Awesome ways to save on textbooks and learning material

Beyond buying a home, financing a college or university teaching can be one of the most expensive investments a person ever makes. As college costs expensive and student loan debt receives increased media attention, it is easy to overlook the unadvertised expenses associated with required university textbooks and other teaching materials, even when pursuing an online degree program.

In fact, the average cost for books is estimated at $1,200 per year for a full-time student – a 74 percent increase in just the past decade.

Online Students

Awesome ways to save on textbooks and learning material

Her are six considerations to assist online students access, budget for and work well within the changing and potentially expensive landscape of college text books.

Don’t assume:

Just because your classes are online does not mean the program won’t require traditional textbooks. Dan Darnley, an online Expert of Music Education candidate at SUNY—Buffalo State, says he was stunned when he learned that some of his courses required purchasing physical workbooks or textbooks.

“I assumed all the required resources would be embedded in the LMS,” Darnley says.

Several online programs still need purchasing either printed e-texts or text books. Southern New Hampshire University has an online book store where prospective students or students can browse by course, sell or purchase back books.

The checkout cart adds shipping costs just like Amazon. This is an excellent resource for all online students to use to estimate a text book budget for each class or semester.

Choose textbook format wisely:

Despite research that says students choose traditional print books when cost is not a factor, Darnley says, “As an online student, e-texts are considerably easier to work with than printed textbooks. I would prefer a printed textbook if I was physically attending classes, but as an onliner, I prefer digital.” He says he uses cloud-based storage to have access anywhere to e-texts, assignments, notes, citations, videos, articles and other data.

Inquire about textbook costs prior to enrolling:

Some colleges will factor a textbook allowance into tuition, while some forward-thinking colleges have built textbook expenses directly into a fee.

Ginger Bidell, an instructional designer at Western Governors University, wrote in an email, “To make sure that Western Governors University students have access to all of their learning materials, we charge students a $145 Resource Fee for each and every sixth-month term. This fee covers the use of the online library, e-textbooks, and lots of other learning resources like web-based tutorials, simulations, practice quizzes, simulations, and assignments. Through the online library, students have access to tutorials as well as journals, magazines, newspapers, videos and e-books.”

Leverage open educational resources:

In response to spiraling text book costs, entities such as OpenStax, Lumen Learning, MERLOT II and Saylor Academy provide high-quality, peer-reviewed text books and other learning materials at little or no cost to students. These open educational resources are rapidly gaining favor among faculty and students.

If online courses use open educational resources, students will usually save considerably. It also worth browsing through these curated collections to see if whether you can access some of your recommended or required course readings for free.

Turn to the public or university library for help:

As an online learner, it is worth investigating whether you can place library books on reserve or access library subscription databases – such as JSTOR or Elsevier – online.

Beyond the university library, local public libraries also provide patrons vast databases that are accessible online. A library card may also permit you to access your $300 business text books for free.

Be a shrewd consumer:

Inquire with the college books store about renting instead of purchasing text books. Students can also purchase text books at any book store – not just the college bookstore.

Online students might save money on shipping costs by shopping the local college campus or any other book store, even if they attend a different online university. Also, send mail to the professor prior to the semester to ask if the edition of the textbook actually matters is worthwhile. In some cases, the difference between the older edition and the latest edition is hundreds of dollars.

Last, when selling back printed textbooks after the semester, shop around. Students do not need to sell textbooks back at the store in which they were purchased.

The takeaway: College text books costs can be considerable. While some online programs are regularly working to manage textbook costs, others haven’t yet fully leveraged the learning management system, open education resources and online library databases. Online learners require being informed, planning to manage text book costs and seek and secure the best textbook options available to enable their own success.

Some Important Money saving tips for Financially Struggling Students

If you’re a college student you already know how tight finances can get. After tuition, books, fees and other expenses related to your education materials are met, you likely find yourself limited on money. This is, if you are not already living off negative balances in your account.

The good news is there are various ways or tips you can try and counter your money struggles to put yourself in a goof financial position. To decrease your financial burdens it takes some positive planning and some work, but with this effort you can successfully ease the burden of your money struggles, keep a positive balance in your account and not end up carrying too much debt.

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Here are some important tips and ways for Financially Struggling Students-

Apply for financial aid and work study programs:

This is a smart move even if you think you won’t qualify due to your parents’ income, or if you’re working, your own salary. Several students pass up the opportunity to file for financial aid for several reasons and this is one of the biggest oversights students make. Even if you do not qualify for full tuition, you might be granted some money which may at least cover partial tuition or even some books, but you will never know unless you apply!

If you are denied financial aid, by at least filing you are also generally eligible for low interest loans which will save you in the long run. Several students are also offered work study chances which also relieve financial distress as you are given a job without having to pound the pavement looking for one.

Apply for Scholarships:

Several foundations and corporations generously give away thousands each and every year, but lots of students aren’t aware these wonderful opportunities exist. If you take the time to ask your college’s financial office about scholarships and do some extra research on the websites, it is probable you will find numerous scholarships you can apply to. It is a lot of work, but worth the effort.

There are various excellent sites dedicated to scholarship searches. Most will ask you to register first, but stay away from sites which ask you for any sort of payment as most reputable scholarship search engines will never ask for money.

Buy used text books:

The required and important textbooks for classes can result in severe sticker shock if you buy books at the university bookstore, but you can simply cut these costs in half if you buy used books. Several students are extremely happy to sell their used textbooks to you at a fraction of what you’d pay for new. Another good avenue is to search online; the Internet is a superb opportunity to comparison shop and finds good prices for used books.

Sell your text books:

Once you are finished up for the semester, place your textbooks up for sale while they still have some value before new textbook editions come out. Place flyers at your college, network with other students and organize a swap, or put them up for sale on website which facilitates used book sales.

Eat on the cheap:

Food is a huge area many students spend money on and if you are not playing it smart, you are probably throwing money away. Take-out, vending machines and pre-made foods are more costly than if you were to just make it yourself. If you live in the dorm, stick to a purchased meal plan or/and create a small pantry area to keep food; preparing your own snacks and foods is cheaper and more nutritious too.

Students who live at house or are a returning non-traditional student with parents, it is easier to prepare your own foods from home. One trick is to reserve few hours a week to cook several meals and stock up in the freezer; this makes homemade meals a snap on those days where you are tempted to order-in or go out to eat. By avoiding purchasing take-out, this will save lots of money. It is healthier for you too.

Don’t shop on credit and pay cash wherever possible:

It is common for students to get stuck in the abyss of credit cards when so many are offer tempting low introductory rates or free gifts. Do not fall for these ads! Several students find themselves severely in debt once they start opening many accounts because it is much harder to keep track of spending when you use plastic. Instead, keep one card for emergency use only and make every effort to pay it off monthly when the bill arrives.

Live within your means:

Maintain a running balance of what you are spending money on and how much, even for the small things you usually wouldn’t account for like a bag of chips, a bottle of your favorite beverage and some gum. You’d be stunned how much you spend and if you keep rightful track of your money, you will quickly discover where your limitations are. This is where you can cut out wasteful spending. Once you see where your money is really going, you can create a budget which will assist you keep better track of unnecessary spending and then you can put that money back in your account.

Keep an eye on your monthly expenses:

Do you actually need those extras on your mobile plan? If you have your own account, do you need all those cable channels which cost additional per month? Gas can be a huge expense, are you taking your car when you can walk? Can you take campus transportation instead? By examining where your money goes each month for regular essential expenses, you can simply pinpoint ways you can cut back and save money.

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Financially Struggling Students

Research student discounts:

Many programs or/and companies provide student discounts on books, computers, travel accommodations, electronics and even movie tickets for the occasional night out. Look for shops that offer student discounts. Most of the time all you will need is to have your student ID on you for verification.

Money struggles are tough when you are in college, but by taking a proactive approach to money and plan your expenses, it will be a lot easier to manage your money and keep away from coming out of college in massive debt for unnecessary expenses. Some of these above tips for financially weak students should increase your cash flow, at least a bit.

Some important tips for students on Spring College Admission

Not all university or college fresher students begin school in the fall. Several students may elect to pursue spring college admissions, while others can be asked to defer entry by their university or college. If you find yourself in this position, there are various unique considerations that you and your parents should take into account.

Policies and deadlines are school-specific:

There is no universal policy for a spring admission in the U.S. Harvard University, for instance, doesn’t allow spring admissions. Cornell University provides spring admissions to transfer students and to a portion of its prospective freshman class. The university asks roughly 125 students to delay their arrival until spring, when extra space is available on university campus.

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Other schools have completely separate admissions application and pools dates for the spring semester. Begin to research the policies at those colleges that interest you most well in advance. Review the admissions site, but do not be shy about calling the admissions department if you require extra information. Spring admission application deadlines can range, so be certain that you know accurately when they are.

There may be less competition:

Some universities and colleges receive more admission applications in the fall than in the spring. By opting for spring college admissions, you may notice that there are fewer students competing for a limited number of seats.

While the precise size of the advantage is hard to quantify, if your heart is set on attending a reach college, this may be a means of increasing your chances of entry or of getting a next chance if your fall application doesn’t succeed.

The fall months are still critical:

If you plan to start university in the spring, don’t allow the fall after school graduation go to misuse or waste. Living at house and working to save tuition money is one choice. You may also be able to take classes at a special college, such as a community college, during the fall semester.

If you want to do so, be sure to speak with your intended Four-Year University first, as not all credits transfer equally. Before you register in a course, double-check that it will be accepted come spring.

The social impact may be slight:

One of the mainly feared aspects of spring college admissions is how many of the freshman bonding experiences that you will miss. The effect you feel will vary considerably with freshman programming and school size.

Colleges with recognized spring entry programs may house their spring entry students in the same residence halls, with enroll them in the same freshman orientation. Your circle of students will be smaller initially, but the strength of your shared experiences will still make for strong bonds.

Memorize, too, that each and every new class is a chance to meet new students. After even a single spring semester, you will no longer be at a social disadvantage.

Academic timelines may or may not vary:

Your educational plan likely will not suffer much from matriculating in the spring. You should still plan on graduating after final semesters, but it may be possible to attend a summer and winter session if you wish to take part in May graduation.

The more important impact may be on the availability of classes. Again, this will vary from college to college. Some universities may offer freshman-level introductory classes in all semesters. At others, certain prerequisite courses may only be provided in the fall. Introductory biology, for instance, is often taught as a two-semester series.

The worst case if that you may need to take several of your general education needs during the spring semester and then begin your major track the following fall. Speak with your university adviser to determine if any particular scenarios will apply to you.

Financial aid access may also differ:

Some colleges that provide spring admissions guarantee the same access to financial aid as students applying under fall admissions. Still, this may not always be the situation, and certain independent scholarships may also assume a fall start date.

Again, research the rules for your exacting situation. Talk to any independent agencies that are providing you aid, and tell them in advance of your plan to start university in the fall. You can find that they have some flexible space and they are willing to work with you.

If there is one theme central to this advice, it is that every college differs in how – or if – it handles spring colleges admissions. Whether applying in the spring is a deliberate choice on your part, or a request from the university or college, planning can ensure your non-traditional start works in your favor.

Starting college in the fall is not the only path to success. Matriculating in the spring likely won’t have a negative effect on your social circles or academic calendar.

Important tips to help student manage their stress during exam time

Young Minds activist Alice Victor discusses the pressure she feels during examination time and how parents and teachers can support students through the stress.

Don’t stay silent:

As teachers or parents, you know that your student or kid express themselves in special ways. Talking about their mental health is no different, so do not ignore any comments a young student makes, however brief, even if something seems like a bit of class room banter. Everyone has various sensitivity levels, and what you might disregard as a throwaway comment could be the tiniest hint of a much bigger issue.

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Do not keep quiet about it, either. Open up a dialogue with the young student about the comment they made. A small, sympathetic action like this might motivate them to speak up about something that goes much deeper.

Be open:

It is obviously significant that your kids respect you and that you maintain a professional relationship. However, when talking about mental health and stress, it helps to memorize that we are all human. Interact with kids as you would anyone else not as young people who are poles apart from you. Avoid being patronizing or condescending by being as honest or open as possible.

What was most useful to me during exam time was to hear honest – and sometimes exposing – examples of mental health struggles and stressful situations, both from my peers and from the adults I looked up to. It helped me to know that I was not alone.

Don’t put too much pressure on us:

I went to a college or school renowned for its educational reputation. Despite proving my aptitude by getting into the school, throughout my time there I felt constant pressure to exceed the expectations of my teachers and parents, and to live up to the successes of my peers. Students think about their future and want to do best at college and beyond. They put sufficient pressure on themselves, without anyone else adding to it.

Offer practical support:

It is significant to acknowledge the emotional strain a student might be feeling in the run-up to tests, but practical support is just as important. When I was dealing with exam stress, the difficult thing for me was discovering everyday strategies to assist me cope with the pressure. The strategy I found most helpful were:

Planning a sensible revision time table not just one that shown the amount of revision I felt I ought to be doing.

Learning to have confidence in my own strength and targ             eting my revision towards the topics and subjects I struggled with. This may sound obvious, but it can be hard to accept the things you are bad at and even harder to put effort and time into getting better at them.

Not wasting time on the “shoulds” and “ought tos”. When I lastly ignored what my friends were doing and used my revision period to focus on myself, I enhanced faster and I am not fleeing stressed. But as a student, it is not uncommon to be sucked in to the world of your peers, mainly with the 24/7 nature of social media. Having someone to support you with realizing your own priorities can be extremely helpful.

Motivate young people to reach out:

Many of my peers, included me, took a long time to ask for any help. In my case, this made me retreat further from the outside world, leaving me feeling more stressed and isolated.

While a lot of students feel increased levels of stress in the run-up to examinations, some individuals also have to cope with mental health conditions or special educational needs during exam time.

You might not be the only person able to provide support to your students: friends, parents, and mental health experts may also be on hand. If you see a student is struggling, maybe you could be the person who gently pushes them to seek the assist they need.

These are just few practical tips that worked for me. I am not saying they will work for everyone, but several of my friends found that related ideas helped them revise in a more productive way and cope better with examination-related stress.

 It is vital to acknowledge the emotional strain a student may feel in exam time, but practical revision tips are also important.

Adopt the Revised ACT, SAT for Your Success

One of the most general decisions you face as a high school sophomore, senior or junior is whether to take the ACT or SAT exam. Although the universities you are applying to may play a role in determining which exam to register for, you should also consider your strengths as a student and test-taker when deciding which standardized test to prepare for and take.

Because both the ACT and SAT have experienced revisions in past years, old analyses of “Should I take the ACT or SAT?” may not have much validity.

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For example, the new SAT exam has added a “no calculator” part, returned to its original scoring scale of 1600 and eliminated the guessing penalty. Furthermore, the updated ACT test has made changes to its scoring – such as now giving a STEM score for the math and science sections and an English language score – as well as major changes to its writing portion.

Reconsider content-based decisions:

Recent ACT and SAT revisions have resulted in significant changes to the content that each exam assesses. As a result, consider re-evaluating any content-based decisions you may have made based on the examinations’ previous versions.

If you struggle with science, for example, you may have firstly chosen the SAT because it does not have a science portion. While the redesigned SAT exam still lacks a dedicated science section, the evidence-based writing and reading section now contains passages that examine scientific topics.

Similarly, if the arcane vocabulary that the SAT test previously used prompted you to favor the ACT, note that the College Board – the organization behind the SAT exam– has made vocabulary on the redesigned SAT test more modern and relevant to high school students. The examination also places a greater importance on deducing the meaning of a specific word from the surrounding context, rather than just memorizing its definition. This can ultimately assist you develop stronger comprehension skills and focus more on the complete and detailed  picture, rather than just relying on rote memorization of particular details.

Evaluate question types:

Not only do the ACT and SAT test slightly different sets of knowledge, they also use subtly different kinds of questions. It is thus vital to recognize and assess your own weaknesses and strengths as a test-taker and then choose the test with questions that best play to your strengths.

The optional writing portion on both tests ACT and SAT is a great illustration of this principle. If you tend to do fine when asked to elaborate on a single topic or passage, the redesigned SAT test may be preferable to you. Its Fifty-minute essay section presents a passage and asks you to analyze how the author supports and builds a specific argument.

If, on the other hand, you do well when contrasting and comparing multiple viewpoints or passages, the ACT exam may be more in line with your skill set. Its Forty-minute section provides you with 3 different perspectives on single issue and asks you to evaluate those opinions with develop your own stance and clarify how it relates to the other viewpoints.

Weigh your prior preparation:

If you have been studying for the ACT or SAT exam for some time, then you have likely been preparing at least in part for the examination’s prior version.

While there are rare instances when you may have fine reason to switch from one exam to the other – for instance, you have focused mainly on one content area that is being determine and replaced that the other exams better suits your weaknesses and strengths – remaining with the test you have prepared for is typically the greatest option. The tests are changing, but they are not changing so much that preparation for one would now make more sense than for the other.

The recent revisions to the ACT and SAT exam may alter your original assessment of the examinations. When deciding which test to take and submit to universities, factor in the redesigned elements of both exams, in addition to your weaknesses and strengths, before you make your final decision.

Students who prepared for ACT or SAT tests’ previous versions may want to reassess their test-taking weaknesses and strengths.

Even with the ACT and SAT exams redesigns, it may be good for students to stick with the test they have been preparing for.

Pros and Cons of Declaring a STEM Major on Your College Application

In recent years, science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields have been growing fast. With the increased emphasis on STEM, admission to university STEM majors has become extremely competitive.

If you’re hoping for admission to a STEM-field focused major, you may plan to show this focus on your university applications. Still, you may have benefit in applying as an undeclared major and waiting until your sophomore or freshman year to declare a STEM major. Before deciding your course of action, consider following four questions.

Is admission to a STEM major more complex as a high school student?

The particular universities or colleges you apply to and the quality of the application profile will find the answer to this question. However, you should surely research this further before deciding to declare a STEM major on your university or college application.

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Some schools may motivate you to declare you’re major as a high school senior student; others may hope to see your freshman-year performance – including in one or more STEM classes – before admitting you to your selected major. Also think about speaking with former or current STEM students to ask which path they found most advantageous.

Is the timing and complexity of admissions consistent across all STEM fields?

Not all STEM fields are similarly competitive. Whether you should declare your interest in a STEM major during the university application procedure will depend, to some extent, on the competitiveness of the school’s specific program. Careful research can assist you make an informed decision.

Investigate and examine the specific STEM major you are determine and considering whether admission to this program is less or more competitive than admission to others in the field. You may be able to get this information via an internet search, and you may need to contact the admissions office at each college or school that interests you.

Be sure to also ask whether declaring a major on your college application could give you an advantage. If several students wait to declare this major as university sophomores, for example, you may have benefits applying as a high school senior student with a declared major.

Does an undeclared major sacrifice you a year or more of support?

Certain STEM departments at several universities may offer support – such as scholarships, access to subject-specific databases or networking and libraries opportunities – that are exclusive to declared majors. If you find this to be the case through your research, you may want to indicate your intended major on your application, even if this does not provide you any admissions advantage.

For instance major-specific scholarships available only to incoming freshmen student can be excellent opportunities to assist pay for university, mainly if you are sure about your course of study. And do not dismiss other resources available to students with declared majors, including counseling in course selection.

Should some students opt for delayed or immediate entry to a STEM major?

If you are committed to majoring in a STEM, be sure to inquire as to whether your colleges of choice recommend either delayed or immediate entry for particular groups of students. For instance, students with straight A’s in high school, as well as relevant extra-curricular experience, may wish to preemptively declare a competitive major on their applications, while students with B’s or C’s on their high school transcripts may want to wait for delayed entry to first strengthen their academic records.

Tough competition for admission to STEM field majors at many schools, it is significant high school students hoping to get into the field think all the factors before declaring a major. Do not take this choice lightly.

And be sure to ask several questions – including the questions we have highlighted – before making your last decision. Doing so will assist make sure you have the best chance of securing admission to your top college and program?

Enhance customer experience for universities – communication and convenience

According to the recent survey of Hepi-HEA, a mere 37 percent of British students believe their university and college experience represents excellent value for money. There is always a temptation to blame government austerity, teaching quality and declining course, or any of the other ‘usual suspects’. But in this case, it is worth resisting.

Academic standards and Government policy are obviously significant; 53 percent of students perceived their course to represent good value for money in 2012, but those surveyed were not subject to the tripled £9,000 a year fees. That we have seen a 16 percent decline four years on is certainly no coincidence.

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Over two-thirds of complaints related to educational issues, several of which deserve attention: 54 percent of students want feedbacks on coursework within one to two weeks, but less than a third really get it within this time period. Only 16 percent of students believe teaching staff show original, creative methods, and only 18 percent demonstrate they enhance their educational knowledge and skills on a daily basis. This is certainly caused for concern.

But for all the severities of government cuts – and for all the supposed educational deficiencies – students have other reasons to doubt their university experience offers good value for money. As 85 percent describe themselves as satisfied with their course, it is fair to say many of the reasons have nothing to do with the class – so what exactly are they?

Depending on who you ask, universities do not think of themselves as businesses, but it is increasingly clear to all that students think of themselves as customers.

Again, it is possible to blame this development on tuition fee increases, but it can be more correctly described as a by-product of tuition fees as a concept. Pre-September 1998 – when they were first introduced – it was much simpler to buy into lofty rhetoric about high-minded scholarly rigor, pursuits and active participation in a vibrant intellectual community, as all you had to pay were low-interest maintenance loans. Even if the support team was useless, the professors inattentive, and the amenities unsatisfactory, they, at least, came at little or no cost to students.

For almost 20 years now, attending university has been a transactional experience. If students are unhappy with their end of the bargain, it is because they expect a level of ‘customer service’ that corresponds with their level of potential risk and investment.

Tuition is only a part of this equation. The ‘university experience’ marketed to under graduates is, amongst other things, a difficult alchemy of academics, support, technology and social activities. Value for money is about including all of these things – and more.

However, there’s also a clear belief university administrations have a duty to communicate openly and simply with enrollees: 75 percent believe quality of communication on university campus is “important” or “very important”, while 73 percent think the same of access to information on university campus.

Concerns about processes and systems were another recurring theme: 50 percent of students maintain ease of payments for services such as field trips and tuition is very important, while 71 percent value access to enough administrative support.

Seven out of ten of those surveyed believe compliance with data security legislation imperative – perhaps unsurprisingly, in an age where information is both vulnerable and valuable. The report also suggested vanity metrics such as league table rankings – which 31 percent believe to be the most influential on their choice of college or university – were less important than factors such as impact on employability, which was favoured by 36 percent.

Again, none of this is meant to downplay the significance of solid tuition – just to illustrate that “value for money” is an idea or concept informed by several different variables. There are a number of reasons why students might feel like they are not getting what they paid for services and this will effect on universities’ ability to recruit in the long-term.

While they cannot do much about tuition fees – nor will they be mainly inclined to – if colleges or universities are to enhance the overall customer guarantee and experience the continued retention and recruitment of students, they must think about how they can reform their internal processes to enhance communication, convenience, and security.