Staff Editorial: Judging a class by its books

We all know not to judge a book by its cover. But a federal mandate requires that students have the ability to judge a class by its books.

The Higher Education Opportunity Act, which went into effect in July, states that universities must provide students with a class’ textbook information and costs as students compile their schedules. Unfortunately, GW has failed to adhere to the HEOA, as the online schedule of classes does not have textbook information displayed for every class. The Department of Education is not actively enforcing this policy by reprimanding GW for failing to provide this information, but that does not mean that a book list for a class is no longer necessary.

At this time of class registration, students weighing whether to take a class or not should be able to factor in textbook costs, as adding the total for textbooks to the tuition for the class can be substantial. The University should remove its “To Be Determined” page from the “Books” link in the schedule of classes, and actually show what the University is legally required to show.

Ultimately, students should have the most information possible when choosing classes. Publicizing costs of textbooks, which are an integral component of a course, should be the first of many steps the University takes to increase transparency for students. In addition to books, the University could also encourage professors to post their syllabi online before students register for classes, so that students can be aware of coursework.

Providing students with the most information possible is not simply a federal rule. GW repairing its inconsistent enforcement of the HEOA textbook rule is an important change that needs to occur, because the student body needs to be aware of some of the vital statistics regarding its classes.

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