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A question for university students

A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
Hi all. I'm a grade 12 high school student who will attend university in 3 months. I just want to ask, is having absolutely no textbooks a good idea for university? I'm asking because I don't wanna waste money on textbooks, and during high school I never really opened my textbook once and still did OK. So if someone who have gone through university without textbooks can just clarify whether that's a good idea that would be great. Thanks.
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A photo of coutrey coutrey
I would say it depends on the class and the teacher. Obviously in an English class you'll need the books (although I suppose if you could find the right copy in the library that'd work too). But I was in one history class where I never opened the book and was fine, and in another history class where it was extremely important to keep up on readings in the textbook. Really I'd just wait and see what the prof wants on the syllabus, and then sort of play it by ear.
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A photo of ktel ktel
Totally depends on the class. In some of my classes I can easily get away with no textbook, in others its necessary to have. Often because assignment questions are out of the textbook. You can get away sometimes with borrowing a friends or using the library copy (although I believe with the new copyright laws the libraries are no longer allowed to keep textbooks on reserve). I would definitely wait a while before buying the textbook to gauge whether it's necessary or not.
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A photo of CatRunner CatRunner
As the others have said, it depends on the prof and the course. It also depends on the university.

Some courses you really don't need the textbook, as the assignments and exams are based on the material taught in class, with the text only supplementing the lectures. Other courses, you absolutely need the textbook, either to do assignments, readings, etc. Some profs will examine you on some material in the textbook, even if they don't cover that material in class.

Some courses also have what are called "course packs" which are materials that the prof puts together and sells in the bookstore. These are generally very important to buy, as they contain material that the prof considers important.

For science courses, you will definitely need to buy lab manuals. They usually change year to year, so you can't get away with using an old one, or borrowing one.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on textbooks, look for used textbooks; they are usually a lot cheaper than new ones. Some universities are also starting to rent textbooks. That's another option, that again is a lot cheaper than buying new books. You can also try to share a textbook with someone who is taking the class with you - either a friend or someone living in the same rez as you. Finally, many texts have an e-text option - you can either buy or rent an electronic version of the text. Again, that will be cheaper than a traditional hard-copy textbook.

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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
I can get away with no textbook for most science courses but not for social science courses (where profs tend to test material found in assigned textbook readings). Definitely buy them off of older students, you save hundreds that way.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
You'll know after the first lecture. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BUY TEXTBOOKS UNTIL AFTER AT LEAST THE FIRST LECTURE. Also, try to get used textbooks. You will save lots of $$$ by doing this.
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A photo of littleroom littleroom

@mynameismattgotmlgo wrote
You'll know after the first lecture. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BUY TEXTBOOKS UNTIL AFTER AT LEAST THE FIRST LECTURE. Also, try to get used textbooks. You will save lots of $$$ by doing this.


+1. So many of my friends wasted $30-$50 each time they bought new textbooks. You should try to save every dollar when paying your university.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous
E-books are nice and free - you can highlight them and use the CTRL+F function to find key words and passages.
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A photo of ktel ktel
Some of my professors were really sensitive to the textbook issue, but some of them were just terrible. For example, basically making you buy a new copy, which is almost the same as an old edition except with different assignment questions. I also had one professor make us buy the textbook he wrote, which was the most budget looking textbook I have ever seen. Basically typed it in Word and printed it, then charged us $100....
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A photo of kiddinaround kiddinaround
You can save money by buying your textbooks on Amazon, or used, if budgeting is a concern.
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A photo of Zion Zion
Most of you are saying that textbooks depend on the class/professor, but how do you actually find out whether you need them? I doubt many professors would tell you the books aren't necessary, and is finding upper-years who have taken the same courses that easy?

Also, I don't think I could use electronic textbooks, even if they are cheaper. Reading on a screen doesn't hold my attention nearly as well as reading a physical piece of paper.
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A photo of ktel ktel
You go to a few classes and see how the professor structures the course. For example, most professors will assign homework out of the textbook, but only a few will post the questions online so that you could get by without a textbook. Stuff like that will help you decide.
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A photo of CatRunner CatRunner

@Zion wrote
Most of you are saying that textbooks depend on the class/professor, but how do you actually find out whether you need them? I doubt many professors would tell you the books aren't necessary, and is



You would be surprised. I've had plenty of profs tell us that the texts were recommended only, that they weren't necessary, unless we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the materials, or unless we were lacking in a specific area (or had done poorly in one of the pre-requisite courses). I had one prof tell us that the text was just for greater understanding of the material, because she found some students learned better when they were able to read about certain concepts before we covered them in class.

Of course, for other courses, the texts are absolutely necessary, and the profs let you know when that is the case. At least at Guelph, the profs understand that students are trying to save money, and many of them will even include the readings from both the current edition of a text and one edition older, so that students can try to save money by buying used editions.

Certainly at Guelph, the profs aren't trying to make things harder for us students, and they honestly let us know when the texts are absolutely required, and when they are only recommended or suggested.
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A photo of Anonymous Anonymous

@Zion wrote
Most of you are saying that textbooks depend on the class/professor, but how do you actually find out whether you need them? I doubt many professors would tell you the books aren't necessary, and is finding upper-years who have taken the same courses that easy?



Facebook is a good place to start networking with upper-year students and finding out if textbooks are necessary. Also, by university, you should get a sense of what your learning style is. Some people can get away with not reading textbooks at all (so they don't really need to buy them) and still do extremely well. Of course, that depends a lot on your area of study, but it is doable.


@Zion wrote
Also, I don't think I could use electronic textbooks, even if they are cheaper. Reading on a screen doesn't hold my attention nearly as well as reading a physical piece of paper.



I feel you on that one. I like holding a book or stapled sheets more than reading off of my computer screen, which strains my eyes. However, I also find it extremely useful and cost-effective to have an electronic version of some books, since I find that sometimes I don't really need the entire textbook at all to complete assignments or prepare for tests.

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A photo of SparklingBG SparklingBG
All students know that books are expensive. As stated above, it depends on the course and the professor. To avoiding having to buy books, check to see if your school's library puts textbook on course reserve. That way you can use the book for short periods of time to take notes on the weekly readings and you don't have to pay anything for it. The only negative side to this option is that the school might have a limit on the number of times per week you can take out the book as well as how long you can have it (i.e. 3 hours per day).
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A photo of waitaminute waitaminute
It really depends on the course. For me, most of my first year courses I needed to buy the books. This is VERY TRUE for language courses (you can't get away without the book). Poli Sci 1020E - some exam questions were solely from textbook. History 1401E- you could probably do without. I read every page and felt like I learned nothing. Lectures cover most. If you really don't want books, take Comp Sci 1033A/B (NO BOOK!)

Like others said, if you're worried about cost you can buy used copies at the book store. Also try kijiji or amazon. And a lot of people put postings on Facebook in used textbooks groups.
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