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Quick Tips for Graduate Student Life – Ask for Free Textbooks

Over the last few years, I’ve written several posts on surviving graduate school, including dealing with expectations, managing your finances, coping with failure, and some more general advice. During that process, I’ve also come up with some small, helpful tips that just don’t fit into a broader theme. It seems a shame to let those tips disappear, so, for the next week I’ll be posting Andrew’s Quick Tips for Surviving Graduate School

Tip #3: Ask for free textbooks

This one is so simple it’s often completely overlook. Textbooks are expensive. They get more specialized and more expensive as you advance. If you’re lucky, you have access to an awesome library that will stock whatever you need. Sometimes, you won’t be that lucky.

As a graduate student, you’re not just a student, you’re also an educator. So if you see a textbook you might need, but don’t have access to it, send the publisher a letter asking if they’ll provide a complementary copy. The worst that can happen is they say no, but, in my experience, less than 10% will refuse. Textbook publishers aren’t dumb. They understand the nature of the industry. Some portion of graduate students become professors. Those professors assign textbooks. Publishers want you to assign their textbooks.

As an added bonus, once you get on a publisher’s RADAR, they may ping you to receive advanced copies of new textbooks.

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