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Guide to Finding College Course Books by Course Number

written by: Regina Woodard•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 3/7/2011

Welcome to your freshman year of college! You've taken the entrance tests, paid your fees, and now you're ready to start. But how will you ever find college course books?Being prepared in this first year goes a long way. Here, learn how to find college books by course number.

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    I'm Here, Now What?

    Welcome to your first year of college! Whether you're a newly minted high school graduate or coming to college late in life, that first year is a new experience for everyone. New people, new learning experiences, new activities, there is so much to learn your freshman year, you may not know where to start. First things first - you've passed your entrance exams, paid your fees, and signed up for your classes. And you want to be the best student ever, so you plan on getting your books as soon as the class schedule is in your hand.

    But wait - how will you find your books?Guide to Find College Course Books by Course Number 

    In the previous years of schooling, you went to class, and your teacher handed out books that first day or first week, but things don't work that way in college (usually). You're going to have to find your books on your own. Luckily, your course number goes a long way in finding those required materials for you.

    Here, learn how to find college books by course number, where your books could be, why you need to not just pick up the first book you find, and why being the first isn't always the best way to go.

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    How to Find College Course Books

    Finding your required reading for your courses is not only simple, but there are several ways in which you find them

    Course Number

    To find college books by course number, you will first need your class schedule. For both students going to local universities and college or online schools, you will be assigned a student number and password. This allows you to enter in to a student portal, where you can register for classes, see your grades, and of course, your class schedule.

    You class schedule will have the title of the class as well as it's course number, such as ENG101 English 101 - Composition for First Year Students. The ENG101 is the course number. Many classes also have section numbers, so you'll want to be sure you know this too, as different sections may be taught by different professors.

    In the Bookstore

    For those students going to brick and mortars (that is, on campus), the best place of finding your books is at the college bookstore. Once you have your class schedule (and you should take it with you when book hunting), you can head down and start getting books. Depending on the size of the bookstore, you will find your course books listed in listed in alphabetical order by course, then number. For instance, ENG220 will be before MUS120. Larger bookstores will have multiple floors, while smaller bookstores may not offer every course.

    If you get lost, don't be afraid to ask the very helpful (hopefully) salesfolk there; the first weeks of the new semester will have many of the store's personnel around to help new and lost students find what they need.

    Online students get it a little easier. Most of their material will either be online or shipped to them. In the event of not having online books, students may be able to view their class schedule and then follow the links to that course's online syllabus. The syllabus will usually have the book required, with a link in the case of a purchase or home delivery.

    When You Can't Find Your Books

    Sometimes, the need for books outweighs the supply. So what do you do when you can't find your books at the bookstore? First, try to see if new shipments will come in. Most likely the instructor has been notified and has put in for a new order. If not, try seeing if you can find it online or try an off-campus or non-school affliated bookstore. The first and second options are best, as sometimes the non-afflilated bookstores won't have what you're looking for.

    On the next page, learn why you shouldn't pick up the first book and why being first at the bookstore doesn't always work.

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    In the first page, we looked at finding books by the course number and where to find them. Here, we look at making sure you get the right edition of your book and why being the first at the bookstore on the first day of class may not be the smart thing after all.
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    Book Editions

    A very important part of finding college books by course number is that of the edition. For some instructors, it doesn't matter which edition a student picks up as long as it's current, while other instructors insist on the student picking up the latest edition. There is of course some debate about that, from both teachers and students.

    In most cases, new editions of textbooks result when the authors update their previous book, either eliminating passages or adding passages. Sometimes they may include a whole new chapter or cut one or several chapters out, based on the changes in their field. This is primarily the main reason why you should pay attention to the edition of that science book that you're about to pick up.

    Why is it such a debate? While the majority the changes are cause of the new edition, in some cases, only a few words are changed or perhaps a new cover is added; when these are the only changes that are occurring, when the rest of the book remains unchanged, that is cause for anger, especially if your book is going to cost you $200 (yes, you did read that right).

    In this type of case, you should always ask the instructor. They are the first people to know about any changes in the new editions and it usually is their decision on which textbooks to use. In the case where the book is now longer available at the store, ask the professor if you are able to use the previous edition. Again, sometimes there is very little difference between the two, but it is best to ask, in order to avoid missing work. If possible, ask a classmate to let you borrow or make copies of chapters that you might be missing.

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    First in Line

    Now that you know how to find college books by course number, how to pick the right edition, you might think that you plan on being first in line at the bookstore, right?

    Whoa there, eager mcbeaver. You might think that heading to the bookstore the very first day of class is a great idea and you would Guide to Find College Course Books by Course Number probably be right if the other thirty-five thousand freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors weren't thinking the same thing. Question - have you ever been to a college bookstore on the first day of classes? Your answer to this should be no (unless you have older siblings or friends that you went with).

    Then how about this - have you ever been to the opening night of brand new movie? Or when a new book in a series comes out? Or the new Apple product? If you've said yes to any of these, take that image and multiple it by thirty-five thousand.

    That is a college bookstore on the first day of class.

    Your idea of being first in line is also the idea of those other eager freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. So how will you get your books if everyone has the same idea? Well, the answer to that can be three fold - earlier, online, or later.

    Getting your books earlier means hitting the bookstore a few days or even a week before the first day of classes. Head to the store right around opening (most open at 6am). If you're groaning about the time, then so is everyone else, so the advantage is yours if you're up early. One huge advantage of this strategy is that you'll be able to preview the materials before the course starts and you'll be better prepared for any introductory material the professor presents you with on the first day of class.

    As technology grows, many of the books on your list might be for sale online, either through the school itself, the publisher, Amazon, or even eBay. If you're able to get your schedule and that of your books weeks or months before the first day, hit online to see if you can score some or even of your books.

    Getting your books later is a well known trick of those that been in school longer. They were freshman once and they remember, that's why they wait until the second day, week, or even second month of the second year. This works because you aren't hassling through crowds and you're not waiting in long lines. Don't wait too long though - you'll need to be to do assignments and projects before their due date.

    References

    Arizona Bookstore - University of Arizona

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    Personal experience @ author

    Images @ thephotoholic, Morgue File