Pro Tip- Wait to buy books. If you don’t need to buy them, save the money.
Before the semester starts, the school bookstore is going to put out a list of books you will “probably” need for the semester. The reason is say “probably” is because, although most books will be labeled as required, many times they are not. This brings me to my first point: wait to buy books until you meet in class for the first time. You will probably have a required book for most classes, but when you get to class on the first day, many times, the professor has a different book then is listed or provides a cheaper option than the bookstore offers.
Next, after going to class and finding what books are required, look online for a cheaper option. Amazon or eBay have used versions of most books for sale. Also, many of the newer more expensive books, have e-book versions for around half the price. Next, search the school’s library and surrounding school’s libraries for your books. Although less likely, you can find books that you can rent through the library for free. The only stipulation is that you will need to renew this book a few times throughout the semester, which is important to avoid any late fees. Lastly, search the book title in Google and cross your fingers. This is one of the less likely ways to find your books for free, but it has worked for me. Most times, the books are PDF’s, published as an older version. Be sure to ask the professor before trying to use any outdated versions of your required texts, sometimes homework questions are changed from version to version, and this can be problematic if homework is assigned from the newer text.
If funds are short, you can always just not buy the books or wait until you are assigned an assignment or homework directly from them. Although this method is highly risky, it has worked for me multiple times. There is always one class that requires a textbook for “reading” purposes only. These books theoretically can be skipped, IF and only IF, you can supplement this book with class notetaking and professor provided PowerPoint slides. Depending on your learning style, this can be difficult to accomplish, so be cautious and prepared to buy the book if you feel you are underperforming.
Pro Tip: Don’t buy books if you don’t need too. Save the money.