Concerned about inclusive access textbooks and other course materials at your school? You should be. Inclusive access platforms have come under fire because they force students to pay to do homework and take quizzes, eliminate student choice and ultimately cost an average of 103% more than alternatives like used textbooks, ebooks, rentals and access codes.
U.S. Department of Education regulations state students have the right to opt out of inclusive access, but those regulations don't do enough to protect students.
Colleges and universities can still require students to pay for inclusive access if the content or technology isn't available anywhere else. Homework, quizzes and exams likely fall under that category, so if you don't pony up for inclusive access you risk failing your classes.
In short, you have the right to opt out but not the right to demand alternative assessments. What's a budget-strapped college kid to do?
Though many colleges offer a way to opt out (which typically means sending an email), your best bet is to start by asking your professors if you can use an alternative, free format to complete your assignments and quizzes.
A little diplomacy goes a long way: remember, your professors are the ones grading your work, so they can have a major influence on your future. You're also asking them to take on extra work, since they'll need to prepare alternative assignments and grade them manually.
Here's a script you can use in person or via email:
Dear [PROFESSOR'S NAME],
I received my syllabus today and saw our required material includes [NAME OF INCLUSIVE ACCESS PLATFORM]. I'm anxious to dig in and begin learning, but I'm concerned that digital access is not a good fit for my learning style. Paying for it would also cause financial hardship as I am unable to afford the fees.
I'm really looking forward to taking your class, so I'm wondering if it would be possible for me to buy the material from my own sources and if there is a free alternative I can use to complete my homework and assessments without jeopardizing my grade. I realize I'm asking you to grade my work outside of [PLATFORM], but it would go a long way toward helping me learn and maintain my budget.
I'm grateful for your consideration.
Contact each professor individually. For each that agrees, you can then contact your school and opt out of inclusive access for those courses.
If you can't convince professors to offer alternative materials, you can consider dropping the class and seeking similar courses taught by professors who are willing to work with you. It's the best way to avoid the pitfalls of inclusive access, reclaim student choice and save money on textbooks.