Clarksville, TN – Here’s a fun question to ask your college professor friends: “How would you feel if all your students showed up on the first day of class with their books?” Paul Nicodemus, Austin Peay State University (APSU) professor of psychological science and counseling, has an answer.
“I wouldn’t have to worry anymore,” he said. “I never have developed ulcers, but I’m surprised by that because I always have students that don’t have the right textbook.”
During his career, Nicodemus has observed several reasons why students either don’t have a book or why they bought the wrong book. Campus bookstores sometimes run out of required texts, and when students order a book online, they might accidentally pick the wrong edition.
And then there’s the cost. It’s long been known that life offers three absolutes – death, taxes and expensive college textbooks.
This summer, Austin Peay State University is piloting a program that will hopefully resolve the age-old textbook dilemma. Students and professors in 10 summer courses are participating in the University’s First Day eBooks program, which automatically uploads low-cost eBooks to a class’ online shell when a student registers for that class. The eBook is added to the student’s tuition, and they have access to the correct text on the first day of class.
“It’s simple reality for many students that they cannot afford their textbooks, and as a consequence these students must choose between buying the necessities of life or purchasing a very expensive textbook that often can be in excess of $200.00,” Dr. Chad Brooks, APSU associate provost for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said.
“In fact, data collected by Austin Peay State University’s bookstore reveals about 50 percent of all students never buy the required textbooks for their courses,” stated Brooks.
The First Day eBooks program ensures that students will have the right text for their class, allowing them to fully participate and succeed in their course work. Students do have the option to opt out of First Day eBooks, but Brooks said those participating in this summer’s pilot program will collectively save more than $23,000. Next year, he hopes to make that number grow by expanding the program to the entire campus.
The University developed the pilot program earlier this year, after Dr. Rex Gandy, APSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, became concerned about the exorbitant costs of some college text books. Gandy created a textbook affordability taskforce, which met with both faculty and nationally recognized book vendors. The result of that committee’s work led to this summer’s First Day eBooks program.
“I really like that they got this finally set up,” Nicodemus said. “This is a game-changer. I think you’re going to see more of this.”