The longer I attend college, the more expensive it seems to get. Textbooks, parking passes, printing and additional technological sources pile up to bills no one wants to pay. Those financial burdens alone are enough to discourage anyone regarding the college experience. The last thing students need is another reason to stress about their college experience. However, plenty of classes have decided to give one: an online textbook and assignment access.
My first day of class didn’t start off well. I was late, didn’t know where I was going and, to top it all off, I discovered I have to pay for my homework by using an online software. This was introduced to me by a software salesman at the front of my first class. As the salesman continued talking, however, I realized that this software costs money. The Cengage software costs $114 per semester. If you are someone who needs to have the actual book in your hands, like I am, the bundle of the software and the textbook is $160 at Jack Backers.
Several other SFA students must pay a substantial amount to be able to do our homework and do it effectively. Think of the students who struggle financially. Think of the message being sent to those who must buy the software. With this in mind, there are clear and obvious reasons that, not only is this unfair to the students, but it is unethical as well.
Early on, my professor said that to pass his class, everyone needed to purchase the software. However, the number of students who attend SFA who come from financially unstable backgrounds is a little bit less than 40%. Of this percentage, most take a science, math, Spanish or English class that may require this software. Students are already struggling with the pile-up of costs college provides. If a student is unable to purchase the software, the message the professor is displaying in their classroom is that if you don’t have enough money, you shouldn’t be able to complete the homework and be successful. Someone’s financial situation should have nothing to do with their performance in their own personal education. Intelligence and work ethic are the things that matter in class and grade performance. This brings the question: Is it ethical for students to be even passable based not on their merit but their individual income? The answer is clearly no. Performance alone determines pass or fail. Once a student has to pay to do their homework, there is a definite problem. Finances with tuition and textbooks, the expected bills, are already too expensive. Other unexpected expenses, like additional required software, are a nightmare for a student struggling to make ends meet.
I’ve heard people talk about the college experience my whole life. I knew it was expensive, but I also believed it was a place that rewards people based on their intelligence and work ethic. To actually come here and find out that’s not always the case is very disheartening. But there is good news. It can be fixed. By reverting to the ways of mainly using textbooks and assignments on paper, or even using free software that has broad availability, is an easy yet effective change. College is expensive already; let’s not make it worse. Let’s make our educational environment as accommodating as possible for each student from all backgrounds.