Cautions For Using Professor Review Sites

When I go to create my class schedule for the coming semester, I tend to look for a few things. The required classes for my major and minor, the time of the class, and the professor that is teaching the class are the top three factor I take into account when choosing my classes. The one thing I have found the most problem determining is which professor I should take the class with. Enter professor rating sites.

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Sites such as ratemyprofessors.com are a staple to students choosing classes in today’s college environment. However, are these sites really accurate?

Extreme Posts: These posts on this site are very much in the fashion of sites like yelp and other review sites. Many of the posts I have found on my professors have been subjective and seem to be mainly written from the extreme ends of student opinions. This lends itself to extreme reviews either highly praising or critiquing the teacher.

Outdated Reviews: While using these sites, the date that the review was created is also important to take into account when deciding the validity of the review. The professor’s curriculum can change very frequently in the college world as well as professors changing their teaching styles to try and reach their students in a more effective way. This means that a review created in 2008 will likely not be as reliable as one created in 2018.

Relying solely based on reviews of professor rating sites is not recommended, as this information can be a hit or miss in accuracy. Here are some suggested actions in addition to using review sites:

Email the Professor: It’s possible to email the professor and as them questions personally or even get a copy of the syllabus if they have taught the class before. Although these sources are convenient, it does not always provide the best information on the professor.

Ask Others: Check around with students you know to see if they have taken the professor you are checking. Because it is a student you know, you can better understand and trust their advice.

What are the benefits of getting used textbooks?

Used textbooks are a great choice for students looking to save money on their path to graduation and finding a great job! Here are a few reasons why used textbooks are so great:cash-coins-money-259165

Cheaper option: Used books are almost always cheaper than new books! Aside from regular wear and tear from being used by other students, there are no content differences between a new book and a used book.

More books in the market: There are way more used books in the textbook market than new books, which makes finding a great deal on the book you need easier, faster, and cheaper.

Can help save time with studying: A pre-highlighted word here and a pre-underlined word there might just make the important information stand out easier!

Won’t affect your buyback price: If you plan on selling your book at the end of the semester, you might as well purchase a used book. Normally, bookstores will buy books at the same price, even if you bought it new. The only time the price may change is if there’s minor damage on the book and the bookstore isn’t willing to pay the full price.

Lower Negative Environmental Impact: Everyone loves the smell of new books; the paper, the ink – and maybe even the glue…but it’s no doubt that mass production of books and paper products require a lot of lost trees. When you purchase a used book, it’s just like reducing, reusing, and recycling!

3 Reasons Why College Textbooks Are So Expensive

We all know college textbooks are expensive, but why is that the case? Here are a few reasons for the growing textbook costs we see today:

Publishers only make money when new books are sold

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Publishers create the textbooks and make money based on how many new books are produced and sold. Because of this, they want to see more new books bought and fewer used books bought.

“Since the publishers don’t make any money off used-book sales, their business model is to make the old editions obsolete and force you to buy a new book.” (NY Post)

There are a few different tactics we have seen publishers use to try to sell more new books:

Marketing new editions of textbooks to professors. Marketing reps are trained to hook your professor into selecting a new edition of a textbook without really mentioning the price of the book. These new editions often contain only minor content changes. As soon as the new edition is selected by the professor, the old edition often is useless for their class.

Creating custom editions. Publishers will create university specific book editions (custom editions) with no named authors, which makes it hard for students to find cheaper alternatives. These editions also frequently are minor revisions, with some being a simple of a difference as a different title page in the book. It is basically impossible to tell the difference between a custom edition of a book and the edition of the book that it is based on without purchasing copies of both and comparing them.

Packaging books with access cards. Due to increased use of online homework programs that require access cards, there have been increased amounts of textbooks being bundled with the access card. This makes getting all the materials you need for your class very easy, but it often comes at a high price. These access cards can often be purchased individually from the publisher for a lower price than the package, but it is difficult to identify exactly what access card you need for your class. Because of the difficulty of this process, many students will choose to just buy the package and spend more than they should.

Textbooks are chosen by people who aren’t paying for them

The process of choosing what textbook is used for a class is part of what drives textbook prices up. Textbooks are typically chosen for a class by the professor who is teaching the class. These professors are visited by publishers who try to convince the professor to use their book. The professor evaluates their different options and selects a book that is best suited for their class.

So what is the problem with this? The textbook is selected by someone who won’t have to pay for it. When evaluating which textbook to choose, many professors do not consider the price of the book and what impact it will have on their students. Because they will not be paying for the book, there is little incentive for professors to include price in their ultimate textbook decision.

Lack of Competition

There’s just not that many publishers! The textbook market is dominated by five major players, and none of them are willing to make room for small publishers with better prices. These major publishing companies are able to hike up new textbook prices without fear of market competitors.

“According to the National Association of College Stores, more than 77 cents of every dollar spent on textbooks go to publishers. Of those 77 cents, the publishing company makes about 18 cents in pure profit, while spending 15 cents on marketing, and roughly 32 percent to cover costs (paper, printing, employee salaries, etc). At the same time, the author – the person who dedicated hundreds of hours of research to write the book – only gets about 12 cents on the dollar on average.” (Business Insider)


Which is better: renting my college textbooks or buying them?

While searching for your textbooks, you may be wondering whether you should rent or buy your textbooks. The short answer is it depends on the book! Here are a few tips to help decided if you want to rent or buy your textbook:

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  • Expect to save 50%-90% off the new price of a book.
  • Allows you to pay less money today than buying books.
  • Great for textbooks you’re not sure you’ll want to keep, especially classes outside your major or introductory classes.
  • Reduces stress and risk of selling your book at the end of the semester.

Buying:

  • Great for novels and books that you’ll want to keep, especially books in your field of focus.
  • Able to try to sell the book for cash at the end of the semester.
  • No risk of being charged a fee if the book gets lost or damaged.

Ultimately, the better option depends on your situation. If you are having trouble making a decision on whether to rent or buy, just ask us! We will be more than happy to help you make a good decision that fits your needs!

Check out an earlier blog post to see Four Tips For Getting Cheap Textbooks.

8 Scholarships To Save You Money

College is expensive, but there are millions of dollars of scholarship money that gets left unclaimed every year! We thought you may want additional information about some scholarships you can apply to right now to save you money.

Opportunity Scholarship

  • Opportunity Scholarship is for students that want to enroll into colleges but are either not given the funds by the government or are in a “locked out state” ‘which is when the university wants to charge an out of state fee.
  • Provided by: The DREAM.US
  • Eligibility: Current student at an accredited two-year program or an accredited U.S. community college. Have an average GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Have not been enrolled in a four -year institution, but intend to enroll in the future to a bachelor program. Have DACA or TPS. Came to the U.S. before your sixteenth birthday.
  • Application Deadline: November 1, 2018
  • Apply Now: http://www.thedream.us/scholarships/national-scholarship/

AXA Achievement Scholarship

  • The AXA Foundation thrives in helping people and students who have volunteered in their communities to succeed in getting higher education. They do this by offering a scholarship of $2,500, $10,000 or $25,000. The foundation will also donate $1,000 to the scholar’s school.
  • Provided by: AXA Foundation
  • Eligibility: United States citizens or claim residency in 50 united states including Washington, D.C. or Puerto Rico and legal residents. The scholar must also demonstrate achievements that emphasize the way that they empowered a low-income or at risk environment.
  • Application Deadline: Will be announced in September 2018
  • Apply Now: https://us.axa.com/axa-foundation/AXA-achievement-scholarship.html

Undergraduate Scholarship Program

  • The Undergraduate Scholarship Program, funded by the Central Intelligence Agency, is a very competitive program where students will learn skills that are relevant to their degree. The scholar will work full-time with the CIA during the summer, and the scholarship will be awarded per calendar year for tuition that will assist up to $18,000. Not only will the recipient receive pay for their work and the scholarship but other benefits such as health insurance, allowance for daily meals, federal retirement plans will be provided.
  • Provided by: Central Intelligence Agency
  • Eligibility: GPA of 3.0 or higher, 1000 SAT score or higher, 21 ACT score. Acceptance to a four or five -year college and be a enrolled full-time. Availability to work at least two 90-day summers for the CIA.
  • Application Deadline: July 31, 2018
  • Apply Now: https://www.cia.gov/careers/student-opportunities/undergraduate-scholarship-program.html

HACU Scholarship Program

  • HACU represents more than 470 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. Although their member institutions in the U.S. represent only 13% of all higher education institutions nationwide, together they are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU is the only national educational association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
  • Provided by: HACU
  • Eligibility:
    • Demonstrate financial need if required by scholarship sponsor (typically determined by FAFSA).
    • Meet specific criteria for the scholarships to which they are applying.
    • Students must currently attend a HACU-member college or university in the U.S. or Puerto Rico at the time applications are completed and scholarship awards are made. For students transferring schools, the school must also be a HACU member to be eligible to apply.
    • Scholarships are ONLY for enrolled college students. All students must have completed their first semester of freshman year at the time of applying.
  • Application Deadline: TBD
  • Apply now:

Golden Door Scholars Program

  • Golden Door Scholars provides scholarships for DACA students and scholarships for undocumented students. There is no federal law that prohibits the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges, public or private. However, there are certain obstacles that stand in the way of these students’ path to higher education. This program covers whatever it is the students cannot pay of their tuition.
  • Provided by: Numerous supporters such as Wells Fargo, Red Ventures, etc.
  • Eligibility:
    • DACA qualified
    • Lives in a state that doesn’t allow in-state tuition for DACA students
    • High GPA
    • Taking advanced or challenging high school classes
    • Driven to excel and help others succeed too
    • Has held leadership positions or is involved in the community
    • Has applied for a variety of scholarships
    • Recent high school graduates, currently enrolled undergrad, and transfer students are also welcome to apply.
  • Application Deadline: TBD
  • Apply now:

Live Más Scholarship

  • In 2015, Taco Bell Foundation launched the Live Más Scholarship, a program aimed at empowering the nation’s next generation of dreamers, innovators and creators – those whose passions don’t fall into the conventional “academic” or athletic” qualifying categories of traditional scholarship programs.
  • How to enter: Submit a video (2 minutes of less) that tells the story of your life’s passion.
  • Provided by: Taco Bell
  • Eligibility:
    • You must be a legal resident of the United States, between 16 years of age and 24 years of age, located in the United States or D.C. and on track to apply for or currently enrolled in an accredited post-high school/post-secondary educational program (including accredited two-and four-year colleges, universities, vocational-technical and trade schools).
    • You’ll have to identify the specific secondary education program, college or certificate/degree option you want to get into, or for which you will need funds.
    • If you are a minor, you’ll need written consent from a parent or legal guardian to participate.
  • Application Deadline: Opens January, closes in March
  • Apply now: Application opens in January

Scholarship America Dream Award

  • Too often, student scholarship support dries up after freshman year. Scholarship America Dream Award is a renewable scholarship fund for students in their sophomore year and beyond — with growing, renewable awards that help ensure talented students can afford to complete the degree programs they’ve started. Scholarship America provides Dream Awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 based on the individual student’s financial need. Each student’s award will increase by $1,000 each year to help them successfully finish school and earn their degrees.
  • Provided by: Scholarship America
  • Eligibility:
    • Be at least 17 years of age. Be U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents (holders of a Permanent Resident card), or individuals granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
    • Have received a high school diploma or the equivalent from a U.S. school by September 2018.
    • Have completed or expect to successfully complete a minimum of one full year of postsecondary education by June 2019.
    • Plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate study at the sophomore year level or higher at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school in the United States for the entire 2019-20 academic year.
    • Be studying to obtain an associate’s or first bachelor’s degree.
    • Have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or its equivalent).
    • Demonstrate financial need.
  • Application Deadline: TBD
  • Apply now: Applications open in August

Future is Female Scholarship

  • True&Co believes in supporting women as they pursue the educational course of their choice — whether it’s in coding, design, marketing, research, film, or beyond. They seek to help passionate, motivated women become the future trailblazers of tomorrow. They require 4 short  essays (minimum of 200 words) to win a $3000 scholarship for the educational course of your choice. The winner will receive $3000 dollars towards the course of her choice, $300 of True&Co. Products, and a full feature and interview on the True&Co. Journal.
  • Provided by: True&Co
  • Eligibility:
    • Be enrolling in/enrolled in/have graduated college with a 3.0 GPA or above.
    • Winner will be required to submit transcripts and enrollment or offer letter.
    • Be an American Citizen/Resident.
  • Application Deadline: June 29th 2018.
  • Apply now:

You can find a scholarship for practically anything! No effort is wasted effort. To be able to score a scholarship, make sure that you are applying to as many as possible.  Good luck!

To find more scholarships, you can use the following websites: