7   +   4   =  

There are less than two weeks of freedom left, before the chaos of bus timetables, early morning lectures and “have you done your readings?” arrives. Fast approaching is the struggle of balancing the ability to be a sociable, functioning human being while making the most of the $30,000+ degree that’s sucking the life out of us.

The life of a student is stressful, and that’s before we consider the uncertainty and hardships of living arrangements (which includes rent and food, for those  living away from home). As students, we have a lot on our plates, and the last thing any of us need is more unnecessary (and, quite frankly) obnoxious expenses.

As we prepare to start the semester, energised and (semi-) motivated for the strains our sleep schedule is about to endure, one of the first things we have to deal with is organising textbooks.

Ah, yes, that heavyweight, paper goodness that contains so much valuable information and costs about half a month’s pay. Here we are, prepared to spend our money knowing it will be an investment and a useful resource. After all, the professor did deem it ‘essential reading’ so surely it must come in handy, right?

I am sorry to say that it might not. Many of the textbooks we will buy throughout our student life will prove to be a waste of the kidney we had to sell to afford it. However, if anyone has a different story, the student body would love to hear about it­ ­­­– myself included (note the envious tone).

There seems to be a trend of never actually using those expensive-ass textbooks. But of course, it’s a gamble not to buy them, because some are actually quite useful. Personally, I am a massive fan of the knowledge and information contained in between the sheets of paper, but my bank account has a different opinion, due to the suffering it endures every time I go onto the Co-Op website and have to fork out $80 for something like a communications toolkit. (I’ve used that textbook twice – now it just sits on my bookshelf gathering dust).

It’s no secret that most students don’t have a lot of money. What we do have, we use to buy a coffee for that 8:00 am start, or a drink after our inconveniently scheduled 7:00 pm class on a Friday.

So my advice for you, and for myself, is to wait.

Check the second-hand shop at uni; look on Gumtree, Ebay and Facebook; ship them in from overseas (to be honest, I still don’t quite understand how, but sometimes it is cheaper); look online for a PDF (no piracy though, we writers need to eat); or ask a past student if they’ll lend you their old copy (if it’s an edition you can use). Another hot tip before you buy the recommended texts is to double check that they will be useful by speaking with past students or your professor and to check the reading list to see if the unit coordinator provides photocopied versions of weekly readings.

I’m not going to tell you that every textbook on your outline will be obsolete, after all, they are materials for you to use, but to save you the doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Student life is already hard, we don’t need to make it harder on ourselves. So as you get ready to jump back into semester one – grab a water bottle, a notebook and pen, download “Elsie” (an app for Curtin students that is honestly great), and do your textbook research.

Good luck!

Note: No kidneys were ever actually sold, both of my kidneys are safe and still with me.