Okay, but do you really need a car on campus?
There’s no definite answer to this question.
I didn’t have a car my first year at college and I survived just fine. Then I brought my car with me my second year and there were times I only used it twice a month.
Basically, I’ve been on both sides of the question so I can definitely help you out with this decision.
If you bring a car
These are not cheap my friends.
At my school, a year long parking pass is $240. Which is actually cheap compared to some other schools. More popular schools parking passes can be upwards of $600. Which is why bringing a car to college is such a big decision.
Pay for gas
Depending on how much you plan to be driving this may not be too big of a deal. If you’re only going to be driving to the grocery and maybe the mall or bowling or something every once in awhile, this won’t be a big deal. Before I got a job off campus, I only had to get gas maybe once a month – if that.
But if you plan to drive home frequently or work off campus you’ll need to fill up at least every two weeks. Which can eat up a lot of money, especially if you get gas right near campus. (They know you need it so they hike up prices!)
Finding a Parking Spot
Whether this is just to park your car by your dorm or finding a spot near your class, parking is always a struggle no matter what college you go to.
My dorm is located by the outdoor sand volleyball pits and the intramurals soccer fields, so the parking lot by me can get real crowded real fast some nights. There were multiple times when I went to the store late or came home from work and had to park in a different dorm’s lot because mine was full. Irritation.
Go where you want when you want
The best thing about bringing a car with you to college is that you can go wherever you want whenever you want.
Want to hit up Kroger at 9 p.m. because you’re craving ice cream? Want to surprise your grandma with a visit? Want to meet up with friends from different colleges? Well, you can!
You don’t have to rely on bus schedules or other people to chauffer you around which is super freeing. This ultimately just makes the world feel bigger, too. I mean you can go literally anywhere with a car!
Drive to class if it’s storming or insanely cold
I never used to be the person that drove to class and I always tease people who do, but sometimes it’s nice.
It thunderstorms a lot in Kentucky and walking to class when it’s thunder and lightning is pretty dang frightening. So when I brought my car my sophomore year I was super thankful that I could hop in my car and get to the class without getting purely soaked through.
I’m also not too big a fan of cold weather either. I can appreciate a good snowfall, but I don’t like being freezing. Especially not for the 10 plus minutes it takes me to walk to class. It was nice to be able to drive to class in the mornings when it was below freezing. (Not saying I did this every day. Probably less than 10 times total.)
Work off campus easier
Working on campus is great, but not everyone can find a job at their college. And sometimes you can get better pay off campus than you can on campus.
Working off campus is certainly possible without a car, but you may end up getting to work an hour early because that’s the only time the bus is going by your work. And the bus may not be running by the time you get off work. Always something to consider.
If you don’t bring a car
Have to rely on other people or public transportation
This sounds awful, but honestly, I had no issue getting anywhere my freshman year when I didn’t have a car. I was always able to find a friend who also needed to go to the grocery when I needed. And my family was very willing to come pick me up for monthly family dinners.
You’re also about to get closer to people since you’re sharing a car with them, rather than driving around alone.
I used the bus six or seven times my freshmen year and I still struggle with navigating the bus schedules. I was once stuck downtown at night alone because I misread the bus schedule, but that’s another story.
You walk more
It’s no secret that you do a lot of walking on college campuses, but you’ll do even more if you don’t bring your car. You can’t drive to class, so you have to walk. You can’t drive to the store, so if you’re too scared of the bus or no one else wants to go, you can just walk. Totally done that before.
Don’t take random trips to Target
Not only did I save money on gas and a parking pass by not bringing my car my freshman year, but I saved money on random shopping trips. I never could just spur of the moment take a trip to the mall or Target when I didn’t have my car. But when I brought my car I would end up going to Target just because I didn’t want to go back to my dorm.
What do I recommend?
I strongly suggest going your first year without a car.
That way you really get acclimated to your campus and navigating it, as well as not being able to go home as easily on the weekends. There’s nothing wrong with visiting home every once in awhile, but making it a weekly thing may be going a little too far, especially if you live over an hour away from your college. And having a car with you is going to make you more likely to take the trip and not stay on campus and get involved.
If you are on the market for buying a new car for college or want more pros and cons about bringing a car to college, check out this article I found. It lists tons of great vechiles that are perfect for college students and how to budget for having a car in college.
Do you have a car on campus?