[School & College] LPT: Before college starts, email every one of your professors about your textbooks.

The reason for this is because you don’t book gamble, like what the previous post suggests. This also allows you to introduce yourself to your professors. Here’s an outline of an email you can send if you feel stuck:

[Professor’s Title] [Professor’s Last Name*],

Hi, my name is [your first name] [your last name], and I’m a [insert what year you are*] [College’s official name]. I’m going to be in your [insert course name**] class, and I have a few questions about the textbook for the semester.

I know that professors spend a lot of time preparing course materials and intend their textbooks to be required, but I want to make sure it is before buying it. Is it completely required for the course, or do you recommend it for easier learning? If it is required, could a previous edition suffice or do we have to have the current edition required?***

I’m looking forward to attending your course, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer.

-[your first name] [your last name]

*Be mindful if the professor’s name sounds foreign to you. In some cultures, the professor’s “last name” on the college course list could actually be something different all together. In that case, use whatever name seem appropriate.

**In some colleges, the same course is taught at different times by the same professor, and it’s indicated by a combination of letters and/or number. For example, my college has letter combinations: HA, HB, etc. In this case, having the course code (like ENG 111 HA) is better than saying the course name (Introduction to English).

***Sometimes, there is no certain edition of the required textbook because the textbook is literally just an ordinary book that is relevant to the subject. For many abstract courses, like English, Art, and Film Studies, the textbooks don’t get updates. Research through your favorite shopping websites to make sure that the textbook has editions at all before posing this question in the email.

Source: CollegeInfoGeek (Thomas Frank) https://collegeinfogeek.com/textbook-money-saving-guide/

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  • I’ve been out of college for more than 10 years and even back then in the stone age, the syllabus would tell you whether you needed the book 99.9% of the time.

    Please read the syllabus before contacting your professors for literally any reason! They (mostly) like to help you, but coming up with a thorough and informative syllabus is something they did so you can help yourself. 🙂

  • Just read the course material like the syllabus…and show up the first day of class and they will say this from their mouth. I had a few professors that decided to rant for 30 minutes because students flooded their inbox about the book. The syllabus will say if the book is required or recommended. People at the on campus bookstore have an idea if you’ll need a book too, if no syllabus has been posted.

    I think this is debatable advice.

  • Let me give you the other side of this: if we’ve put the required textbooks for a course online on the bookstore site, or blackboard or university info system (it is now the federal law that we do so – by law these decisions must be made and posted and available to students prior to start of registration, not just by the first day of class), and we’ve marked them as *required*, this kind of e-mail doesn’t make a student look like they are serious about the course, or take us seriously.

    source: I teach in college
    disclaimer: I teach courses over 600 students. if i didn’t get 75-100 of these kinds of queries where the answers were readily available, yet doubted or misinterpreted for whatever reason they are, i probably wouldn’t be so salty. YMMV.

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