My respect for professors has plummetted

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Brian
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My respect for professors has plummetted
7 months ago

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics.  Just basic classes.  beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more.  I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it.  But beginning physics and calculus......  give me a break..  We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

tkbslc
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180.   Luckily they had a rental option and her  books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though.  You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher.  You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire.   If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

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glasswave
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

You don't really say what you are so taken aback by. Are his profs both specifically specifying books that they have written? Are you asserting that a prof should not be able to specify his own book? Are you saying that by using older books that the cost would be cheaper? How much cheaper?

Actually, the way in which we teach beginning physics and calc has changed dramatically over the last hundred years. Perhaps the prof has decided that by using his own book that fits  his methods and feels that the class is better because of it. Usually this is why new beginning  textbooks are written, in that a prof finds a way of teaching an old topic that gives consistently better results. Then they write a book design to fit that new curriculum.

You can blame a lot of things for the soaring cost of education, but the idea that profs have jack up the prices thru' some mafia like scam of speccing their own books, should not really be one of them.

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PhotoPhart
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to tkbslc, 7 months ago

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

My son downloaded all his books and put them on his Nexus tablet. But next year even those ebooks will cost him a lot.

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tkbslc
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to PhotoPhart, 7 months ago

PhotoPhart wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

My son downloaded all his books and put them on his Nexus tablet. But next year even those ebooks will cost him a lot.

It only costs about $10 to print a book, $20 if it has a ton of color pictures.  The content is what you pay for so I don't expect going ebook is going to save much money for students.

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tkbslc
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to glasswave, 7 months ago

glasswave wrote:

You can blame a lot of things for the soaring cost of education, but the idea that profs have jack up the prices thru' some mafia like scam of speccing their own books, should not really be one of them.

There are some blatant cases of this, but they are rare.  Usually it is just the professor offering the latest in print edition of the books they've always used.

At my University EVERY prospective Business student had to take BUS 1010 which is kind of a philosophy class.  And the book for that class was a selection of classic, public domain writings (Thoreau, Whitman etc) compiled by the head professor of the business school.  He made a cool $40 off every person who even considered majoring in business.   And you couldn't even buy it used, because it wasn't a real book.   That rubbed me the wrong way, for sure.

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Brian
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to glasswave, 7 months ago

glasswave wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

You don't really say what you are so taken aback by. Are his profs both specifically specifying books that they have written? Are you asserting that a prof should not be able to specify his own book? Are you saying that by using older books that the cost would be cheaper? How much cheaper?

Actually, the way in which we teach beginning physics and calc has changed dramatically over the last hundred years. Perhaps the prof has decided that by using his own book that fits his methods and feels that the class is better because of it. Usually this is why new beginning textbooks are written, in that a prof finds a way of teaching an old topic that gives consistently better results. Then they write a book design to fit that new curriculum.

You can blame a lot of things for the soaring cost of education, but the idea that profs have jack up the prices thru' some mafia like scam of speccing their own books, should not really be one of them.

Maybe books have changed from a hundred years ago, but looking at my sons calc and physics books, they have changed little in the past 25 years.

The price certainly has though.  I paid around $50 for my physics and calc books.  my son is getting soaked for $200 for the calc and $220 for the physics book.  Tuition at the school since I went is up 80% but books are up 200+%.  You can't tell me it cost that much more to publish a book.  A book that basically hasn't changed in 50 years.

So yes, I blame it on the professors.  A basic physics book should be good for at least 5 years.  Maybe update the problems and examples from time to time.

you say because a newer book fits his methods.  I don't see it.  I thumbed through my daughters precalc book.  Didn't really see anything different in it than when I took it many moons ago.

It is a way for the professors to make additional income as if they don't already make pretty good loot as it is.

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Brian

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tkbslc
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

It is a way for the professors to make additional income as if they don't already make pretty good loot as it is.

Unless the professors name is on the book, they don't make a dime off textbooks.

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Brian
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to tkbslc, 7 months ago

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

It may be more the publishers.  But it is absolutely ridiculous that the average cost of text books has gone up over 80% in the past decade.  Especially when there is little if any new content.

It is stuff like this that drives students and some teachers to seek alternatives.

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Brian

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mamallama
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In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

-- hide signature --

Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

It may be more the publishers. But it is absolutely ridiculous that the average cost of text books has gone up over 80% in the past decade. Especially when there is little if any new content.

It is stuff like this that drives students and some teachers to seek alternatives.

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Brian

There's a lot of gouging going on in higher education to soak the students (and their parents who support them). That's why the cost of college has risen so much faster than the cost of living.

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PhotoPhart
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to tkbslc, 7 months ago

tkbslc wrote:

PhotoPhart wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

-- hide signature --

Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

My son downloaded all his books and put them on his Nexus tablet. But next year even those ebooks will cost him a lot.

It only costs about $10 to print a book, $20 if it has a ton of color pictures. The content is what you pay for so I don't expect going ebook is going to save much money for students.

True, but there is also shipping and handling, plus bookstore for books. Ebooks can be purely automated cloud purchases. But I know your right they won't be much cheaper. And they usually have to buy one or the other.

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Great Bustard
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Oh that's just great.
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

They can't even get single payer health insurance working and you want something like that for higher education? 

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Walking Dead
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Uh, Brian...
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

Maybe books have changed from a hundred years ago, but looking at my sons calc and physics books, they have changed little in the past 25 years.

The price certainly has though. I paid around $50 for my physics and calc books. my son is getting soaked for $200 for the calc and $220 for the physics book. Tuition at the school since I went is up 80% but books are up 200+%. You can't tell me it cost that much more to publish a book. A book that basically hasn't changed in 50 years.

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Brian

Brian, if the books were $50 each, 25 years ago, and now they are $200 and $220 each now, they have been going up an average of about 6% a year (compounded). This is pretty much in line with what inflation has been overall in the US. Some years it was higher, and in lower in others.

In other words, the books have basically stayed the same in price when you factor in inflation.

You're just getting old, and looking at what things cost in your 'days'. Maybe your son or you should take a class in business finance/management.

In my case, when I was attending college, the tuition and room and board was about $4000 a year. Today, some 40 years later, it is $42,000 a year. It seems like a lot, but when you break it down, it comes out to about 6% compounded a year.

Another way to look at it is to remember the story of how the Dutch settlers bought Manhattan Island for $24, worth of beads and trinkets in 1626, some 387 years ago. If the American natives had put the $24 into an account paying 6% interested a year, and it was allowed to grow for 387 years, that $24 would be worth $149,135,522,178.17, today. That's not too shabby.

The magic of compound interest.

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Great Bustard
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In reply to Walking Dead, 7 months ago

Walking Dead wrote:

Brian wrote:

Maybe books have changed from a hundred years ago, but looking at my sons calc and physics books, they have changed little in the past 25 years.

The price certainly has though. I paid around $50 for my physics and calc books. my son is getting soaked for $200 for the calc and $220 for the physics book. Tuition at the school since I went is up 80% but books are up 200+%. You can't tell me it cost that much more to publish a book. A book that basically hasn't changed in 50 years.

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Brian

Brian, if the books were $50 each, 25 years ago, and now they are $200 and $220 each now, they have been going up an average of about 6% a year (compounded). This is pretty much in line with what inflation has been overall in the US. Some years it was higher, and in lower in others.

In other words, the books have basically stayed the same in price when you factor in inflation.

You're just getting old, and looking at what things cost in your 'days'. Maybe your son or you should take a class in business finance/management.

In my case, when I was attending college, the tuition and room and board was about $4000 a year. Today, some 40 years later, it is $42,000 a year. It seems like a lot, but when you break it down, it comes out to about 6% compounded a year.

Another way to look at it is to remember the story of how the Dutch settlers bought Manhattan Island for $24, worth of beads and trinkets in 1626, some 387 years ago. If the American natives had put the $24 into an account paying 6% interested a year, and it was allowed to grow for 387 years, that $24 would be worth $149,135,522,178.17, today. That's not too shabby.

The magic of compound interest.

...that's double the actual inflation rate over that time period:

http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp

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Brian
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Re: Except...
In reply to Great Bustard, 7 months ago

Walking Dead wrote:

Brian wrote:

Maybe books have changed from a hundred years ago, but looking at my sons calc and physics books, they have changed little in the past 25 years.

The price certainly has though. I paid around $50 for my physics and calc books. my son is getting soaked for $200 for the calc and $220 for the physics book. Tuition at the school since I went is up 80% but books are up 200+%. You can't tell me it cost that much more to publish a book. A book that basically hasn't changed in 50 years.

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Brian

Brian, if the books were $50 each, 25 years ago, and now they are $200 and $220 each now, they have been going up an average of about 6% a year (compounded). This is pretty much in line with what inflation has been overall in the US. Some years it was higher, and in lower in others.

In other words, the books have basically stayed the same in price when you factor in inflation.

You're just getting old, and looking at what things cost in your 'days'. Maybe your son or you should take a class in business finance/management.

In my case, when I was attending college, the tuition and room and board was about $4000 a year. Today, some 40 years later, it is $42,000 a year. It seems like a lot, but when you break it down, it comes out to about 6% compounded a year.

Another way to look at it is to remember the story of how the Dutch settlers bought Manhattan Island for $24, worth of beads and trinkets in 1626, some 387 years ago. If the American natives had put the $24 into an account paying 6% interested a year, and it was allowed to grow for 387 years, that $24 would be worth $149,135,522,178.17, today. That's not too shabby.

The magic of compound interest.

...that's double the actual inflation rate over that time period:

http://inflationdata.com/Inflation/Inflation_Rate/Long_Term_Inflation.asp

Exactly. One, it is double the rate and two printing has got to be more efficient today so one would expect the cost increase to be slightly less than inflation.
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Brian
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Re: Oh that's just great.
In reply to Great Bustard, 7 months ago

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

They can't even get single payer health insurance working and you want something like that for higher education? 

If you think professors care about health insurance, you know nothing about the US. They typically have the best insurance coverage around. They don't have a clue about the real world.
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Henry Schobin
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to tkbslc, 7 months ago

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

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Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

The solution is simple, never take the basic books out of print. Put new cover graphics on them every few years. The books should then be readily available and cheap. Going electronic should be even cheaper.

But that's not what they want. What they want is more money.

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Henry Schobin
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Re: My respect for professors has plummetted
In reply to tkbslc, 7 months ago

tkbslc wrote:

PhotoPhart wrote:

tkbslc wrote:

Brian wrote:

My son just started college, going into Mechanical Engineering.

First semester has calculus and physics. Just basic classes. beginning physics and calculus hasn't changed for 100 years or more. I could pull out my text books from 25 years ago and they would be perfectly adequate.

Don't get me wrong, if a professor writes a book that adds something to the field of study or shows new insight, then I can see the professor requiring a new book and making some money on it. But beginning physics and calculus...... give me a break.. We are talking higher education mafia.

How much do you think beginning physics books and calculus books are running these days?

-- hide signature --

Brian

My daughter's basic Chemistry 1050 book was $180. Luckily they had a rental option and her books for other classes were quite cheap.

I think the problem is the publishers, really, though. You can't really keep using an out of print book as a teacher. You want your students to be able to find the book easily and new if they desire. If the professor kept assigning a book that has been out of print for 10 years, eventually the supply of used books will dry up.

My son downloaded all his books and put them on his Nexus tablet. But next year even those ebooks will cost him a lot.

It only costs about $10 to print a book, $20 if it has a ton of color pictures. The content is what you pay for so I don't expect going ebook is going to save much money for students.

But content for books like BASIC physics and calculus should have gotten cheaper over the last 100 years because the content hasn't changed.

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jkoch2
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Textbook costs
In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

$180 is not much to pay, if the studen really does acquire proficiency in Calculus or physics.  But books are only a tiny part of the costs of higher education these days, and very few people complete college with any competency in anything whatever, other than perhaps a notion that education conveys an entitlement or serves as a door-opener--which it does not.

Publishers frequently change the study questions, and quiz designs, making it difficult to continue using the same materials.  There is also an industry of cheaters who sell answers to last year's tests, making it undesirable to use the same test materials over and over.  If an instructor wants to win appointment to a tenured position, he doesn't waste a lot of time designing, revising, or scoring tests, or fretting over the affordability of education.  All the money and incentives steer the successful academic in the direction of publishing, consulting, fund-raising, and hob-nobbing with high administrators.

There is no real price competition in higher education.  The costs of public schools, with the better part of their expenses supported by the taxpayers, are disguised in the mysteries of public budgets and future pension and health benefits.  The costs of private schools are disguised by government loans and by the illusion that degrees will win jobs that compensate the costs, rather than simply raise the ante for jobs that don't require college to learn.

The "bubble" comes to an end when rising costs eclipse the availabillity of jobs, and student loans become unpayable.  Of course, some will argue that the loans be foregiven, which will simply be an incentive for a new round of plunder.

A smart parent would save money and trouble by encouraging an 18 year-old to attend a community college for two years, or simply enroll in an online program, and then transfer in the junior year, once the performance and goals are better known.

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tkbslc
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In reply to Brian, 7 months ago

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/required-reading-textbook-prices-soar-students-try-cope-8C11140099

"Already grappling with skyrocketing tuition and fees, college students also must contend with triple-digit inflation on the price of textbooks. With the average student shelling out $1,200 a year just on books, students, professors and policy groups are searching for ways to circumvent the high cost of traditional textbooks."

$1200 a year?!?

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