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Drake to introduce new optional textbook program

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On top of tuition, housing and all the other costs that come with college, textbooks and course materials are an extra financial burden that is difficult to plan for. However, Drake is working on a program to ease student worries about textbook costs.

Beginning in the fall 2024 semester, full-time Drake undergraduates will be automatically opted into the Course Ready program, which will provide all textbooks and class materials for a $255 fee per semester. For part-time students, the cost is $17 per credit hour. The program is administered by eCampus, which provides the Bulldog Shop with materials and textbooks. According to Drake’s Chief of Staff Nate Reagen, who spearheaded the program, students can opt in and out on a per-semester basis to make the best decision for themselves.

“It’s convenient,” Reagen said. “It’ll save you time, and in a lot of cases, [it’s going to] save you money. And if it doesn’t save you money, you can opt out.”

Reagen believes the program would especially appeal to incoming first-years. Junior  Ella Kocina agrees. 

“As a first-year, I think it would be really beneficial because there’s so many other things that you’re adjusting to when you get here,” Kocina, who majors in biochemistry, cell and molecular biology and Spanish, said. “To not have to worry about books and getting what you need is probably really beneficial.”

However, many students, including Kocina, find themselves spending less on textbooks and supplies in later years.

Senior health sciences major Megan Kearns said she spent $100 to $200 on class materials each semester during her first two years at Drake and hasn’t bought any books this year.

“If you are a student with a lot of course materials, [it] could be helpful to not have to worry about that,” Kearns said. “But for me, I feel like [$255 is] more than I would be willing to pay.”

Textbooks and course materials pose a greater financial burden in some programs.

“As a business student, I think every single semester I’ve been at Drake I’ve spent well over [$255]” Academic Affairs Senator and senior Melissa Moxon said in a Nov. 30 Student Senate meeting where Reagen presented information about the program. “So I would definitely opt in if I would still be here.”

Another goal of the Course Ready program is to increase student preparedness for class. According to a faculty survey conducted in the fall of 2022, only half of students come prepared with all the required class materials and correct textbook editions on the first day of class. Through this program, Reagen hopes to “level the academic playing field.”

Drake faculty, with support from Cowles Library, are working on updating the course catalog so all textbook and materials costs are listed come registration for the fall semester, so students can make an informed decision on whether the Course Ready program is right for them. 

Several other universities, including Xavier University, Concordia College and the University of California, Davis use a similar program. The difference between their programs and Drake’s, according to Reagen, is that Drake’s Course Ready program is cheaper.

“We already have a tuition guarantee,” Reagen said. “You add a planned textbook cost, [and] that makes [Drake] pretty compelling.”

Reagen’s next goal is to increase student awareness, because if a student doesn’t know about the program, they may be confused by the extra $255 charge in their account. The marketing plan, which will be rolled out later this semester, will include posters, emails and social media posts. Reagen is working with Student Body President Ruwayda Egal to kick off the student marketing campaign. 

“There’s over 2,700 undergrads,” Reagen said in a follow-up email. “We just want to make sure that everyone is aware of the new program.”

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