New this semester, UNO’s bookstore has adopted the Follett Access program, which allows students to pick up books and other course materials before their classes begin. The program, which will continue for the upcoming summer and fall semesters, is intended to help all UNO students succeed by simplifying the often complicated process of obtaining class materials.
“Follett Access is a powerful program,” says Kathleen Davis, store manager at the UNO bookstore, which is run by Follett. “It enables colleges and universities to deliver all course materials, [including] textbooks, supplies, digital access codes, ebooks, as part of tuition and fees.”
By providing these materials, the bookstore not only aims to simplify students’ pre-class planning, but also to even the playing field in terms of access. In this way, students are more likely to succeed once classes begin.
“On Access students have what they need for the first day of class stress-free, effortlessly, regardless of economic background or social status,” says Davis, “because everything goes on to the fee bill for you. You don’t have to worry about coming into the store and paying out of pocket, or waiting for your financial aid refund to hit.”
With less energy going towards planning the best and most financially viable time to purchase books, Follett believes that Access will help students to focus their energy on school work. This will hopefully motivate them to stay in class.
“UNO wanted to try out this program because it has been proven that it gave a competitive advantage for the students,” says Davis.”Because when they have everything on the first day of class, it increases retention and graduation rates. On this program, it’s been shown in other schools that, because students have everything that they need on their first day, there’s fewer students who drop out, there’s higher success rates for students.”
Through this program, the bookstore offers physical materials such as textbooks mostly as rentals, but students would be able to purchase the books for an extra fee. If course professors, however, stipulate that it would be necessary for students to purchase a book, then it would be provided to them as part of the initial fee they paid for the program. According to Davis, this $25 per class hour fee each semester has been financially beneficial to most students.
“A few months ago, when the campus was getting this approved, the student government was presented the whole program with actual real schedules of students, and it was beneficial to the students with that $25 per credit hour fee,” Davis says. “It was beneficial for their schedules and the materials that they needed.”
Some students, however, do not see the financial benefits of this program, especially with the abundance of third party textbook sellers, such as Amazon, available online. Although Davis believes this program can help all students, both undergraduate and graduate, there is an option to opt out of the program and its fees for those who feel that it would not be in their best interest. However, the deadline to do so passed on Jan 23. For some students, their inclusion in the program came as a surprise, and their decision to opt out was an easy one.
“The only reason I found out about the [Follett Access] system was because I got an email from the bookstore thanking me for my order of somewhere around 4-6 textbooks and telling me when they’d be ready for pick up,” says graduate student Swiss. “I, in fact, had already looked at the prices at the bookstore vs. the prices on amazon or AbeBooks or Thrift Books, etc. and honestly I had decided not to use the bookstore after a brief glance on amazon alone. Signing people up for a service they have to pay for to buy books they could easily get elsewhere and for less without their consent and without knowledge that it is going to happen doesn’t feel right. Not in the least.”
For those students who have decided to utilize Follett Access though, materials should now be ready and available for pickup at the bookstore, which is open in the UC Mon-Thur 8-4:30, Fri 8-2, and Sat 10-2.
“At this point, all students need to do is come pick up their textbooks,” says Davis. “They would have received emails already saying that their textbooks are ready for pickup, or if they have any digital material, they can access their ebooks right now. They can also start using their access codes. So students just need to start using their material, and just study.”
Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash