Little things professors can do to help students save money

By Kyle Harding, Opinion Editor


I believe if you were to ask every EWU administrator and professor if they care about the financial burdens being placed on students, they would overwhelmingly say that they do.

However, their policies do not always reflect that. There are many small ways they could help students cut costs.

We live in amazing technological times. Most of us carry around a phone that has computing power that outshines the best desktop machines from just a few years ago. We also have the technology to turn in most assignments online. Many professors have embraced this, especially with the advent of Canvas, which is far superior to the old Blackboard system.

There are also professors who do not embrace technology. My problem, surprisingly, is not with them. It is with the professors who seem to welcome the technology while keeping one foot in the past. Example: I have a professor who has the class turn in papers on Canvas. Great. This professor then also wants the class to bring in a hard copy. Sometimes, she asks for multiple hard copies, as many as four, for peer reviewing. The nature of technology is such that peer reviewing could easily be accomplished online. In fact, Canvas has that feature built in. While some classes will always need to print, most of our classes could eliminate the need for hard copies, thus eliminating the fee that pays for our print credit.

Printing costs are miniscule compared to textbooks. Ask a group of college students what frustrates them the most, and you are almost guaranteed to hear “cost of textbooks” as an answer. There is not much the university can do regarding textbook costs in general. There is, however, at least one class offered at EWU in which they could help tremendously. That is computer literacy. Eastern’s CPLA class requires a custom textbook. I suppose this is the only university that offers computer literacy classes. There must be no mass-produced computer literacy books on the market. While it is flattering to have our own book built just for us, it is also very expensive.

Some textbooks are not so expensive, and being mass-produced, are easy to buy online. But they are still a waste of money if a professor puts them on the required materials list and then never teaches from them.

Some of you who go on the EWU bookstore’s website to see what books are required, before you proceed to Amazon to buy them at half the cost, may have noticed study aids listed as required materials for some classes. They cost $6.95 and sometimes there are four separate ones listed for a single class. They appear to have been added without consulting the professor teaching the class, because I have never seen one used and I have had a professor tell the class he did not even know what they were.

None of these actions would touch the main reason why college is so expensive these days, which is tuition rising at several times the rate of inflation. Nonetheless, they are a few small steps individual professors or administrators could take to cut unnecessary costs.