Textbook Trouble: Tree of Life Changes

bookstore hours
photo by: Kayla Morton

Written by Johnathon Goodenow. Media by Kayla Morton.

President Filby recently sent out an email to students announcing a $924 tuition increase due to issues involving the MAP grant. The Tree of Life book rental service Greenville College uses is also increasing its prices by 38%. Because of the inflation, GC is allowing students to opt out of the rental program and obtain books on their own. This additional change will surely cause more financial difficulties for students.

Tree of Life textbook rentals
screenshot by: Kayla Morton

Tree of Life is a service that has been extremely helpful to students over the years. Because the books are rented, professors could order what they needed for their class at a reduced cost and the books would be delivered to students’ doors or could be picked up at the bookstore. Unless the wrong textbooks were sent out or came in late, there was little hassle with the system.

photo by: Kayla Morton

Prof. Brittingham commented on how the changes affected faculty: “As a faculty member, I was able to choose whatever books I wanted, and almost as many books as I wanted for a class. I also knew that students would get the books and that the students would be receiving high-quality materials. Given this change, I now have to take other things into consideration. Cost becomes a much larger issue that I have to deal with.”

Brittingham mentioned that professors have the option to choose books that might not be the best for teaching the material. “Ultimately, it’s a challenge that asks faculty to consider their students’ needs above our own personal teaching preferences; which we should be doing anyways. Greenville College faculty does consider students above our own pedagogical preferences.”

Jacob Burrell commented on the change: “It’s not the college’s fault that the system is changing. Really, they’re looking out for us by allowing us to opt out.” He mentioned that he would probably continue to use Tree of Life and absorb the cost rather than find the texts that professors assigned on his own.

campus bookstore
photo by: Kayla Morton

While searching for texts elsewhere might be more of a hassle than using Tree of Life, students should consider that option since books can get quite expensive. Forbes has a great article for college students that talks about purchasing textbooks for less. Finding the best deal  might mean using a multitude of different resources. For example, purchasing and reselling, renting and sharing with a friend are all viable alternatives.

Different classes have vastly different prices for texts, which means that finding textbooks at a cheaper price will vary for each student. Professor Brittingham mentioned, “Because I work in humanities, it will probably be cheaper for my students to get the books I want for them than it is for someone in the sciences for whom books are much more expensive. Especially because they’re larger textbooks and there are lots of other costs involved with those sort of materials. Whereas if you are reading Plato, you can read Plato for free. You can pull it up on your phone. You don’t need to order that book.”

Brittingham raised valid points. There may be books available for free online by using sites such as Project Gutenberg. The downside is being limited to reading off of laptops, tablets or smartphones.

It is unfortunate that Tree of Life’s cost has increased since most students at GC do not have experience searching for books on their own. However, to save money students will want to learn how to find the best deals. 


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