How to Student

College Textbooks

Basic Rules

  1. "Required Text" means you have to have it.
    • If you decide to share a book with your roommate, be aware that you will both need to read it at the same time, and you will both want to make marginal notes.
    • The material from some textbooks is also available in online articles, but it is not always the same. If you don't buy the book and you simply look up author and title of an article, you might be reading something very different from the assignment.
  2. The college bookstore has what you need. If you decide not to buy from the college bookstore:
    • Edition number is important. If the 12th edition is assigned and you buy the 11th, the page numbers will not match and some of the assigned material will not be in your book.
    • If you keep the receipt and need to change courses or sections, the college bookstore will normally give you a full refund with no questions asked. Online sellers might not.
    • A delay in delivery services might mean that you cannot read the assignments when they are due.
  3. If you choose to rent your textbooks, read over the rental rules. They are not all the same. Barnes & Noble says it's OK to write in the book (moderately) but not to highlight. Chegg says highlighting is just fine but you can't write in the book.

When to Read an Assignment

College does not work the same way as high school.

Do not use class time to do the reading for another class!

You will not get the material of the class where you are reading; you will not understand the reading very well; you will infuriate your instructor.

This behavior is childish and disrespectful.

Three How-to-read Videos

The videos below are valuable, but they do not take into account two major functions of our course textbook, A Writer's Reference. The book is designed to impart skills and to serve as a go-to book for information. The assessment procedure in this course is not to test you on whether you have absorbed the material; you show that you have internalized the information when you write good papers. Nevertheless, the videos below are useful, especially if you have never done much with a textbook (and they can help you with your other courses).

  1. Do You Actually Need to Read Your Textbooks?
  2. How to Read Your Textbooks More Efficiently
  3. 5 Active Reading Strategies for Textbook Assignments

What to do with your textbook when this course is done

Many of my students get rid of their textbook the instant the semester is over. They assume that they will never again have to write anything (and I suppose, if they are leaving the college, that's true), so they will never need a reference book which will answer questions for them and help them to write better.

Those of you who intend to continue at this institution will discover that you will be writing a lot of papers, and a quick-reference handbook for grammar issues and citation formats will be very valuable. Keep the book.

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author.
The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by Ashland University.
Revised 7/11/19 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: