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OP/ED: If Online Homework is Required, Tuition Should Cover the Cost


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Written by: Communicator StaffMarch 26, 2014

I don’t mind having to use these websites such as MyMathLab so much, but what I do mind is that the codes to access these websites are not included in my tuition. They should be. Website codes should be included into tuition or at least provided with the textbook even if I buy the book used.

In the past I have worked three jobs while maintaining full-time status in school and still found myself unable to pay the sometimes upward of 50 dollar fee to enroll in these online courses for various Math, Science and even English courses. To buy a standalone access code from MyMathLab, Pearson’s charges $57.00 on their website. It’s a drain on my bank account that I honestly can barely afford given I pay for my rent, cell phone, car insurance, internet, utilities, and other living expenses.

I have grown resentful that the consensus seems to be to scoff and say that with reasonable management of my finances I shouldn’t be burdened for supplementary online curriculum because that should take precedence in my life. Yes, school is my first priority, but I also need to eat. I found myself in that predicament one semester when, unbeknownst to me until the first day, I would have to pay for a code to access a blackboard like site for an English class—I ate nothing but ramen three meals a day. Now, let me tell you, that is truly a disgusting diet.

Even if you buy the textbook used like so many broke college students need to do, the codes have expired and thus, you have to buy a code from the websites directly and the markup on those are absurd. If I can’t pass a class without these codes to do work online, then how am I supposed to do well if I can’t afford these codes? And furthermore, it’s rarely ever expounded on that I will need these codes prior to enrolling in the course. I find out, often the first day of class, that I will need to pay for it within a few days, and a pit grows in my stomach.

However, it is a changing world. What was once a phone call in the business world is a video chat, tablets are things with screens, not yellow paper, and technology is ruling over us. So maybe learning how to use these websites and integrating them into the course isn’t such a bad idea.

I do think that these websites can be beneficial, but I think that expecting a student to cover the cost of these codes and demand they do so for the security of their grade is not fair given the other numerous financial burdens students are handed when enrolling in college. Universities should work harder to ensure that students are able to cover the cost of these codes, even if that means providing them on a loan.

Opinion by: Logan Hursh