Trends show students spend more money on Internet

Jana Mcbride

The Internet has become a tool of convenience for many college students who turn to the Web to purchase everything from CDs, concert tickets and clothing to textbooks, school supplies and dorm furniture. All it takes is a few clicks of a mouse and a credit card number to fill an online shopping cart full of goods. Student Monitor and Jupiter Communications, a computer company in Boston, estimates that 4.5 million college students will spend $1.3 billion online this year, more than doubling last year’s total. Many ISU students are helping to set the trend. Abby Dyar, senior in finance, orders CDs and clothing online from sites such as CDNow and Abercrombie and Fitch. “You can find good deals,” she said. Dyar said she has also purchased items on Ebay, an online auction site, but it “takes a bit longer” to find things, and you must register for a user name before buying or selling. Dyar said she isn’t concerned about submitting her credit card number to a Web site. “Usually they’ll tell you whether or not there’s security protection,” she said. Bryon Grabenbauer, senior in chemical engineering, said he shops online once or twice a month to buy concert and sporting event tickets, DVDs and other miscellaneous items on and “I just like it because I can sit in my room and shop,” he said. However, Grabenbauer said it does have drawbacks. “Sometimes Web sites get congested,” he said, “and sometimes there are hidden costs in the fine print to watch out for.” Many online companies have directed aggressive marketing campaigns toward college campuses, which is “not in the best interest” of students, said Oren Milgram, director of student services at “Students can be overwhelmed with all the information that’s out there,” he said. At, students can purchase textbooks, flowers, magazines and clothing. “Students want to save time. They want to save money, and convenience plays a role,” Milgram said. Paul Dosch, buyer and supervisor for University Book Store at Iowa State, said each semester more students have used the store’s online textbook purchasing service, which went online last fall. “I know there’s some competition [from other online sites], but frankly, it hasn’t hurt our business in any way,” Dosch said. “There’s just some downfalls to ordering books from those sites.” Some of those downfalls include problems making returns, Dosch said. Mike Shupp, general merchandise manager for the University Book Store, said while most purchases are made from off-campus students or Cyclone fans, some students shop online for convenience and for ordering gifts to be shipped. The University Book Store has separate sites for textbooks and merchandise, which can both be accessed at its Web site. “Hopefully, down the road when things improve, we’ll have more and more products online,” Shupp said. Still some students would rather carry items out of the store than have them delivered to their doors. Melanie Iler, sophomore in elementary education, has yet to purchase anything online. “I’d rather see what I’m buying,” she said. “I’m too scared to give my credit card number out over the Internet – too many people could get it.”