Fond memories of college.
This post was inspired by FSP's post about textbooks. It got kind of long so I put it over here instead.
Basically she was writing about how students complain that textbooks are too expensive. Most of the 27 comments there so far seemed to agree, that textbooks were expensive and only useful for one semester, maybe not even a semester if the professor didn't use them effectively (which seems to be the norm?).
I guess I was unusually lucky and/or careful about which classes I took.
My school was fantastic about making class evaluations available, and most professors handed out a syllabus on the first day and/or required texts were clearly marked in the bookstore.
You could always find out ahead of time which professors sucked, and which ones tended to pick the expensive, worthless textbooks. That was a sure sign that the professor would suck, no matter what the evaluations said.
Although in a previous post I considered throwing them all away, with few exceptions, I still have all my college texts, for both electives and non-electives. They were all really well written, and my professors used them effectively. If they didn't, I read them anyway. None were disappointing.
I was very serious about college: I went with a long view in mind. I deliberately chose classes based on what I always wanted to know or thought I would need to know later. I already knew what I wanted to do: run my own research lab. I figured my goal was to tool up with a good fundamental understanding of basic skills. And for the most part, I think I achieved that.
Oh sure, there are some classes I wish now that I could have taken, and others that were required but useless. But I can honestly say I can only think of one or two that were a total waste of time.
(unlike most of the 12 years in public school prior to that...)
I enjoyed being able to buy my textbooks, and discovered that for the price, it was worth it to be able to highlight and write in them, which I couldn't do in public school prior to that, and which I found greatly increased my connection with the material.
For the first time, I really felt engaged. I felt like I was finally not just allowed, in the privacy of my room, to think on my own. I was encouraged, I was challenged, I was inspired! Thinking for myself works really well for me!
(I felt smart, for the first time, in college, and it was fun to feel smart...)
And yes, compared to the outrageous price of tuition, the cost of the textbooks seemed a small price to pay for learning. Plus, you got something tangible! Learning you can actually hold in your hand!