite thought-provoking. As he conversationally went over our syllabus, he made a remark about our textbook.

He stated that in business, information becomes obsolete quite quickly and it is important to purchase the most updated information. In effect, he stated it is best to buy the 9th, most current edition, of the business textbook. He didn’t want to help the publishers nor makes us spend too much. He adjusted his statement by saying, “If the choice is between the 9th edition textbook and your morning coffee or breakfast…Go with the cheaper 6th, 7th, or 8th.” His statement was really directed to the cases where an individual could not afford to pay for his/her books because it would interfere with having an indulgent lifestyle.

A Flyer Idea from the F’In Textbooks blog (click image to view the lowest prices for texbooks)

So have we as students gone too far? The list of college essentials is becoming larger. Mac computers are the new college must-have. And coffee has become an integral aspect of the college experience, as much as any textbook!

The F’in Textbook blog was created when three college students refused to pay outlandish prices for books that could be found for much less. Their “About Us” section states:

“Every time we spent a dollar on textbooks, it meant we were forgoing an extra drink at the bar, an extra hour with friends on the weekends, another slice of pizza at 4:17AM.”

Their mission is to help students find textbooks at the lowest price with one click.

Education expenses are becoming more and more challenging even though many of us look for the most bargains. Maybe it’s because we’re willing to cut costs for books and eyeball the cheapest prices for class materials. This is both a positive and negative. It’s negative when the publishers remake the same book each year with a different numbered edition. But when we look at updated textbook expenses as investments in ourselves, we should see no reason not to pay more for the best information.

I for one do not plan on giving up my morning Starbucks. Or to change my goal of attaining a Mac. But why not check for the cheapest price in our lifestyles? Why not consider the most updated edition of our textbook? Spending about five dollars daily on a special cup of coffee adds up. And getting a pizza at 4:17 am may be a bit unnecessary.

Bejeweled, Bedazzled Starbucks cups. Too much?

You might call me a bore, but remember education is an investment in ourselves. It is important to note the practicality of college living as much as the indulgence.


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