How To Talk To Your Professor About Using An Older Version Of A Textbook
College students are always feeling the pressure to save money in any way that they can. With rising textbook costs, it can feel frustrating to have to spend hundreds of dollars every semester on books. Sometimes you barely even use those books! Most professors default to using the newest edition of a textbook because it is the most up-to-date, however, it is also probably the most expensive option.
One way that students can often save some money is by using an older version of a textbook instead of the most recent, however, there are certain things that need to be done before making this switch. Students should be candid with their professors about this and approach them to see if this would work within the class. Because class requirements vary widely, it may or may not be a valid option. Keep reading to find out how to talk to your professor about using an older version of a textbook.
1. Ask early
The key to getting a good reaction from your professor is to ask early. You should approach them as early as possible in case you need to change your plans. You absolutely do not want to approach a professor about an older version right before the first assignment is due or worse, after. This gives off the impression that you are not prepared for their class and aren’t taking it seriously. They are less likely to give you a good response if they have a bad impression of you.
If possible, find out what version of the book they are suggesting for the class before the class begins. You can send them an email about it so that you are prepared when the semester starts. You may also choose to wait until the first class to approach them about it. Some professors will address the different versions of the textbook while going over the syllabus on the first day. If they do not, you could approach them at the end of the class about it.
2. Inquire about how much the book will be used
While a book may be on the required list, the amount that it is actually used can vary widely. Some classes use the book in every class while others may only visit it once or twice a semester. If you talk to the professor about how much the book will be used, you may be able to determine if it is okay to use an older book. Generally, an older book may be a good option if the book is used scarcely. You may also want to let the professor know that you can get in touch with other students in the class if your book is missing a section. However, if your book is going to be used frequently, you may want to invest in the newest version. Often, what changes are page numbers and content. If the professor is assigning things based off of these page numbers and sections, it may be very difficult for you to complete your assignments correctly.
3. Be professional and understanding
It is very important that you approach your professor with an understanding and professional attitude. If you do this, you can expect that they will respond similarly. Many professors are very understanding about how much textbook costs and trying to keep budgets low. On the other hand, professors spend a lot of time crafting their courses and choosing the right books. If you show disrespect for their course design and choices, this could potentially rub them the wrong way. Additionally, your professor may be less receptive if it is a very large class. They may be preoccupied with other matters that they might prioritize over your textbook situation. If there is a TA in the class, it may be better to approach them and ask for any advice on the textbooks.
4. Ask about other options
If it turns out that using the newer version is the best option, you may want to ask about other options than just buying the book outright. Your professor may have ideas about where to find good second-hand copies or places to rent. Additionally, there may be an e-book that would work equally well. Professors that teach this class regularly may be able to put you in touch with past students that are looking to sell their copies.
College students are known for being crafty when it comes to saving money. Saving on textbooks is an especially important thing to do when trying to keep costs down. With the right approach, you may be able to save a significant portion of money by using an older version, especially if it is second-hand.