Searching out and applying for scholarships can be a crazy stressful time. For many of us the success or failure of our scholarship search will have a profound affect on the next few years of our lives. With such weighty concerns it's easy to overlook the basics. There are certain things that in hindsight everyone says, "of course you DON'T do that." But, in the haste and stress of filling out applications they always do. Here is a quick list that I'm search everyone is aware of — an Idiot's guide to the basics of scholarship search that.
- Start early. Since you can't start yesterday, start now! The earlier you begin your search the more opportunities you will find for financial aid. But wait, there's more. You'll also have more time to craft those applications in order to make sure they are perfect, further increasing your chances to win thousands of dollars!
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Use all your resources. Talk to your school guidance counselor as well as teachers you have relationships with. Find out if your job offers any scholarships, same thing for your parent's job. If you belonged to any organizations growing up look into those opportunities. There are many scholarship opportunities available to members of organizations such as the Boys and Girls Scouts. Of course use the internet. Scour it. Use services like FastWeb.com to help you quickly find opportunities you might e eligible for.
- Don't ignore small awards that fit your profile. They add up and many times you can simply use the same essays for multiple scholarships cutting down on time it takes to apply. Money is money and even if it takes you five hours to fill out an application for a $1,000 scholarship, it'll be a long time before you are in a position to make $200 an hour again.
- Don't spend money to win money. It's a scam and a suckers bet. Don't ever give someone your credit card or banking information when applying for a scholarship. When in doubt, contact the www.ftc.gov.
By: Dan Russell
In part one I described the more generic varieties of textbooks- new and used. Now as we have learned there are many different shapes, styles, and more importantly conditions of used books. And, quite frankly, all of the additional book varieties also come in new and used also but they will also turn up in more specific searches. The textbook savvy student should be aware of all their choices including the more difficult to find varieties including International Editions, Annotated Teacher's Editions, and eBooks.
International Editions can be HUGE bargains, sometimes selling for 90% less than the same US Edition. Many of these books have big stickers on the covers prohibiting their resale within the USA. But, only publishers and brick & mortar bookstores are really affected as they won't knowingly buy or sell these editions. For the common student the International Edition of a textbook can be similar to finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk. International Editions can be significantly less expensive for a variety of reasons and none of them affect the information in the text. It seems the International textbook audience is less demanding and publishers will use black and white rather than color pictures and photographs; the paper used might also be thinner or inferior to the paper used in US versions. Lastly, there is no market for a $150 textbook in Bombay so the book is priced for that market. Occasionally the book trickles into our market at a huge discount for a lucky student.
Annotated Teacher's Editions can be the envy of a dormitory. You'll be hard pressed to find a more helpful textbook. You might find a textbook chock full of notes in the margins and highlighted in pink AND yellow, but when push comes to shove, those notes in the margins might be dirty limericks and the highlighting might have just been an excuse to color on a rainy day. An Annotated Teacher's Edition however is pure gold. Teacher's Editions differ from student's in they often contain study guides, solutions to textbook problems, and answers to exams. As opposed to the well-highlighted student text, you know the info in a Teacher's Edition is the real McCoy. These books are given to teachers directly from the publishers. They then make their way to the open market. Their resale is restricted and certain websites including eBay will not list them. Other websites such as Campusbooks.com will list them where it is noted within the seller comments.
The final variety of harder to find textbook is the eBook. These are usually tougher to spot simply because they are never seen being lugged to class. This also happens to be one of the eBook's primary advantages. eBooks when found can also be significantly less expensive because you won't need to pay a shipping charge.
It's important to know all the options out there when looking at textbooks. Textbooks are a significant investment and its wise to understand all the varieties that exist in order to make the wisest purchase.
By: Dan Russell
Much like apples, textbooks come in many different varieties. I am not writing of simply new and used- the green and red apples of the textbook orchard. Today's student has their pick of more than just a new or used edition. Additional choices include: International editions which might be significantly less expensive, Teacher's editions which might be significantly more helpful, or even eBooks which might be significantly more convenient. We'll examine these in Part II.
New textbooks are simply defined. They are new, pristine, fresh, previously unowned. The book's pages are clean and crisp, the cover is in perfect condition, and it might even have that fresh off the presses new book smell. For all practical purposes you will never sell a new book, but you'll probably buy your share of them. Once bought a new book is used. It can be described as "like-new" but it's used and there is no getting around that fact.
Just as there are both sweet and sour green apples, there are many different varieties of used books, in general though a used book is any book that isn't new. The price, as well as the value, of a used book fluctuates greatly according to its condition. A "like-new" or once-used book can resell for 50% its original cost. However even the most expensive book you own won't resale for anything if it looks like it sat in water overnight. Keep in mind, if you can't open the pages to read the book no one else can either. In between those two extremes is an entire resale world. The majority of used books have minor wear and tear from notes in the margins and highlighted text to creased pages and scratched covers. Most companies are fairly lenient in their used buyback policies. Just make sure there's no water damage, no missing pages, and the spine of the book will standup for another year or two.
As I mentioned previously there are more than green and red apples in the orchard. In our next edition we will cover some of the more exotic apple varieties; I mean book types, including international editions, teacher's annotated editions, and eBooks. Though these types might be more exotic and thus harder to find that can make them even sweeter when they are found.
By: Dan Russell
As comfortable as most students are with the Internet, the prospect of selling one’s textbooks online is still fear inducing. It shouldn't be. Certainly it's a tad more involved than waiting in line at the buyback counter, but it should not induce fear. But this extra effort can be well worth your time.
Step 1- Visit Campusbooks.com and find out how much your book is worth through a direct buyback . Looking up this information is as easy as typing in the ISBN (10 or 13 digit barcode on the book cover) into a box. You might find that the buyback price doesn't cover the cost of shipping, let alone the hassle of selling it. This is a rare discovery though. More often than not though you will find a better buyback price than you would had you just gone to your school bookstore .
Step 2- Finalize your sale. This is typically taken care of as part of the listing, but occasionally afterwards. Many online merchants have set up wireless accounts for themselves through Paypal or similar services. This is a quick and easy away to get paid. The alternatives include personal check or cashiers check. If you plan on meeting the buyer in person to finalize the sale I recommend getting cash. I would always discourage the acceptance of a personal check.
Step 3-Get rid of your books. Unless you were able to sell your books to a fellow student on campus, or if you live in Boston to someone at a nearby campus, you'll need to go to the Post Office, UPS, or Fed Ex to ship them off to their new owner. Many online sites will actually allow you to print off a prepaid shipping label when they buy your books back. In those cases all you need to do is find a box and head off to the Post Office. Timeliness is critical here. Ship your books off as soon as possible. Just as you wouldn't want to wait for your money the buyer doesn't want to wait for their new books.
by: D. Russell
As a child I recall my parents and other adults referring to a trip to the Post Office as a nightmare. I recall going there on occasion and being beyond bored as I waited in line for what seemed like hours. The counters were high, I couldn't see anything, I had to stand the whole time as my mother or father had packages in their arms. It was horrible and for many years I had a phobia about going to the Post Office. I have come to learn that I was not alone. I fear students are out there whose fear of the Post Office prevents them from selling their books online. Students who would love to make more on their buybacks, but for whom the mere thought of going to the Post Office is paralyzing.
Having overcome my fear I hope to help others overcome theirs. Hopefully after reading this, your fears will be laid to rest as the Post Office is not a scary place. Most of the time people are nice and the worst part about the experience is waiting in line. Before heading off though you'll need to do some preliminary work. Let's say you need to ship some books off to Portland.
Step 1, you first need to know when they need to arrive in Portland. Someone is paying good money for your books and they expect them to arrive by a certain date. That date might be next month, or next week, but you will need to know it. Write down the date and the address.
Step 2 is to find a box for the book(s) or if you are mailing a light paperback any large envelope will do. If you have one lying around that is in good shape put the books in it and seal it. If you don't have a box lying around don't worry about it. You can get it at the Post Office, but don't forget the date and shipping address.
Step 3 — the Post Office. Take a deep breath, hold your box or books tight and walk through the door with your head held high. More than likely you will have to take a number and wait in line. But, that's ok because you've done that before. While you are waiting there, take advantage of the time and look around. Familiarize yourself with the surroundings. If you don't have a box, take a look at what they have.
Step 4 — you are at the front of the line and they just called your number. Don't panic. Calmly approach the counter. Take a deep breath and explain to the clerk that you need to mail this package to this address by this date. The clerk will then weigh it, and quote you a few price options for delivery. If the book needs to arrive ASAP you'll be paying a little bit more for next day air. If the buyer doesn't need it right away the slowest, cheapest option, is known as media mail but can take 10 to 14 days to arrive.
All that is left for you to do is pay for your postage and box that you bought to ship the book(s) in. That's it.
In the past, students were beholden to the campus buyback counter as the only outlet for their old books. Now however there are so many options online students no longer have to accept making pennies on the dollar for their used textbooks. Enterprising students are able to profit from their books, sometimes earning wads of cash rather than mere meal money.
Making the most off of your used books is not for the faint of heart. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort into selling your books online you can reap some nice rewards. To begin with it helps to NOT buy your books on campus in the first place. As soon as you sign up for next semester's classes get a hold of the required text list. Time is of the essence; the longer you have the more you can make of it. With list in hand start doing some online shopping. There are many schools that change the textbooks for courses from year to year which eliminate the "on-campus" demand and value of that text. But, if your school needs that text it has some value to you. The student at the other school might be happy to sell you that $150 book for $15 because it's $15 more than their bookstore was offering.
Not too long ago it could take forever bouncing from website-to-website trying to source the lowest priced book available. Luckily it's now 2008 and thanks to CampusBooks.com you only have to visit their website, type in your book's ISBN number and away you go. CampusBooks.com's online price tool allows you to view what the top book websites (including auction sites such as eBay.com) are selling your book for. You will also be able to get shipping costs and any of the other fine print that can add to the cost of your purchase.
The next step is eerily similar to the first, just the opposite. Instead of going online to buy your books, you go online to sell them. The exact same principles are at work and the book might be far more valuable on another campus than on your own. If you have time and patience take advantage of it. Typically the prices rise as the semester approaches and people become desperate. On some occasions the demand for a certain text might have skyrocketed for the next semester allowing a student to actually sell the book for more than they paid.
You are probably not going to make hundreds of dollars every single semester. There might be semesters where you only break even. But other years the stars might align and you'll strike gold with that geology book. Over the course of 4 years that it all adds up and maybe you've made $500-$1,000 which isn't too shabby.
By: Dan Russell
For decades the only place to sell back your used books was the campus bookstore. If you were lucky they would buy your books and if you were luckier you might get more than meal money. The Internet obviously changed all that. Now students have access to thousands of potential buyers; eBay alone has over 25,000 textbooks for sale. Even more traditional online bookstores Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com are buying back textbooks. The marketplace is so large that websites such as CampusBooks.com and Textbooks.com have been created to specialize in that area.
Students are now taking advantage of this opportunity in record numbers. More often selling their books back for more than their campus bookstore was offering. What could be better than that? What could possibly be the drawback you ask? Well for one it's just not as simple as turning on your computer and selling your books. With so many options it takes time sorting through them all. Luckily CampusBooks.com has an online price comparison tool that allows you to plug in your book's details and check out the going rate for your book over most of the major websites.
However it's still going to take some time to list all of your books for sale on those websites. Time is money and you'll be earning it. It won't take up hours of your time, but expect to spend more time than you would have waiting in line at the buyback counter. Once yours books are listed for sale online, you'll need to manage those sales, answer questions from prospective buyers, and if you're lucky sell those books. Then you need to lug all those books to the post office (hopefully it's on campus) and mail them off. Make sure you have the correct postage, the correct addresses, and the correct books going to the correct addresses.
Many of these websites will also take a commission out of your sale price reducing the amount you receive. That is when you finally receive your money. After all the work is said and done you'll still have to wait for your money to arrive. Waiting for a check to arrive isn't quite the same as the instant gratification you get walking out of the bookstore with a handful of cash. When all is said and done you might have only made a dollar or two more than the bookstore was offering. Cashing a check for $7.50 isn't necessarily better than walking out of the bookstore with $5 in cash.
Ultimately there are benefits and drawbacks to everything. The students who benefit the most from selling their books are the ones who understand everything involved. Even if you ultimately decide to sell your books on campus you'll be doing yourself a HUGE disservice by not taking a look at an online price comparison tool such as the one available on CampusBooks.com. It only takes a minute or two and you might be surprised to find out that other students are buying that Bio book for $100, which beats the $25 the bookstore offered your roommate.
By: Dan Russell
There are few bright spots to spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks at the beginning of the semester. In fact, aside from the knowledge gleaned from those books I can think of only one: selling them back towards the end of the semester and making some very easy money. It is important to note though that there are buyback options other than the friendly folks at the campus bookstore. They might not all provide the cash-in-hand instant gratification of the bookstore, but they might earn a few more bucks for your effort and patience.
Many students turn first towards the Internet when selling their books. Keep in mind that this takes more time and effort than simply turning on your computer and logging into Facebook. It takes time to find a buyer, time and effort to ship your books, and lastly plenty of time (though equally little effort) waiting for your money to arrive. There are many websites in addition to CampusBooks.com that can help you sell your books including eBay, Amazon.com, and even Half.com. CampusBooks.com provides an online price comparison which takes away most of the initial legwork associated with searching out the best price by showing what the buyers on other major websites are asking.
Enterprising students are also using Facebook.com, Craigslist.org, and MySpace.com to seek out buyers for their used books. This takes a little more effort, but you can save on shipping costs and commission. It's also a win-win opportunity for both buyer and seller because you've eliminated the costly middleman.
Keep in mind that when you sell your books online you might only make a dollar or two more and you won't have the instant gratification of trading in 20 pounds of books for $20 cash. Even if you make $30 rather than $20 you'll still have to wait a week or two to get the money. That isn't too convenient when you need money for dinner this weekend.
Many Schools have alternative or independent bookstores near campus. These bookstores will sometimes pay a higher price at buyback time to bring students through the doors. Occasionally these stores will have a website allowing students to easily look up their book's buyback price. Best of all, you walk out the door counting your cash.
By: Dan Russell
Selling back your textbooks can be the silver lining of many long semesters. Sometimes you can never put that horrible Biology 101 class behind until you actually sell the book back after the final. That Bio class gets the last laugh however when your classmate standing in front of you sells her book back for $50 while you receive $5 for the exact same book. Typically the bookstore employee won't be able to offer an explanation beyond, "I'm sorry that's just what the system told me." Truth be told when you get paid minimum wage you aren't privy to the reasons behind the buyback variances. I however can let you know that the two biggest factors that affect buyback prices are timing and simple economic supply and demand.
The reason for the huge swing in buyback prices between one book and the next is pure supply and demand. The demand for that Bio book consists of 50 students next semester. This means that the bookstore will only pay a premium on the first 50 books that are sold back. Every book sold back after the 50th will unfortunately be at a greatly reduced price. Timing is key during buyback season. The earlier you are able to sell back your texts the more likely you are to fall within the Bookstore's demand criteria. The more money you are going to make.
There is a far more important factor at work than timing. You can curse the people standing at the bookstore counter but they aren't the ones setting the demand for next semester's books. Most students don't think about it, but it's the professors who set the demand. The bookstores aren't forcing you to buy that $300 Shakespeare Folio. The Instructors are the ones who put together the required text lists. Unfortunately, their students' financial wellbeing isn't usually on their minds when they do this.
The earlier a Professor is able to place his or her book order the more beneficial it is to the bookstore and subsequently to the students. In fact the Professor's order is the single most important factor in establishing demand for textbooks across the country. If the bookstore knows that a specific textbook will be used the following the semester the buyback price can skyrocket. Again, the price is determined by the demand. If you want to make the most on your buybacks let your professors know how much you learned from the textbook and encourage them to reorder them quickly. Like students, most Instructors don't think about next semester's books until the end of the current semester.
By: Dan Russell
Starting next week we are going to teach you all the things you need to know about the textbook buyback process. Our four part series will cover what affects the buyback prices, how to get the most from your books, what options you have and why the bookstore is not always the best option.
The real key in maximizing your textbook buyback potential is to make sure you are armed with the knowledge to make the right decision. Similar to making a big purchase, getting the most from your textbooks requires that you start early, do your research and know your options.
You may be asking yourself "what can I do now?" That answer is simple. Encourage your professor to let the bookstore know if they will be using the book again next semester. The most value for your book will come from your on campus bookstores when the book is being used again the next semester. While this will not guarantee you the maximum amount for your book it will greatly help the process.
As more and more articles are written about the high cost of textbooks what many experts fail to remind students is that in many cases the book does have value at the end of the semester. We have all heard the horror stories of paying $150 dollars and getting $15 back. But there are also students who got $50 to $75 for that same book.
Think of it like this. If I buy my book for $150 and sell it for $75 at the end of the semester I really just rented the textbook for $75. While the math will not always be this pretty, neither was getting that Wii that you are playing with. It requires a bit of effort, a desire and being smarter than the other students who are doing nothing more than standing in line.
So check back with us as we begin to explore how you can get the most of your textbooks this buyback season.
by: Jeff Cohen