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Maybe this question is for current students, but do we need textbooks at all or can we suffice with handouts and class notes? I spoke with some students and they say textbooks are not necessary as such. any thoughts on this? thanks WG
Without wishing to seem really unhelpful, but it really depends on the class. I would follow these steps:
a) buy the book if it is clearly going to be useful for your career path -fixed income and options books are always going to be useful if you want to go into S&T, for example. Be careful with this though, and make sure it is a decent text. Core classes often have very basic texts.
b) don't buy texts before the class starts otherwise. Often the prof will tell you that they don't really use the book.
c) remember there is a library. It may well have that $200 lithograph text that you wanted to check out but not buy.
d) see if your mates have it, or the year above, and ask their feeling on it. If there are loads being sold on by the year above, chances are it isn't a book worth buying.
like 3underscore said it depends on the professor, however professors will generally not list a book on their syllabus if it's not necessary - they know that students have limited resources and will not recommend a book that's of no use to the class. However, you can always play it safe and ask, but I would suggest contacting the professor BEFORE the class starts to ask ("Hello Professor So-and-so, I'd just like to confirm that the following books are required for the class"), because if you wait until the first day of class and the professor assigns reading from a book you don't have due the next day, you will be stuck!
3underscore nailed it. I would say MOST classes don't require the textbooks. Some classes do, but only for the problem sets.
And don't go by what the prof says. I've had a ton of profs say "yes, you need the textbook", then I buy it and never crack it. Some will be honest and say you don't need it others won't (especially if it's one they wrote).
Just don't buy the textbook until you know you absolutely need it. Once you get to know people, you can also share text books. I did that in the spring!
I'm about 3/4th through, and I've only bought 2 books. I don't agree with the justification that "you'll always need the book later". First, there's always Google, where you can find whatever you're looking for faster, and second, if you REALLY think you'll need the book, wait awhile and buy it when it's dirt cheap.
Even if you do buy the book for your class, I'd recommend selling it after the class to get at least half your money back, then buy it back after a year or so if you think you'll need it.
i agree with the wait and see philosophy, i only bought my finance textbook b/c it's considered the most comprehensive go-to resource for finance majors...i should get good traction from it over my two years. also, if you just HAVE to have a book in your sole possession, consider renting the textbook, you can usually rent a textbook for 1/3 to 1/2 it's price for the quarter/semester.
My story of an average chick who stumbled into the 700+ club http://gmatclub.com/forum/700-clubbers-add-your-name-to-the-list-64636-100.html#p600519 My 2009-2010 Application Decisions http://gmatclub.com/forum/2010-profiles-w-admit-dings-results-no-discussion-78475.html?view-post=600694#p600694
I can't see ebooks working for academic texts until the more advanced versions come out - they need scale and more features than a regular book. I do want an ereader for the hundreds of pdf academic texts I have to keep printing out (this is normal work, not business school), and in the same way they may be convenient for cases.
There was an awesome ereader planned that many of us thought would be great at rendering formulas from LATEX, but it got canned recently.