Older students returning to school is not a new phenomenon.
The movement has been increasing for years and includes many graduates, age 70 plus, and those of retirement age. Many older students head back to school to obtain an advanced degree for self-improvement, to make career changes, or to update themselves in their current field.
The price of college textbooks are 812% higher than they were in the 1970s, which means they have increased more rapidly than tuition, housing costs, and health care. According to CollegeBoard.org, most students will spend over $1,100 yearly on textbooks and will spend more if they attend for-profit colleges.
Publishers receive more than 75% of the proceeds of a textbook with one-fifth of the cost going to bookstore costs. Publishing costs include payment to the writer, marketing expenses, and basic expenditures dealing with paper, printing, and employees. Publishers will often include supplemental materials that increase textbook prices.
Publishing companies also issue new editions of existing textbooks which students are required to purchase, even when the revisions are minimal. Research surveys have found that a majority of students have admitted not purchasing at least one required textbook during their college years because of an exorbitant price tag. The high cost of college textbooks is becoming unsustainable with the increasing number of economical alternatives available to students.
Libraries of eTextbooks are now instantly available to college instructors, anytime and anywhere, eliminating the entire process of ordering, waiting for delivery, and reviewing various textbooks from publishers. Publishers save money as well because they do not have to spend millions of dollars for sample textbooks to be sent to instructors for review.
Digital rental services are also available to college students; eTextbooks and other online course materials can be rented saving student up to 60% of the cost of buying printed textbooks.
Ninety percent of core higher education titles are now available through eTextbooks and new titles are continually being added. Students and instructors benefit from the new computerized access, including textbooks that are:
- Accessible in diverse locations
- Accessible on multiple devices
- Easily highlighted, searched, and printed
- Available with assistive technologies
Older students can also take advantage of online eResources which delivers digital content and opportunity to complete homework and quizzes in the comfort of their own home. Students are also able to view required simulations and videos. Large, fully interactive collections of eResources are instantly available online providing convenience and affordability for students of all ages.
Studies indicate that student performance is enhanced with eTextbooks when effective strategies are used. Formats usually include highlighting, bookmarking, and annotating. One-touch dictionaries are available to students and instructors are able to assign chapter assignments to students which they can access with little cost.
A 2010 eTextbook pilot project found that: 1) Over 1/3 of the students were satisfied; 2) Over 1/2 of the students found eTextbooks easy to use; 3) Older students had more positive experiences; 4) Most students preferred eTextbook’s cost, light weight, accessibility and search features.
Older students have many advantages over younger students, beginning with a running start on general and cultural knowledge, and a sense of perspective. A college education can make a more fulfilling career possible for the older student who is more informed and directed.
With the availability of eTextbooks and eResources, college opportunities are less costly and more convenient for the older student’s lifestyle.