UNK Today | August 2014 - page 57

By JOSH MOODY
Hub Staff Writer
KEARNEY — Textbook
rentals at the University of
Nebraska at Kearney are
surging — and saving students
money in the
process.
“The net gain
to students is less
upfront costs,”
Director of Busi-
ness Services Jon
Watts said.
“The majority
of students rent,”
Watts said. “In
terms of students
that choose to
rent, we’re one of the highest
(stores).”
According to figures pro-
vided by Watts, of the 196
NEEBO book
stores nation-
wide, both of
the book stores
at UNK have
cracked the top
10 in rentals.
The College
Store landed
in the sixth
slot, and The
Antelope Book
Store ranked
as the eighth-
most-used
rental store.
Last spring, students saved
$269,241 at The College Store
and $194,864 at Antelope
Book Store by renting instead
of buying.
Watts said that as many as
70 percent of students at UNK
now rent textbooks instead of
buying them. Watts explained
that before the option to rent
was offered — beginning in
2011 — stu-
dents would
purchase books
and attempt to
sell them back
at the end of
the semester.
Oftentimes that
process left stu-
dents frustrated
at the low rate of
return.
Another issue
was that new textbook editions
or curriculum changes often
meant that students could not
sell the book that they had
purchased at the
beginning of the
semester.
“You always
have that risk,”
Watts said. “At
the end of the
semester, they
would go in
and try to sell
those books.
Occasionally,
you would get
enough back
that it’s prob-
ably about the
same price as renting.”
While the option to rent at
both The College Store and
The Antelope Book Store
has allowed students to save
money on college textbooks, it
also has helped UNK to fend
off competition from online
vendors such as Amazon and
chegg.com.
“We’re close to 76 percent
market share, which is almost
unheard of. Think of any
business that captures that
much of the market when you
consider all of these online
competitors,” Watts said. “It’s
been huge for us in terms of
capturing market share of stu-
dents and being able to drive
down some of that up-front
cost of textbooks.”
The College Store and
Antelope Book Store have
also used another approach to
stave off online competition:
price-matching.
“I think rental has helped,
but the price match has been
big as well,” Watts said. “As
long as it’s dated and legiti-
mate, they’ll price match and
get you the book that day.”
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By AMANDA BRANDT
Hub Staff Writer
KEARNEY — Regardless
of their native language, many
international students say
“hello” to the University of
Nebraska at Kearney to learn
English.
Students from around the
world come to study at UNK’s
English Language Institute,
an intensive language immer-
sion program. The ELI aims
to improve students’ English
competency and help them
gain admission into American
universities or further their
careers.
The goal of the program is
straightforward, Jayne Heimer,
a grammar and reading teacher
in the program, said.
“We try to give the students
improved English ability so
that they will be prepared to go
into UNK classes full time,”
she said.
This means passing Test-
ing of English as a Foreign
Language. A TOEFL score is
one of the tests considered by
American institutions when
accepting international stu-
dents.
Other students in the pro-
gram want to improve their
English for the purpose of job
promotion, Heimer said. This
includes both naturalized U.S.
citizens and people from other
countries.
When the ELI began in 1997,
it was originally staffed by
three people, including Lisa
Terry, a teacher with the pro-
gram. Today, Terry said that 12
teachers work with about 100
students in the fall and spring
semesters, and about 60 in the
summer. The program has had
students from dozens of coun-
tries but has seen large numbers
of Chinese, Japanese, Korean,
Saudi Arabian, Colombian and
Brazilian participants.
Terry said international
students come to Kearney to
improve their English for a
number of
reasons,
including
a safe,
welcoming
commu-
nity and
affordable
tuition. But,
she said,
the way
Nebraskans
speak is one
of the most attractive aspects of
the program.
“The English language is
so very pure in the Midwest,
without an accent, generally
speaking,” Terry said. “(Stu-
dents) know they are getting a
really true, clear pronunciation
of English.”
A placement test determines
the level of classes students
take. They take six courses that
are taught entirely in English,
including conversation, gram-
mar, lis-
tening and
speaking,
reading and
vocabu-
lary. At the
end of the
semester,
the paper
TOEFL test
is adminis-
tered, and
students
either pass or stay in the ELI
program for another semester.
Classes are kept small,
between 10 and 25 people. This
ensures that students receive
individual attention from
instructors, Terry said.
While UNK does partner
with overseas recruiters,
Heimer said that word of
mouth is how ELI receives
many of its students. In many
cases, if a student has a good
experience at UNK they will
tell their siblings and friends to
enroll in the program.
Programs similar to the ELI
are found at universities around
the country. But what makes
UNK’s stand out, Heimer said,
is the attention and relationships
developed between student and
instructor. She gave examples of
teachers helping students apply
for driver’s licenses and arrang-
ing doctor visits.
“They don’t just teach their
subject matter, they also teach
cultural adaptation,” Heimer
said. “That is something special
to our program, teaching life
skills of living in another
culture.”
Students in the program also
must participate in conver-
sation groups. ELI students
are paired with an American
UNK student, and they meet
at least six times per semester
to develop a friendship and to
help the international student
with conversation and social
interaction skills.
They also attend the English
conversation table, a weekly
one-hour program that Terry
coordinates. The program is
open to all campus residents
and community members and
usually draws crowds of about
150, Terry said.
Terry said that she loves her
job and finds it rewarding to
see the lasting effect the ELI
program has on students.
“I get emails from students
who have gone back to their
countries, and they say ‘My
years in Kearney were some of
the best years of my life,’” she
said.
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The Rise of Rentals
UNK has seen a spike in the number of textbook rentals by students
“The English language
is so
very pure in the Midwest,
without an accent, generally
speaking. (Students) know
they are getting a really true,
clear pronunciation of English.”
Lisa Terry
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Buy Kearney Hub photo reprints through
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Last spring,
students
saved $269,241 at
The College Store
and $194,864 at
Antelope Book Store
by renting instead of
buying.
JON WATTS,
UNK’s
director of
business
services and
accounts
payable, said
that textbook
rentals at
UNK are
saving big
money for
college stu-
dents.
“I think rental
has
helped, but the price
match has been big
as well. As long as it’s
dated and legitimate,
they’ll price match
and get you the book
that day.”
Jon Watts
Hub File Photo
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