I started teaching at the University of North Carolina Wilmington right after finishing my Master’s degree at Indiana University in 2012. While I wasn’t expecting to get back into academia so quick, it was enlightening to get the teacher’s perspective, especially in a smaller school environment.
I went to two universities with very large schools of music. It’s difficult not only to see everything that happens within these schools, but even more difficult to interact with everyone on a consistent basis. One nice benefit of being at a smaller school is that I interact with both students I teach and other students that are in the department.
In the last year and a half, I’ve seen the many differences between large established schools of music and smaller developing departments of music. For us teachers, we are trying to train our students for the professional world, but most of the larger universities are already at the same level as professionals. This relativity can be discouraging to students in a smaller school, and the biggest thing I have noticed so far in my teaching career is where professional ability lacks, potential replaces. It’s up to the student to see their own potential and develop it.
Below is some helpful advice that I have for students of music, especially at the undergraduate level. Some of these were the reasons why I was very successful in school, some were things I learned and realized as I progressed through school, and some I learned the hard way. If I knew then what I know now…
When is the best time to start ordering textbooks, considering shopping period and everything else? Any tips on how to cut costs? Thanks!
Unfortunately, by the end of every semester you will almost certainly feel like you spent too much money on books. That said, here are some tip$$$
Rent, never buy textbooks. You will never, ever read them again nor will you make your money back by selling them.
Get used textbooks because, as I said above, it’s not like you’re keeping them or anything.
The libraries do have a copy of all textbooks that you can rent for a day. This does not guarantee that a copy will be available when you need it, though.
DO NOT order textbooks until you are sure you are taking a class aka during shopping period. It may cause a hassle and long lines, but it’s better than having to deal with making a return.
Look online to see if you can get something cheaper online than from the Brown Bookstore (you probably can). Keep in mind, though, that the mail line during shopping period is actually ridiculous.
Also, see if you can torrent your textbooks before you get to Brown - torrenting on campus will get you kicked off the university internet, but using torrented files is…only illegal if you get caught. Honestly, the entire educational system is designed to create a second class of citizens who are unable to access their right to education as a result of a lack of capital, so like, is it really morally wrong? Assuming the class is larger than 30 people, the professor probably won’t care and even if it’s a small class, most profs will allow you to use online editions if you ask. The only time they won’t is if they actually wrote the textbooks - since that means they’re profiting off sales. Here’s a Tumblr post by Obsessionfull about getting textbooks online: CLICK HERE.
Choose carefully which non-textbooks you choose to buy because if you later decide that you want to sell them the Brown Bookstore will give you basically quarters for them.
A recently graduated senior has told me that she never bought textbooks because they were a waste of time and money. She graduated just fine. Take that at your own discretion.
Sorry, I know this sounds like it sucks mainly because it does. Welcome to the college struggle bus!