As an incoming freshman one of the most daunting and frustrating tasks entering the academic year was purchasing my own books. Previously, I’ve been guided by my school system as to which books were required or simply given the books directly by the school to be returned at the end of the year.
Now, after a plethora of mistakes I hope I can shed some light on how to get the right books without emptying out your wallet!
- Get your courses picked quickly. The first hurdle to getting your books is setting your schedule before all the textbooks fly off the shelves. Not a tremendous task, but waiting for special permission numbers or switching sections eats up valuable time.
- Use Barnes and Noble’s online Rutgers tools to SEE which books to buy. I emphasize see because please do not buy books from Barnes and Noble unless its the last resort – I’m not an econ major, but I’m convinced that 99.99% of Barnes and Noble’s profit is from freshman buying their textbooks because incoming students don’t know any better. ***However, their online tool for searching which books your class requires is outstanding. You can search 5+ class sections at Rutgers in their database and the website will tell you which books your professors want. It’s been reliable for me and every suggestion has been accurate.
- Now, record the specific textbook editions from Barnes and Noble and bring them to your professors to check if this is what they require. You might consider this step additional, but hey, better safe than sorry. Verifying your books now will save you from shipping books back and getting new ones – this is a hassle if you’re extraordinarily bad at using the Rutgers mail service (me).
- Order your books from Amazon if possible. Now that you know exactly which books you need – buy them here! This is the best case scenario because every student is eligible for Amazon’s 6-month free Prime trial which gives you FREE two day shipping. Believe me, that is convenience at its finest. Additionally, purchasing books on Amazon gives you a wide range of options that will often include the lowest prices for books.
- Stay away from renting books from Amazon. Unless you have done this before, I wouldn’t advise it. Unfortunately I have heard too many stories of people unable to return their books and having to pay if it is not sent back on time. Used books have been sufficient so far, don’t stress if you don’t want to rent or pay in full.
- Look around! Better deals could be out there online, but traditionally Barnes and Noble is on the expensive side and Amazon is more economic.
- Ask upperclassmen about which books you will actually use. There’s no one who can tell you how useful a textbook will be except a previous student. Get advice from upperclassmen on whether you really need certain books and this will save you a hefty amount of money. (Still regretting buying my $260 physics textbook, hopefully I will get some mileage out of it next semester).
–Devin Lorusso: Freshman in the Engineering Program. firstname.lastname@example.org