My grad program is rather course heavy. I’ve had to take a number of statistic and science courses in the past year or so. However, paying for textbooks can get pretty expensive. Every professor seems to require at least 1 $100 book and my university has a policy to insist on the latest edition, which often translates to no used books. I’ve developed a few work-arounds for dealing with text books.

Before the class starts, I often email a professor, explain I’m a graduate student,  and ask if the textbook is required or recommended. A surprising amount of time, they’ll say it’s just recommended, and that between lectures,handouts and a little research on my own, I should be fine. In other classes, I’ve found the content between editions doesn’t change very much, so I can get away with buying an older edition online for a tenth of the price.

However, sometimes the current (or only) edition is just plain necessary. If it’s just for readings, typically a copy is available on reserve in the library. I make a weekly date with myself to go read it for an hour or two. The only time I have competition to read the book is around finals, so that just makes me stay ahead in my readings. Typically in my stats classes, the homework comes from the text and they always seem to change the homework questions between editions. In those situations, I email friends who have already taken the class and ask to borrow their book for the term. Or, if the new edition has come out, my study group and I take turns buying the book, and sharing it. It’s a great way to guarantee that the study group will revolve around your schedule, by being the one in possession of the homework problems.

And sometimes, you just have to suck it up and buy the overpriced book that one day you will want to stab. For my current stats class, I took my turn to buy the current edition of the book. I actually like this one (weird, I know) and it’s required for another course I have to take, so I figured I might as well buy it. I’m sharing it with a few of my classmates, who borrow it to copy down problems and it gets passed around a lot at homework sessions. Plus, I hope it will be a good reference for the future. Fortunately, a lab mate already took my other class and is loaning me his copy of the textbook. Unfortunately, I really like this one too, and may have to buy it some month for my own reference.

You know you’re a nerd when you enjoy math and science texts.


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