A Guide To Buying College Textbooks

Textbooks in college- what’s the deal with them? You’ll find such differing opinions when it comes to textbooks in college. Some will say you absolutely need them, others will say don’t bother buying them. Here’s a quick rundown on college textbooks and the different options you have! 

My first piece of advice is to wait until the second or third week of school to buy textbooks, if possible. This way you’ll know for sure that you’ll not only stay in the class, but you can also get a feel for whether or not you need the textbook. Take a look through all of your syllabi and see which assignments you’ll need the book for. Once you’ve weeded out your classes to know which you’re staying in and which you’re dropping, and know if you need the textbooks or not, you’ll have a better idea of how to obtain them. 

There are different types of textbooks you can find at a school: 

Regular books that you can purchase anywhere.

Books specific to the school, but can be used for general classes, even if taught by different professors. Typically these are only found in the school’s bookstore. 

Textbooks written by the professor specifically for that class only. These typically are a more “workbook” or interactive textbook, and only found new in the bookstore. 

E-books for all of the above, if available.

Person Holding Stack of Books

The different ways to purchase them: 

New and from the bookstore (typically the most expensive way to buy books)

Used and from the bookstore (saves money, but there are also cheaper ways) 

Rented, either from the bookstore if they allow this option, or from a service such as Chegg, Thriftbooks, or Knetbooks. 

Purchase used from Amazon, other textbook online services, or on local classified pages. Many colleges will have a Facebook page to buy/sell textbooks, too. 

Using the school bookstore isn’t the end-all for buying college textbooks! Look online to find books where you can. There are so many companies out there that realize how expensive college is and want to cut you a deal where they can. Look into these companies! 

A few other tips:

Try to rent or buy used when you can. It saves money, and saves the environment! Win, win.

If it’s a class that is specific to your field of study and seems like one you may want to reference later in life, try to buy it used instead of renting so you don’t have to return it later. 

Another great way to save money is to split the cost of a textbook with a friend or roommate that is attending the same class as you,  as long as it can easily work out for both of you to use it for readings and assignments. 

There are specific scholarships out there too that will fund your textbook needs. Search for those and apply. Other scholarships can go towards any school expenses, also including textbooks. 

Textbooks don’t have to break you financially! There are ways to save money and be smart financially if you’re willing to put in a little time and research. 

What is your favorite way to find textbooks? 

Choosing A College: Some Tips For Seniors

Choosing a higher education school can be so daunting sometimes! First you have to decide on a trade school vs a university. And then once you’ve decided that, a whole list of options come up. It’s overwhelming. But here are some tips for you! 

  • Narrow it down to an area if you can. Decide if it’s important for you to stay close to home or choose a school far away. 
  • Look at schools based on what majors they offer/ what majors they are known for. For example- I graduated with my undergrad from Utah State University because I wanted a degree in Elementary Education. In Utah, USU is very prestigious and well-known for their education program, which was ultimately a big swaying factor in my decision. 
  • Dive into the social aspect/ campus life and decide how important it is for you to attend events, sports, etc. College is about the experience AND the education! And not all college campuses are created equal when it comes to social gatherings. 
  • Talk with current students or past grads about schools you are interested in. Hearing about their experience or opinions can help you make a final decision. 
  • Keep a list of potential options. You may find one school that is everything you want! But the reality is, you still have to apply and become accepted into the school before you can go, in most cases. If you don’t get into your dream school, keep a few others in mind for back up. 
  • Remember that you’re not making a decision based on good vs. bad. You’re deciding between good, better, and best. Whichever school you choose is a great option and can hopefully have you leaving with a great experience and a college degree. It’s hard to make a bad decision when choosing a college! 

Pros and cons lists of schools can also be helpful to make a decision. Let us know what school you are choosing to go to in the comments below! 

Cover photo from pexels.com

A Quick Guide To Financial Aid

Financial aid. Do those two words give anyone else anxiety? When I was a senior in high school, they did for me! The thought of having financial aid is great! But the idea to put the work into getting financial aid can be daunting. Let me see if I can ease some of your fears! 

Let’s start with a definition. What is financial aid? Many will think it’s just grants or loans from the government, or FAFSA. But it can be more than that! It can also be grants and loans from private entities, as well as scholarships from your school or other organizations. Any additional money you receive to help pay for school is financial aid. 

So how can YOU obtain financial aid to help pay for your schooling? 

Search for and apply for scholarships

Apply for FAFSA. If you have questions or need help filling out their application, ask a parent, guidance counselor, teacher, or other trusted adult for help. FAFSA includes grants (money you don’t have to repay) and loans (money you have to repay). Even if you don’t plan on taking out loans, you should still at least apply to see if you can qualify for grants. Applying is free. 

If you are employed, talk to your HR to see if they have any programs that help pay for school while you work. 

Search for scholarships- again! 

Apply for our Design A Better Future scholarship. 

Look into your specific university, trade school, or community college to see if they have any grants or scholarships you can apply for. 

Applying and searching for financial aid can be a lot of time, work, and effort. However, if you are willing to put that time and effort into it, you may be surprised what reward you get out of it! 

What other questions do you have about financial aid that we can answer for you? 

Have You Heard About Our Scholarship?

Hello! McKenzie here with some news! Not only can I say I am an educational blogger, but I am now a scholarship chairperson! Honors Graduation does a very generous scholarship every year, they hand out five $10,000 scholarships to high school seniors attending college the next school year. You can read more about the scholarship here. 

I’ve always wanted to be part of a scholarship organization in some way since college. I was fortunate to receive many scholarships, both large and small amounts, throughout my four years and have felt inclined in some way to provide this for other college students. I know first hand the excitement and relief that comes with the award of scholarship money. When presented with the opportunity to be on the scholarship board for Honors Graduation I was thrilled, to say the least! 

The scholarship outline is to design a better future. Students create a project in their community that better it in some way. This is the second reason I love being here for this! One of my strengths is to look around at a situation and think, “How can I improve this?” When I was in high school I worked in the Sears shoe department where I was constantly moving shelves, reorganizing, and making the process more efficient for all, my supervisor loved it! 

As I’ve been researching this scholarship and reading about every past winner, I had a light bulb moment that I am unknowingly conducting my own design a better future project that I am excited to share with you soon. Stay tuned! And until then, check out our scholarship and see how you, or a high school senior you know, can win $10,000! 

Cover photo by Lacey Ross Photography

My Book Review on “College READY: Get The Most Out Of Your College Experience”

High school and college students, this post is for you! Teachers and professors of high school and college students, you’ll want to listen too. I recently read a book targeted toward high school seniors, but I believe is beneficial to any students, even those well into college. 

College READY: Get The Most Out Of Your College Experience by Mitchell Nicholes is a book written by a recent college graduate who takes apart different parts of college step by step in an easy to read and comprehend way. He covers topics such as discovering you why for college, setting SMART goals, and the ins and outs of funding and financial aid in college. The writing is fairly casual, making it a text that doesn’t need to be deciphered, the information comes across easy and sometimes in bullet points for ease. And with only 37 pages, putting this in the hands of students would not be overwhelming. By the end of the book, they should feel confident in knowing more about schooling, budgeting, and goal setting. 

It covers a vast audience, not just high school seniors. Researching college and the preparation it entails can start at younger ages before high school. And on the other end of the spectrum, students beyond their freshman year in college can benefit from this book too. I was well into my sophomore year of college before financial aid was even on my radar, and this book would have been a great tool in my research on what FAFSA was and the jargon it brings along with it, which is why this book needs to be in the hands of every student with undergrad and graduate schooling on their minds.

There is a whole chapter on career choice and progression, and that itself is why any college student at any level needs this as well. He covers everything from choosing the correct career for you to figuring out salary after graduation. If you won’t take my word for it that this book is worth your time, take it from a paragraph in the book itself: 

“The sole purpose of this book is to equip you with the knowledge and tools to get the most out of your college experience and set you up for success in life. So many people go through different journeys in their life without a plan, and essentially just end up “somewhere.” Think of this book as a guide. Utilize the knowledge you learned to discover what you need to do to get the most out of your college experience and set yourself up for success in life!’

-Mitchell Nicholes

You can buy the paperback or Kindle version of this book on Amazon. 

Tips For Graduating College Students

College graduation has recently come for many students and is still in anticipation of other seniors with graduation in the spring. This time of life can come with a mixture of emotions- excitement that college lectures are a thing of the past, worries for future plans, or fear of the unknown. I have asked trusted friends, family, and colleagues their best advice for graduating college students and have come up with this collective list of important things to remember during this big change in your life. 

  1. Stop stressing about a job. The most typical response by far was to stop stressing about jobs and career paths after graduation. There are a vast amount of options each major in school can lead you. Jobs will open up and work out, while others that seem perfect may slip through your fingertips. Important things to remember while job searching after graduation:
  2. The perfect job rarely exists. Which is okay because it leads to my next point.
  3. You most likely will not be in this job for a lifetime. Gone are the days where you choose a career path and stick with the same occupation until retirement. Typically, people spend 3-5 years in the same job before getting promoted or finding a new job. If you don’t find the perfect job, it’s okay because it will likely change. 
  4. Finding an entry-level job right after graduation doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay. Keep searching and putting in the effort, don’t let the pressure of a graduation date stress you out about a job. You’re young, take time to explore, travel, or even find experience in your field to land a great job later in life. 
  5. You can choose to be passionate about whatever job you end up in. Take it from my husband, who grew up on a farm surrounded by cows, horses, and corn. He graduated with a degree in Business Administration and landed his first job managing a warehouse in a rental company for wedding supplies. If a farm boy from Utah can have a full conversation about chivari chairs and 90” round ivory tablecloths one day and then be sad the next day when he says goodbye to the company while he changes his career back to his roots in an agriculture-based company, anyone can be passionate about anything. 
  6. The years went faster than you thought they would. College graduation is already here? How did four (or three, or five) years go by so fast? They really do happen in a blink of an eye. 

Studying a subject that brings excitement into your life at a university can be so rewarding. You’ve spent hours and days in classrooms, taking notes, studying flashcards, cramming for tests, and collaborating with peers. Finally, it’s your day to shine and be recognized by many for the accomplishment you’ve made. If I were to leave one last tip, it would be this: walk at your graduation ceremony. Take the day to wear the cap and gown, show off your school’s tassel, and pose for every picture your family and friends want to take. You just dedicated four years of your life to studying and passing classes, you deserve this day. Congratulations, graduate!