Paper catalogs may be eliminated

Katie Hill

Katie HillReporter

The Academic Affairs office has been discussing future possibilities to offer SDSU undergraduate catalogs exclusively online.

“There are a variety of possible strategies,” said Mary Kay Helling, associate provost and interim dean of the graduate college. “One option is to present a PDF format which would allow students to print the entire catalog out, or simply parts relevant to them. Another approach is to have some printed and available at the bookstore for purchase.”

Although there are no set deadlines for moving the catalogs solely online, it is in the works. The decision to move them online stems from the high cost of printing.

“Approximately $25,000 is spent on the undergraduate catalog printing process,” said Helling.

The cost of printing undergraduate not only stems from printing, but includes set up costs as well. Because of this, graduate catalogs are no longer being printed and are offered exclusively online, starting this year.

Part of the $7000 savings from choosing not to print graduate catalogs “shifted to travel awards for graduate students,” Helling said.

“It is challenging to predict how many we need to print,” Helling said. “We order a lot now, and the extras are very wasteful. We don’t want the waste, but we are cognitive of the costs.”

Another reason to defer printing is the constant need to update the catalog.

“The problem with the catalogs we have produced in the past is that they become outdated so fast,” Provost Laurie Nichols said. “By the time the catalogs actually reach the students, things have changed.”

Trying to find the right balance between cost, waste, and need is the biggest challenge.

“Currently, the undergraduate catalog is available in full capacity online and in print,” said Katy Heiberger, curriculum and catalog specialist. “The catalogs have been available online since 2007, and we have reduced the number of printed catalogs [in subsequent years]. The demand has gone down.”

Some students still like to have a copy of the printed catalog for reference purposes.

“I am a big fan of having a paper copy of important information. I realize that it will be saving the college money by doing this, but this is also why we pay tuition,” said Megan Bueltel, sophomore agricultural business major. “I know when I was debating between majors, having a hard copy of the information and requirements was a very nice thing to have.”

Amanda McCulley, junior human development and family studies major, said “it would be less user friendly if they were only offered online.”

Although the exclusivity of online undergraduate catalogs could potentially inconvenience students, the current version of the online catalog provides students with an array of additional resources.

“The portfolio feature is located at the very bottom of the left navigation bar. Users can create “portfolios’ that save favorite programs and courses,” Heiberger said.

“Add to your portfolio,” help, and print options are available on all pages of the online version of the catalog.

“When a user creates their account, they have an option to request an Admissions Counselor contact them,” Heiberger said.

Students can find all these resources and previously published catalogs archived at

#1.1918785:3012645737.png:Book-GALLAGHER.png:Program catalogs may potentially go out of print and become completely digital, a result of cost-effective measures.:Collegian Photo by Mackenzie Clayton