After the unprecedented 2020-21 academic year, students are looking forward to getting back on campus and leaving remote learning behind. While the worst of the pandemic is hopefully in the rear view mirror, the next school year will definitely not be a return to normal as we knew it just yet. The biggest issues will still be masking and vaccinations. While Universities have traditionally encouraged some vaccinations, it really was not a requirement until recent years when local college meningitis outbreaks led to some Universities requiring meningitis vaccines for incoming students. With the return to in person instruction this fall and the proliferation of covid-19 vaccinations, hundreds of Universities are now requiring covid vaccinations for students, faculty and staff while others are not. Students this year face a variety of issues regarding vaccinations as they prepare to head back to campus.

Covid Vaccinations

The biggest issue with Covid vaccinations is that they have not been approved by the FDA yet due to the extremely limited time that they have been tested. Prior to the Covid vaccine, the fastest vaccine approval by the FDA was 4 years. The current vaccines available in the US are being made available by what is called an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which basically overrides the traditional approval process due to the emergency situation of the Covid 19 pandemic. So if the vaccine is not approved by the FDA, can it be mandated by Colleges and Universities? That is a question that is currently playing out in the courts. Some campuses like Rutgers have had student protests against the vaccine mandates, and some employees such as at a hospital in Houston have sued their employers to fight EUA vaccine mandates. Ultimately it seems as if the FDA will approve the vaccine, and the courts will allow it to be mandated so these issues might be moot.

Smorgasbord of shots?

International students face a particularly difficult choice if they have been vaccinated in their home country by a vaccine that is not authorized by the FDA EUA; these students face a difficult choice of mixing different Covid vaccines without any idea of if it might provide additional protection, or how it might impact their health. It seems unethical for a University to require a student to get 2 different sets of injections without regard to side effects or efficacy as a precondition to getting an education, so hopefully this one will resolve itself and allow admission for international students without having to be vaccinated twice with different vaccines.

Be Your Own Advocate

Ultimately as a college student it boils down to making the decision that is best for you and your family. Covid 19 has been devastating, but it has primarily afflicted the elderly and those with underlying comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, etc. If you are a young, healthy college student your personal risk profile is very low. The vaccines have their own set of risks for college students as well; there are reports of serious adverse reactions among college students and even deaths. If you are vaccinated, then you should be protected and don’t have anything to fear from the non vaccinated. If someone chooses not to vaccinate themselves, then that is a risk they are taking for themselves. If you are successfully vaccinated, then you are doing your share to help end the pandemic and should be commended. If you are leery of vaccinations then perhaps you should consider a school in a state that doesn’t require covid vaccinations. In any case it remains to be seen whether in the future a student will have control over medical interventions on their own healthy bodies, and vaccine mandates will be used as a coercive tool to force medical interventions on healthy young people against a disease for which their risk of death or even hospitalization is very low.

The strangest year in higher education in 100 years is coming to an end, classes are ending, and it’s time to sell your used textbooks again. While things might have looked a lot different on your campus this year (if you were even on campus!), the basics of buying and selling textbooks (also known as “textbook buyback” since the campus bookstores buy back your used book) haven’t changed much.

Some things never change

Although the pandemic disrupted virtually every aspect of everyone’s life over the last year, the basic laws of economics and supply and demand remain the same. The most important rule of thumb when selling your used textbooks is that you want to sell when everyone is buying (and buy when everyone is selling!). For us that means if you sell your textbook in May when everyone else is doing the same, and not many people are buying, then you will get less money for your books. If you can wait a couple months until July or August to sell when everyone is buying, then you will get substantially more for your books. Obviously this doesn’t work if you lose or damage your books, so if you don’t trust yourself to keep those expensive textbooks safe and sound then it’s probably better to sell in May and go away.

Buyback Basics

The ground rules for selling books that we posted in 2017 remain the same.

Avoid the Campus Bookstore:
they have a local monopoly, and will always offer you the least money for your books.

Shop Around: Use the Campusbooks.com sell tool to compare prices and get the most money for your used books.

Be Honest:
Don’t try to oversell the condition of your used textbook. It will just create more headaches for you. If Fido ate chapter 7, then let them know. Better to get something than nothing.

Cash or Credit? Make sure you know if the merchant you sell to is offering you cash or store credit. Merchants usually will offer more in credit than they will in cash.

CampusBooks.com Tools

In Textbook Buyback Part 2, we explored the CampusBooks.com tools that help you save money on textbooks. The CampusBooks Buy Vs Rent Superbot has only gotten smarter over the years and gives you one of the most powerful tools around to compare your total cost of ownership, and whether it makes sense to buy vs rent your textbooks. You can use the tool to see what the expected selling price of your book would be in the future based on historical trends. Used in conjunction with the CampusBooks.com buyback price comparison, and you have the best tools at your disposal to make sure you get the most money for your used textbooks.

Blogging is an enjoyable way to express yourself, share your knowledge, and strengthen your writing skills in between classes. Two thirds of people’s main reason for blogging is to generate income, while 31% of bloggers successfully earn money from their content. Unlike writing an essay, however, writing for an online audience requires a different set of skills and considerations. By taking the time to hone your writing skills to suit the digital sphere, you’ll get your content in front of a bigger audience and become an all-round stronger writer.

Write engaging content

Web content typically needs to be more lively and engaging than the formal academic work you’re used to writing. Whereas the average human attention span was found to be twelve seconds in the year 2000, it’s now a mere eight seconds long — that’s one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. You therefore need to ensure your web articles do everything they can to hook readers and keep their attention. In particular, infographics are a great way to provide readers with a visual representation of your content and increase both article visibility and engagement. They’re especially useful for breaking up, summarizing, and clarifying long-form, complex, and data-driven content. Fortunately, infographics aren’t complicated to put together. You just need to first create an outline which includes the key driving facts, statements or numbers in your article. Free online design tools like (Venngage or Piktochart) can then be used to create and finalize your infographic.


Pay attention to composition

Only 16% of online readers read content word-for-word. 79% of readers admit to just scanning blog posts rather than reading the entire piece. So, when writing for an online audience, it’s important to use these statistics to your advantage and implement key web-specific composition strategies. Unlike with academic writing, you don’t want to bore the reader with long and solid blocks of text. For example, headings and subheadings can help organize the page into digestible sections and help readers find specific information. Ideally, they should be short (between four and eight words) and include keywords from the associated paragraphs. Additionally, use bullet points to make your content more user-friendly. Bullet points are great for breaking up long paragraphs and capturing the attention of scanners and turning them into readers.

Use SEO

Including SEO (search engine optimization) keywords in your content means your articles will rank higher in the search engine results, and therefore be more easily found by readers searching for that information. While it’s beneficial to incorporate relevant keywords naturally into your content, it’s just as important not to overdo it. Primarily focus on crafting engaging, unique and informative content. Search engines (and readers) reward strong writing above all, whereas overusing keywords can injure search engine rankings and decrease visibility.

Writing for the web can be an enjoyable hobby that eventually becomes financially rewarding. By taking care to tailor your articles to suit the web, you’ll attract a wider audience and strengthen your overall writing skills

Spring Break 2020 was a pivotal moment in higher education history. Upon learning about the rapidly spreading coronavirus, schools around the world shut down their campuses — many while students were still on spring break. College students abruptly went home and began navigating a world of remote learning.

A year later, schools still struggle to mitigate COVID-19 spread, and students are itching for the sunshine. As temperatures rise throughout the United States, what can you expect for Spring Break 2021?


Spring break canceled

The main approach that many universities have taken is simple: Spring Break 2021 is canceled. Some university officials chose to eliminate the vacation entirely to stop students from traveling during the annual academic respite. But spring break hotspots, like Miami Beach, are seeing a massive turnout of college spring breakers nonetheless.

With most of their classes over Zoom anyway, students complete coursework using their hotel’s WiFi and then heading out to the beach. While it’s easy to understand indulgent behavior after a very challenging year, reports suggest that students disregard COVID-19 safety precautions: skipping masks and overfilling hotel rooms. Public health officials warn against potential spikes on campus once students return.

Incentivized staycations

Some institutions are trying a different approach. Rather than canceling spring break, UC Davis is offering students money to stay in town for their spring break. Students are experiencing a challenging year, and a few days off from the stress of assignments and midterms are no doubt needed.

Leaving campus to vacation is the bigger concern, as increased travel coincides with increased virus spread. Awarding some extra cash to stay close to home not only boosts the local economy, but also incentivizes students to stay nearby while still getting some needed self-care.

Match your mask to your swimsuit

Whether your school is actually observing spring break or not, there are a couple of precautions students should take. If possible, get your flu vaccine, and if available, your COVID-19 vaccine. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Don’t share your drinks. Try to social distance. If you decide to travel and socialize, make sure to quarantine upon returning to campus to eliminate virus spread. If you’re feeling any symptoms at all, get tested.

Be creative with your spring break. Try camping instead of overfilling vacation rentals. Hit the beach but not the bar. There are plenty of creative ways to celebrate the season and keep campus safe.

Which schools are doing a great job of keeping COVID cases low and staying open? What’s their secret?

More stressful than final exams or roommate disagreements, the pandemic has upturned traditional college expectations. Institutions around the world transitioned to a remote-learning environment, and many saw enrollment suffer because of it. As the tides turned in 2021 with the vaccine rollout and holiday spikes ebbing, some schools are re-engaging with in-person teaching, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Penn State University. But college towns worry about large student gatherings and shared residential spaces facilitating quickly-spreading clusters throughout the local community. But it’s not all doom and gloom; certain campuses are out-performing others to operate somewhat normally and maintain low COVID cases. What steps have they taken to keep their campuses safe?

Creating a Campus Task Force

One of the first key steps in managing the virus’s impact on campus was to develop a COVID task force. Wagner College in New York started early, developing its own Pandemic Response Team in January 2020. Leveraging medical and public health experts through the northeast, Wagner mandated weekly testing protocols and transparent reporting mechanisms. The task force was critical in the college’s success; rather than quickly reacting to concerns or overcorrecting, stakeholders throughout campus could collectively work through decisions and create a unified message. Rather than multiple departments sending separate emails, a singular COVID leadership team could develop a concise website and message.

Facilitating Surveillance Testing

Unlike its Ivy League peers up north, Duke University remained predominantly open throughout the pandemic. Administrators credit their innovative approach to COVID-19 testing and tracing. Students received testing schedules and their results via a unique smartphone app developed by the institution. Duke implemented “pooled testing,” a method by which multiple samples are diagnosed with one test; this allows more students to get tested with fewer resources. The catch? This method only works when positive cases in the community remain low. Duke also implemented extensive testing protocols for its athletes, and NCAA fans will watch a relatively normal season. The school’s contact tracing team was quick to respond to positive test results, interviewing individuals and immediately notifying those at risk of exposure.

Enforcing Relevant Consequences

Even with the implementation of testing protocols and quarantine rules, campus officials must be prepared for students to push back against COVID policy. Whether it’s COVID fatigue or a general disregard for the virus’s severity, students are unlikely to follow all the rules all the time. Some universities have pursued more severe consequences, suspending hundreds of students at once for attending parties. Others have overloaded conduct officers by sending countless students through a tedious conduct investigation. Schools that are successfully staying open are getting more creative with consequences. Baylor University in Texas is piloting weekly COVID testing for all members of the campus community, with a particularly harsh consequence for Gen-Zers who skip their test: students who miss three testing appointments lose their Wi-Fi access. But there are incentives as well, including raffle prizes and gift certificates for students who get tested.

Offering Teletherapy Options

Mental health providers have witnessed a rise in young adults struggling with anxiety and depression. Colleges, like Loyola University in Illinois and City University of New York (CUNY), are expanding counseling services by hiring more providers and purchasing technology to better facilitate teletherapy. University officials recognize that mental health creates significant barriers to academic success, and many students cannot afford private services. Investment in student outreach and counseling is a crucial step for campuses to endure and recover from the pandemic.

On January 20th, his first day in office, President Biden suspended student loan payments and interest through September 30. For anyone with a federal student loan, this means you don’t need to make payments until October 2021, no interest will accrue to your outstanding balance, and if you are in default then your loan will not be collected during that time. While that is obviously great news and gives you breathing room by deferring payments, it’s important to remember that this merely pauses payments for a few months; the debt will still be there and you will have to resume payments Oct 1 (unless an extension is passed).

Save your Payments

While your payments are paused, if you have income then it’s a good idea to save the money you would have made for your student loan payments so you can use this time to build a financial cushion. That way when October rolls around, you will have some savings to fall back on and you will be ready for your student loan payments to resume. You can also still continue to make manual payments on your loan if you wish, but auto debits have been suspended until October 1.

Biden also wants to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt per student, but this would require an act of Congress and other hurdles so don’t count on this relief yet. You should still plan on including student loan payments in your budget.

Lower your Payments

During this time, you should plan on keeping your future payments as low as possible for when they do resume. The best way to keep your payments low is to enroll in an income based repayment plan. These payments are based on your adjusted gross income, so the payments are limited as a percentage of your income. The less you make, the lower your monthly payment will be. It’s a good way to manage your payments over a long period of time, with payments as low as $0 and loan forgiveness possible after 20 years of payments.

You can also defer your payments if you become unemployed or suffer certain medical issues that prevent you from generating income. Check with your student loan servicer for details. Don’t defer payments without getting written confirmation from your loan servicer first, as student loan debt cannot be wiped away in bankruptcy so if you miss payments it will affect your credit report.

To see your options, the Department of Education has a useful simulator that allows you to see your options and how it affects your overall financial plan.

Be Ready

Once you know your options, it’s a good idea to plan in advance since when October rolls around and millions of students are contacting their servicers at the same time it could be difficult to get things done in a timely manner. Contact your loan servicer and get all of your information ready so you are ahead of the pack.

With college back in session during COVID-19, maybe things aren’t quite what you expected. Are you locked down in your dorm room staring at a screen instead of going to classes? Locked in your dorm room at night instead of going out with your friends? Wearing a mask all day, and worried if you have to cough or sneeze in public? Yes the 2020 fall term is unlike any other in recent history, and might have you questioning even staying in school this semester. So you might ask yourself, can I get a refund for my tuition and other expenses?



Tuition and Room and Board Policies

When it comes to tuition refunds, typically the earlier you withdraw the more money you get back. The refunds are offered on a sliding scale, so the longer you stay enrolled the less you will get back. If the campus stays open you probably won’t get anything back for your room and board so consider that as well. If there is an outbreak at your campus and your school goes remote, you won’t get a break on your tuition or room and board either. If your campus totally shuts down and students are sent home, then you can probably get a refund of your room and board. Colleges and Universities are in a financial bind this year as well, and they depend on tuition to stay open. So while they are unlikely to offer refunds, it can’t hurt to ask for a discount if you do go remote only.

What can you do?

You should contact your school to find out what is their shutdown contingency plan. If your state or county has strict guidelines, the college has to follow these so the chance are higher that they will have to close. On the other hand, some states have more lenient policies so a lot of it depends on where you go to school.

Once you know your school’s closing criteria, depending if it is a switch to remote only / lockdown or a complete campus closure with students sent home your backup plans should take that into account. If you go to remote only, you can ask the school about a refund or discount tuition for remote only. If there is a closure, besides the tuition break you should ask for a refund for your room and board, and have a backup housing plan.

The Higher Ed Model is questioned

No matter what, the COVID 19 pandemic is forcing a rethinking of the higher education model. Students feel let down, with high tuition bills, remote classes, and trapped in their dorms. The higher ed model in the US and the UK is unsustainable and it remains to be seen how higher ed will look after going through the pandemic crisis.

The COVID 19 pandemic has upended all aspects of our lives, and if you are a college student returning to school then textbooks are no exception. With many campus bookstores closed, your offline options are more limited than in the past but luckily your online options are better than ever so here goes:

Get your book ISBNs from your professor or syllabus

This age old advice has never been more true or relevant than now. By getting your book info for your class ahead of time, you not only save money but also can avoid the headaches of last minute shopping and potentially having your book be sold out or overpriced. Every book has a unique 10 or 13 digit identifier called an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) that is unique to that book and that edition. So the 11th edition of a book will have a different ISBN than the 10th edition. It’s important to get the ISBNs of your books so you get the exact book and edition that you will need for that class. With ISBN in hand you can easily comparison shop for your book and find the lowest price from the dozens of stores that CampusBooks.com searches in any condition including new, used, rental, eBook and even cheaper international editions. With the ISBN you are guaranteed that the book you buy online is the same you would buy in the bookstore; at the same time you are more prepared to identify a counterfeit textbook and return it if you realize it early enough.

Buy Early, Sell Late

We always recommend buying early and selling late to take advantage of the cyclical and predictable textbook market. This is even more important during the Pandemic since there is tight inventory at many warehouses due to surging online demand, and post office deliveries are being delayed for political reasons. It’s simple Econ 101 Supply and Demand: prices are high when demand is high during peak back to school rush, and prices are lower during the off season months. At the same time, buyback prices are lower during the end of the semester when everyone is selling and supply is high. So the best way for you to minimize your out of pocket textbook costs is to buy early and sell late. The sooner you can get your ISBNs the earlier you can buy your books and get a lower price; if you can buy your books in July or earlier you are ahead of the game; the same goes for spring semester, if you can buy in December that’s a great time to buy. Then if you can hang on to your books and sell them in August and January, you’ll get more money when you sell. In some cases it’s even possible to break even on your book, or even sell for a small profit!

Cheaper Options: Access Codes, Loose Leaf, and Libraries

Textbook access codes are one time codes used to access supplemental material, and are used by publishers to get you to buy new textbooks. Since they are only valid for one time use, typically you won’t get the code with a used or rental book. Check with your professor to confirm if they will actually be using the supplemental material that the access code provides, if not then you can save money by getting the used book or renting.

Loose-leaf books are alternative versions of textbooks that usually come in a binder and are another good alternative to saving money. The CampusBooks search engine gives you the ability to sort your results by loose leaf so you can see if that format is available for you; again check with your professor on this as well.

Most libraries are still operating, although you might need to call them and schedule a pick up of your book. You also don’t need to worry much about contracting COVID 19 from library books, or any used books in general. The virus quickly dies when exposed to the elements and libraries and bookstores don’t turn over inventory that quickly so there is little chance of getting sick from a used book that hasn’t been touched by someone else in weeks or months. Library books can’t be highlighted or annotated, but they are free and if you need to highlight then you can make a copy of the page you need to highlight and use that. CampusBooks has partnered with local libraries to feature library results in our pricing comparisons; after you compare prices on your book use the filter on the left to punch in your zip code and see if your local libraries have inventory.

Buy Vs Rent

Renting may seem cheaper at first, but oftentimes buying used can actually be the cheaper option. Many books keep a high resale value, so the out of pocket cost can actually be cheaper for in demand books (if you take good care of your book). The CampusBooks Buy Vs Rent super bot helps you compare the total cost of ownership of your book so you can see what makes sense for you. After you compare prices on a book, check the Buy vs Rent tool on the left column to see our recommendation.

Conclusion

Ask your professor for your book ISBNs, see if access code material will be used, are there loose leaf formats available, buy early, sell late, and use CampusBooks’s precision shopping engine to help find you the best options for both buying and selling textbooks.

It is the ultimate cliche this year, but we really live in unprecedented times and there has never been a college semester like fall 2020. The news really comes fast and furious these days, so in an effort to bring you up to date on some of the noteworthy headlines we compiled a list of articles and subjects that really stand out.

Infections on campus before classes start

Classes have barely begun and already there are some campus outbreaks. While this might seem worrisome, the vast majority of infected college students are ok. The risk is spreading the disease to others, especially faculty, staff, parents, and grandparents.

There are actions you can take to minimize your risk of getting infected or spreading infection. Of course you already know to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and practice social distancing. Of course that’s easier said than done on a college campus, if you can avoid crowded indoor areas like house parties, bars, and restaurants, that will go a long way to preventing the spread of COVID 19.

Colleges are doing what they can to minimize infections risks and with some basic common sense you can too.

Tuition Discounts and Corona Fees

One positive aspect of the pandemic is you might be able to get a tuition discount. These colleges are offering tuition discounts. The flip side is some schools are actually adding coronavirus fees to their tuition bills. Be sure to ask your school if they offer discounts for remote learning, and if they are adding extra fees for the pandemic. It can’t hurt to ask for a tuition discount, or to waive any coronavirus fees.

Remote vs in person

There has been a lot of controversy regarding on campus and distance learning. Depending on what year you are and what your major is, as well as your personal health situation and your proximity to high risk individuals, sometimes distance learning might make sense. Other times on campus learning in an outdoor socially distanced environment might make sense. Some students are even living in hotel rooms to maintain social distance outside of a crowded dorm setting while having the option of attending on campus class when available, and a quiet space for distance learning.

Collect Unemployment

Did you know you might be eligible to collect unemployment? Yes some students are collecting unemployment while attending school. You might be eligible, and if you are it’s a great supplemental income source for you while you focus on your studies.

College Football is Out

It’s a sign of the enduring pandemic that college football is mostly out, like any other team spectator sport. Hopefully this serves as an inspiration for us all to wear our masks and be smart so that we can help defeat the dreaded COVID 19. This will pass and one day and when we eventually do get back to normal it will make us appreciate things all the more.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is devastating lives, livelihoods, and personal, business, and government finances around the world. Unfortunately the American higher education market hasn’t escaped this economic destruction either. College and Universities are facing a perfect storm of reduced enrollments, reduced endowments, and increased expenses all at the same time.

No longer Recession Proof

Higher education typically has been considered a “recession proof “ industry, with students going to school regardless of economic conditions and in fact enrolling in higher numbers during recessions in order to ride out bad job markets and improve their skills. During the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, American colleges and universities responded with quarantines and masks much like today. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern history forcing colleges and universities to suspend classes while faculty and students fear catching the virus on campus. This in turn is leading to lower tuition and dormitory revenues, and increased costs due to more stringent cleaning, more personal protective equipment for faculty, staff, and students, increased healthcare screening and staff, and lower capacity due to social distancing.

Reduced Funding

In addition to lower revenues, public colleges also are facing the potential of reduced state funding due to decreasing state tax revenues. Loss of lucrative international students due to travel restrictions and a hostile domestic political environment further undermines the school’s finances. This would force schools to increase tuition and student debt would soon follow. (So now might be a good time to question a liberal arts degree and possibly pursue a more marketable / lucrative degree). Private colleges, even those with decent endowments, are also facing financing pressures due to declining enrollment and there is the potential that some colleges might close.

Layoffs and Cost Cutting

Schools are also responding by laying off faculty and staff, including the University of Akron, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Ohio University. They are also putting construction projects on hold, and freezing hire and raises. These are drastic measures and if the fall semester suffers from 15% or more enrollment drops as experts predict, then many schools will not survive in their current form and might end up closing or becoming a satellite campus.

America will get through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the future of American Higher Education will look very different than it does today.