04/01/2013

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Things to Think About Regarding Ebook Textbooks Many colleges and universities are switching to ebooks for textbooks. These digital versions of printed textbooks typically have all the content of the printed textbook, with extra materials or tools. At some schools, the switch to digital textbooks is a matter of policy; students are required to have a compatible computer or tablet and digital textbooks are given preference in ordering and selecting textbooks for student use. At other schools, the decision to use or not use ebooks is left up to the individual faculty member, or sometimes, the department. There are a number of advantages to digital textbooks. They weigh less, they often include tools to highlight passage and take notes, or create flashcards for study or export passages for use in a research paper. In some cases, they cost less; a popular college biology text is almost 200.00 as a printed textbook, but only $80.00 as a digital textbook to be used on a computer or tablet or Kindle ereader. Before you buy that digital textbook at your campus bookstore, you might want to think about the following points: Make sure that the ebook in question is compatible with your hardware and software. In many cases you are not buying the ebook you are borrowing, renting, or leasing it. In other words, it will disappear or cease to function at some point. Make sure you’ll have access to the ebook as long as you need it. Keep in mind that you may want to consult this year’s Chemistry (or French or any other subject) text book next year when you take the next class in the sequence. Check prices; is the same digital ebook available off campus for less? If you aren’t going to need the book in the future, look into renting or borrowing the digital book; many campus libraries will let students borrow digital textbooks. If your instructor isn’t requiring the ebook version of the textbook, and the printed book covers the same material, you might want to check the price on the printed book. If the book as been used on the campus before, you may be able to buy a used copy very cheaply. Make a note of any special registration codes or passwords you need to use the ebook. Keep in mind that even if you are buying the ebook, it may no longer function at some point in the future, especially if you change computers or upgrade to a new version of the operating system. The key thing to remember about using digital textbooks is that if the book isn’t an effective study tool, no matter how convenient or interactive it is, it’s not going to help you master the material you need to pass the course. Always keep in mind the point of any book is to enhance your learning. (Originally written for College Adviser)
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Planning Before Transferring Credits If you're taking college classes part-time because you have a day job, and you're planning on someday using all those class credits towards a degree, you need to have a plan. You don't have to know what degree or major you'll eventually have, (though that can make things easier later), but you do need to think about what classes will "count" towards your degree, and what classes won't. College classes have credits (sometimes called "units") assigned to them; think of them as a bit like points. You generally need a certain number of credits in various subject areas for the courses you take that aren't required by your major. Those are typically called "general education" requirements or classes. You might be required to have, for instance, 12 credits of English, for your general education requirements. If you're taking classes at a local community college, or through an online extension program, you want to make sure that those classes and credits will transfer when you start taking classes towards a degree. This can be a little tricky. The process of making the classes you take at one institution count towards a degree at another institution is called transfer credit, credit transfer, or advanced standing. When you formally apply to a college as an applicant, the college will ask for transcripts for all the other colleges you have attended. The college will evaluate each class on your transcripts in terms of your performance and the content of the class. They will decide, on a class-by-class basis which classes will transfer, how much credit will be assigned to each class, and whether or not the class will count towards your general education requirements and/or your major. What you should do is ask about transfer credit before you enroll in a course. Check with the school where you are taking the class, and, if possible, with the school where you hope to transfer. Typically, classes that are taught at accredited institutions within a state university system or state community college will transfer to colleges in that system, but you should ask before enrolling, and you should be aware that the status of an individual class may change. As a precaution, you should keep a copy of the class description in the school's official catalog, your work for that class, your transcript and, most especially, the official syllabus for the class. [Originally written for College Adviser]