Candid Karina

{January 24, 2012}   Back To School…or not.

Yesterday, I accompanied a friend of mine, who is returning back to school as an adult, to the local community college bookstore, so she could pick up 2 text books.


I graduated college 15 years ago (gulp), and haven’t taken a single college course since.  I have more than once considered going back to school for a graduate degree.  Very recently I started really considering doing this, and have spent some time indulging my “what if” scenarios.


I haven’t quite figured out what graduate degree program I’m inclined to return for, so, until I figure that out, I’m still in the “thinking about it” stage.  I’m in no rush.  I have a great job, and if I decided to never go back to school again, that would be just fine.  I don’t NEED a graduate degree.


But I think I might want one.


So, I’m thinking about it.


But, back to the bookstore.


Initially, as we walked in, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia.  Oh, how I remembered those days, the first few days of class, when everyone rushed to the bookstore between classes, searching for the last “used” book on the shelf, standing in endlessly long lines…only to pay out a small (not so small) fortune for a book you might, perhaps, open twice during the semester.


AH…college book prices.


No, I don’t miss that.  The wave of nostalgia quickly turned into a wave of nausea, as I recalled the struggle, every semester, to come up with the cash to pay for the books I would need to use in the already paid for (dearly) classes I was taking.


As I stood in that bookstore with my friend yesterday, and looked at the two TINY books she was required to pay.  And looked at her total… $160.  FOR TWO BOOKS.  I found myself getting so angry.


These books?  What material are they made of that makes them so valuable?  How does a 100 page “booklet” warrant a $70 price tag (for the USED version)?  Does it hold the secrets of the universe within its pages?


And this is a community college, not even a private university, an ivy league school.  I can’t even begin to imagine the cost of those books.


I remind you, I haven’t been in school in 15 years.  I remember the cost of books being ridiculous then, and I suppose with inflation and the like, in comparison, the prices are much the same.  But, I couldn’t then, and I certainly can’t now, wrap my brain around these prices.


Higher education is already so expensive.  The cost of college books baffles me.


And I find myself questioning (not for the first time) how this is legal.


And then, to add insult to injury, you take this $100 book, at the end of your semester, and sell it back to the bookstore, and maybe they give you $15 for it.  Maybe they give you $5.  And then they slap a “used” sticker on it, and turn around and sell it for $65.


Again…how is this legal?  Why is this accepted common practice?


I’m baffled.


And I’m thinking perhaps Grad school can wait…I’m not sure I’m prepared to waste my hard earned cash on a bunch of text books just yet…


Maybe I can find a photography class instead.  I’ll happily spend that money on a new camera…



Amber says:

Ya know, I was laying in bed the other night, pondering the mysteries of the universe with my husband, when I it occurred to me — WHY DO COLLEGES MAKE YOU TAKE SO MANY STUPID COURSES FOR DEGREES??
Bear with me on this, I’m off on a rant now!!
Every single degree has basic science, math and english, I get that. But there’s also required P.E. credits and required hours of electives and maybe Speech and whatnot.
Now I suppose in THEORY.. (I’m probably going to be using lots of caps for this…) the idea is to “create well rounded graduates.”


That’s why you have P.E., band, electives, government, foreign languages and all that jazz in high school. To create well rounded graduates. Who, in my opinion, should then take off to college to REFINE and COMPLETE their education — not take half of it over again. FOR A PRICE.

I don’t think every degree should **require** phys ed, electives, speech, etc. I think they should be available if you want to take them. But I think every degree should have a smaller number of required basics and then get to the point of training you in your chosen area. Because that’s what you go to college for. Right? I took Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Cal/Trig in high school yet I started (after taking the placement test to see if I was able to and didn’t need remedial math instead) back at Algebra 1. Why??? (I took that in 8th grade!!!) Maybe I could have clepped out of that but I found out too late because “what kind of math classes did you take in high school” wasn’t asked of me by a single counselor.


I had to take college chemistry or biology for an early elementary education degree — wouldn’t a basic general science class have made more sense? Oh and actually I first started as music major with intent to get certified to teach it (before I switched to teaching specializing in music.) Now THEY had the right idea. Start in on all these music classes from the getgo. Piano, Voice, Choir, Music Theory — except that you’re cramming that in on top of all the other stuff you don’t need – why do you need P.E. for a music degree? Hm? The whole thing is crazy.

And I didn’t even think about the cost of books but you have a very valid point. And I suspect the reason why their book costs are so are the same reason you have to take so many classes that have nothing to do with your degree.

Because they can.

Because they make more money that way.

And because if you want to go to college you’re going to pay it.

Okay, my rant is over now. You are SO RIGHT GIRL. And I think we’ve all just been looking the other way and let colleges rip everybody off. I’m Just Sayin.

And all that said — go for the photography class. Get some direct education in a subject area you’re actually interested in. =)

Karina says:

Well said Amber. I do agree with you on this! There is a lot to be said for a more “defined” education in what you REALLY want to learn, and none of that “filler”…

I never understood book prices either. It’s ridiculous!!

And a photography course with a big girl camera?? YES!!!!!!

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