Whenever a new semester starts, students buy textbooks for their classes. According to No Cut News, university students spend about 300,000 to 400,000 won to buy assigned textbooks every semester. For medical or art majors who have to use expensive original edition of textbooks in English, the cost increases even more. However, in some cases these textbooks remain untouched. In fact, many students resell their under-utilized textbooks or leave them without promises of re-using them.
Suh Ah-hyun (International Studies, 2) bought three books last semester for one of her major courses. Her professor insisted that students purchase all of them, as clearly stated in the syllabus. However, Suh said, “We only used one book during the entire semester. The remaining two books are brand new as before.” In many English IV courses, students are asked to buy a book called Speech Communication, however, “Everyone bought the book but only read a couple of chapters and never went over the textbook during class,” said Choi Yoo-kyong (‘03, International Office Management).
Moreover, there are some books on the syllabus that are not even intended to be used during class. According to a student who wishes to remain anonymous, she purchased two books in advance for her class. However, she was disappointed to hear that the professor listed the books because the school’s system would not let her upload her syllabus if she omits it. Unfortunately, the student could not return the book and said, “I use the book as a reference, but I would not have bought it if it was not going to be covered in class.” Park Bo-mee (International Studies, 2) found reading packets useful and cost effective. “The professor made a package for us, extracting necessary theories and formulae and re-editing it from many expensive books. Because of my professor’s effort, many students saved money,” said Park. She thinks it is a good way to save money to use the professor’s materials.
Professor Lee Seok-won (International Studies) makes a reading packet for his students. “I would recommend the students to buy books if we are going to use more than half of it. But, currently, I use two to three chapters from two books. So considering the expenses of the students, I provide a reading packet.”
As students progress through university life, Hah Joon-young (
Is the problem of not using textbooks fully associated with some changes in the teaching pattern? Some students say that because there are certain courses that rely more on individually prepared PowerPoint slides the textbooks are rarely used. “I think since many professors use PowerPoint slides, they use less textbooks compared to the past,” said Yi Jung-mi (Law, 2). “Some courses in Journalism deal more with current issues and we discuss more than things in books. Books are references and should be done in personal readings. So just because textbooks are less used during class, it does not mean that it is not of use at all,” said Jung Ji-ae (Business Administration, 3).
“Going over the textbooks during the class might not mean everything, but I would only like to purchase textbooks that are really going to be used much in class. And I hope professors can clearly tell us how much they will utilize the textbooks,” said Suh.