How to Ask Your Professor to Choose a Lower-Cost Textbook

Students who are extremely concerned about how much college is going to cost probably are hoping to save some cash on textbooks. But unfortunately there is only so much you can do if you're assigned certain books that are expensive no matter where you try to buy them. However, before thinking that all hope is lost, you might want to try talking to your professor.

By Jessica Lyons


Professors don't have to be seen as individuals you can't have a conversation with and who won't want to consider anything new. In reality, your professors are probably down to earth people who are more than happy to talk to you about any concerns you might have, including if it's about textbook costs. If you're ready to talk to your professor about selecting cheaper textbooks for class, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Be Careful of Timing

When your professor is rushing from one class to the next, it's probably not a good time to try to talk to him or her about textbook costs. It'd be better to make an appointment with him or her to talk during scheduled office hours. A professor will be more likely to hear what you have to say during a calm chat instead of while trying to squeeze it in when he or she is in a hurry.

Use a Respectful Approach

You're certainly not going to get your way if you talk in a disrespectful manner to your professor and come off as overly critical of the original textbook choice. Be sure to be very respectful of the professor, acknowledging that while the book he or she selected is good, there might be some other options to consider. You don't want to get on your professor's bad side over a textbook selection.

Do Your Research

Going to talk to your professor and merely saying his or her textbook selection is too expensive isn't a really compelling argument for changing it. However, if you can show him or her alternative books that would cover the same materials but for less money, it will help make your case. Your professor might be willing to look at your research and further examine the different options you're presenting.

Compile a List of Other Reasons

In addition to the cost, there may be other factors to take into consideration when it comes to choosing a different book. This could include if a particular book is easier to find or if students will be able to use it for more than one course. Write all of these additional reasons down and present them to your professor since they could also help influence your professor's final decision.

Get the Support of Fellow Students

There's definitely strength in numbers, so talk to your classmates and get their support for trying to get a lower-cost textbook. Seeing that the entire class supports a more inexpensive alternative could be a pretty big eye opener for your professor. Although a petition might be unnecessary, you will at least be able to tell your professor that you've spoken with other students to see that they feel the same way.

Talk to Other Professors

It could be worthwhile to see what professors who teach the same course are using in their classes. Talk to them about the books they are using and see if they have any feedback about the alternatives that you'd like to suggest to your own professor. Having the opinions of your professor's respected colleagues could add weight to your request.

Offer to Help

As you talk to your professor, he or she may start to express interest in what you're saying, but still have reservations about using a different book. Offer to lend a helping hand by doing more research about alternatives or research related to specific questions your professor might have.

Could your professors help save you from credit card debt by keeping textbook prices lower?

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