I just spent 100 dollar buying an access code, a string of seemingly arbitrary letters that gives me the privilege and ability to do my homework. Which seems odd. Normally people say, “you couldn’t pay me enough to do that homework assignment,” but now we are saying, “I barely had enough money to do that homework assignment.” Something seems backwards about this whole situation, especially because in most classes the online homework is merely the questions in the back of the textbook I already had to buy for the class. Why am I buying this twice?
I know this is college, and aside from getting your education, college is about paying extra fees and not getting anything for free. And anytime I use equipment at Texas A&M I am graciously reminded of this by the stickers they place on almost all lab equipment. I understand having to buy your own textbooks because 1 – I want to have my own copy for those subjects I will be referencing the rest of my life, and 2 – I can find a better deal than what the University Bookstore offers me. Sure I bought the edition that is strictly used for distribution in India, but it is mostly in English, and has the same content as the American version, and it only cost 10 dollars instead of 300.
But online homework access codes aren’t the same as textbooks. Even though they are valid for 18 months despite the fact that the class is 5 months, I can’t re-sell the code, nor buy a used code that has a year before expiring.
My student fees are already more than the tuition I pay, so why not add a few extra bucks to it and, “give” me the homework access as part of the course. It’s already a required portion of the course. And the publishers are currently trying to sell the books and homework codes to the university and its professors. So why not bundle it with student fees and try to get a bulk purchase discount.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not one to promote an excess of student fee’s. I already dislike the fact that I pay 72.06 for a student health center that I am too scared to use because of its poor care reputation, or the 30 dollars in prints I pay for out of my general fee’s that I end up using on the last day of the semester printing out 300 pages as by standards mournfully pray for me because they think I’m printing a final project report. When in reality I am printing mostly blank sheets that simply have “*my student fees hard at work” written on it. I have this many prints left not because I’ve never printed on campus, but because I have another fee that gives me unlimited prints in the agriculture engineering computer lab. If I could exchange food for prints I could end hunger on Texas A&M’s campus.
But this fee to finance a required portion of my class makes sense. Yes, I am still paying for it, but I expect a big bill when paying my tuition, not when I sit down to do my homework. Or better yet, let me do homework the old fashion way, out of the textbook I already bought, and use the grader that is already a part of the class structure to also grade the homework. Yes, it will cost more because there is more to grade, but if every student payed the grader 50 dollars in a class of 100, they would make 5,000 a semester. Way more than the hourly rate for a grader now. AND I would have 1000 more Ramen noodles to eat with the money I saved. That’s 200 days of food if you eat 5 meals a day. Sure you will develop heart disease at the age of 26 but think of the money you’ll save.
So I challenge you to challenge the status quo. Just because something is the way it is, that doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be. If there is a better way, a more efficient and effective way; then propose and push for the solution. Until then I’ll just be on my computer doing homework. As always, make good choices, share if you like what I said, comment if you have something to add, and I will see you on Thursday.