Image from Flickr.

Image from Flickr.


You have to pay for tuition, rent, food, among a bajillion other things. You may have taken out loans and don’t intend on burying yourself with more debt. The college life is not exactly the most luxurious and so you need to do all that you can in order to stay financially stable. If you don’t already know, school books aren’t your best friends if you have to pay for them. They just stab at your wallet deeply and relentlessly. Here are some tips to keep your financial sanity intact…somewhat.

Required Reading Materials

So you look at the syllabi for your classes this semester and see that you need a total of 28 required textbooks, three course readers, and two access codes. Your wallet is sobbing as you read down each list. Though it may be tantalizing to buy all of these at the convenience of your campus bookstore, you’re already on a tight budget and need to cut corners wherever you can. If you’re thinking of renting from the campus bookstore, most of the time doing so may not even be worth it.

Anyhow, first things first: never buy any materials prior to the first day of class unless specifically asked to by your professor. You’ll not only save yourself the hassle of having to return books that your professor announces you actually don’t need, but professors may allow you to use older editions and students who have previously taken the class will have just barely put their old texts online for sale. Once you have a concrete list of all the materials you need, the first thing I would suggest to do is to scour the internet and see if you can find PDFs of the books you need. For what’s left or if you’re like me and learn better by having a hard copy available, your school most likely has a Facebook “Free and For Sale” group that you can scour through to find the texts, access codes, and any other resources you may need. Professors rarely change the syllabus each semester, so you’ll definitely save yourself a ton by buying a secondhand edition from a previous student.

If you know ahead of time that for example, you’ll only be needing a couple chapters out of your thousand-page textbook, you could also borrow that text from a fellow classmate and photocopy those sections. If all else fails and you still have a few materials to get, then I would opt to purchase from the campus bookstore. It may be expensive, but if you need it, then you need it. Do not buy anything unless you absolutely have to and it is your last option. Know that sometimes the bookstore may have a good deal, but most often than not, that is not the case.

Academic Services

The best mindset to any education is to ask for help when you need it. Most schools should have a multitude of on-campus academic centers that offer drop-in hours and study groups for a variety of classes and majors.

The only better resource would be your professor or graduate student instructor for the course. They have office hours and would be able to give you the best help in clarifying specific concepts you may be struggling with. Most of the time, they are just sitting in their office, waiting for students to drop in, but most don’t show because they are either intimidated or cannot make the set times. You shouldn’t be intimidated and should make your best effort to visit them. They genuinely want to help you and you’ll only be ahead of everyone else who doesn’t take advantage of office hours.

Asking friends who have previously taken the course for assistance may also be a good bet. The best things about all of these are that they are completely free of cost and are super effective and efficient. Do not wait until the night before your exam to get help as you won’t get as far as you want and will only give yourself a bigger headache. Figure out the resources available to you ahead of time and be sure to take advantage of them if you want to maximize your semester.

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the author

Kelly is a sophomore studying Microbial Biology and Business Administration at the superCALifragilisticexpialidocious University of California, Berkeley. Much of her free time involves Miranda Sings impressions, puns, the woods, concerts, and Netflix. Also food. Always food. Food is bae.

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