I am a BROKE College Student….Why do I need to sell a kidney so I can buy my science textbooks?!?!?!?!

So….today I finished the third day of the new Spring 2012 term at Medgar Evers College. I’m psyched, especially since this is my last full term of prereqs, only one class, Developmental Psychology left! On the other hand I am taking Organic Chemistry I, Microbiology 403, and the last section of Anatomy and Physiology, three sciences with labs, and SUPER challenging sciences at that! So basically, I can kiss any semblance of a social life goodbye until May 24 and will be renting a desk in the library for the duration! It’s only the third day and I can barely keep my eyes open to write this post!!!

So…once again I digress…(I think this sentence has shown up in every one of my posts!!!)…on to the main subject of this post. Can anyone give me some semblance of a logical reason for why textbooks for college science courses need you to donate organs to pay for??!!?? Usually, I rely on handy used book search engines and Amazon to score deeply discounted used textbooks. However, much to my chagrin when I looked up the ISBN for my Organic Chemistry text, the absolute cheapest available was $250.00!!!!! What’s wrong with this picture?!?!? It’s very common knowledge that being broke goes hand in hand with being a full-time college student. It’s the exception to come across a college student swimming in dough and almost always it’s their parents dough not theirs! I am going to college, like most others, in hopes to eventually make some money off this enormous investment of my time and money!

So, you ask what happened? Did I have to donate blood to pay for my Organic books??? Well, it turns out the Medgar Evers College bookstore has a special soft cover package of the same text packaged with the lab book as well for a measly $246.00. (Please note I write measly with the greatest degree of sarcasm available!) Pardon my vulgarity, but the bottom line is the publishers have college students by the cajones! What choice do we have? I need to read the book so I can get an A but I also resent having to pay that much to earn an A!

The scariest thing is that I bet the book probably costs McGraw Hill max $15.00 to print! That’s a VERY handsome profit! The publishers lack of pity for the college students’ pocketbook is beyond alarming!

So I am sure I am the millionth student to complain about the unfairness of this situation but have I, or you actually done anything about it besides bellyache? NO..and why pray tell is that??? Because the bottom line is there is not a d*mn thing any of us can do about it!!!

I am more than open to suggestions…does anybody have one?

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How did I end up here? My Educational Journey..Bonus: How to Succeed in College and Earn As!!!!

I have spent much of my adult life in college. I completed the traditional track, finishing my BA in History Minor in African American Ethnic Studies from Adelphi University at the age of 21. I loved Adelphi so much, that I stayed on another two years to complete my Master’s in Secondary Social Studies Education in 2009. As you may or may not know, from 2009 until the present, has to be one of the worst times in history to try to land a job in the education system! So I bounced around, worked retail and a telephone sales job at a Manhattan IT school which I absolutely abhorred! So after endless resumes sent out, applications, and countless interviews. I started to search for another answer. I knew what I wanted, I want a career, I do not need to be rich but my husband and I would eventually like a family and a house one day and I would like to be able to afford both. (We are sick of paying the absolutely ridiculous rental rates in Brooklyn!) Equally important, I needed a job that would be intellectually stimulating, offer excitement, variety, and NOT be in a cubicle! I started to research which sectors of the economy were still hiring even in the recession.

A little research revealed, that the Health Care industry was one of the few sectors that had still shown significant growth in the past few years. I knew I was not ready for the seven year commitment required to complete an MD. So, I looked for another answer, I attended an information session about the Physician Assistant Program at Pace University. I was thrilled, it was a perfect fit and it would only take 27 months to complete! As I did not have any science courses yet under my belt, I did have a significant amount of prerequisites to complete before being eligible to even apply. So I came to a crossroad, I did not know what to do. I had already dedicated a significant amount of time and accrued significant student debt, that I had yet to pay, did it make sense to go back to school, for something entirely different? It was a huge dilemma for me but with the support of my husband and family, I decided to take the plunge!

I enrolled at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, mainly because of the affordable cost of the CUNY system and it is relatively close to our apartment. I was pretty terrified I had not taken any Biology or Chemistry courses in ten years….what if I was terrible at it?!?!?! I graduated with a 3.67 in my BA and 3.881 in my MA so I have always been an excellent student, but would I have the same success in science???? So it was with equal parts trepidation and excitement, that I found myself sitting in my first class at Medgar Evers College: Anatomy and Physiology, Part I. To my delight, I loved all my courses! It was A LOT of work but I was earning good grades! On a side note, I cannot more enthusiastically endorse Medgar Evers College, my experiences there have been absolutely amazing! All of my professors have been Ph.Ds and really know their topic area. Equally important, they always have an office door open for extra help and questions. I have also made some amazing new friends. If considering CUNY, please look into Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, you will not be disappointed, I can promise you that! At a total cost of $5000.00 per a year, you simply cannot go wrong!

The irony here is that all through high school if anyone asked, my career goals, I told them I was going to become a pediatrician! So it’s almost as if I have come full circle. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times: “Life makes its’ own plans…you never know how things will turn out!” I am optimistic though. My only worry now, is that I will complete all my prerequisites and not get into any programs! I have almost a 3.8 (all As but one C in a summer chemistry course is killing me!) If God forbid, I do not get in anywhere, these past two years will basically be for naught! So please, keep your fingers crossed for me!!!

So, now on to the second point of this post, my thoughts on succeeding in college. I was prompted to write this post after something my professor said in my Anatomy and Physiology course this past term. I had done really well on a test, that a majority of the class had failed, so to my embarrassment (I blush a bright red very easily!), Dr. Stoddart announced to the class: “study with Kirsten!” So, after class, another student came up to me and asked me how I studied and what advice I could offer. I looked at her and said verbatim “I read the book.” That is the key, there are no gimmicks to earning good grades, just read your textbook! I was, and still am shocked, at the number of college students who do not read the textbook for the course! I know texts are ridiculously expensive, especially for the sciences, but every college library has all the textbooks on reserve for students, so, there are no excuses! The other key, is do not attempt to study the night before the exam! College work requires constant effort, reading, notes, and practice problems! I have found the rule for every hour of class, you should be putting in about 2.5 hours of reading at home! Ideally, the night before an exam should be spent on a short review, a good dinner, and most importantly, a full night’s sleep! That’s it, the key to good grades, it is as simple at that!!!

I have found I have difficulty getting studying done in my apartment. Between my hubby, TV, and housework there’s just way too many distractions! I have to place myself into an environment where there is absolutely nothing else I could be doing, except eating books! For me, this is the library, find a place that works for you!. I have also found that I must listen to either classical music or instrumental jazz like Miles Davis or Charles Mingus to really concentrate. Flashcards have also been immeasurably helpful to me, as a commuter on the NYC Public Transit System, whether waiting on the train or bus, or sitting on one of the two, I always have time to study my flashcards. I usually make them myself, but for Anatomy and Physiology, I finally broke down and purchased a set last term from Barnes and Noble. There are from Mosebly and I have found them to be extremely useful. The only complaint I have is that they do not list functions, so I have taken to writing directly on the cards themselves. They were about $30.00 and well worth it! Find something that works for you. What study tools have been worthwhile for you?

Can anyone relate to my story? What study tips can you offer?

Best of luck and Happy Studying!!! 🙂

“Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.” ~Warren G. Bennis