Should You Bring Your Car to College?

For many young adults, college is their first taste of freedom. But, as with all things, the freedom you have at college has its limits. Many college universities in the U.S. do not allow their freshmen to bring a car to campus. Wanna get out of town, see a show and explore the area? That’s too bad, unless you have the money for a bus or train ticket, you’re staying close to campus.

This of course changes when you hit your sophomore year. You won’t be living in a dorm with the roommate from hell and you have a car to take you wherever you want to go. But is bringing your car to campus really worth it? Here’s a list of the pros and cons of bringing a car to school.

Positives of Bringing a Car to School

You have the ability to do things on your time. Relying on public transportation means being forced to follow their time table. This means you can be stuck waiting at the bus stop anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. There’s no wait time when you bring your own car; you can leave and travel on your own time. If you’re planning on holding down a part-time job while going to school, having a car is especially helpful.

If you’re getting good grades, your car insurance premium will drop. You might face some resistance from your parents about bringing your car to campus, but by reminding them about the good grades you get, you can promise them that it’s a good plan if they want to get a discount on the best car insurance for their 4.0 student.

You can visit home whenever you want. There will be weekends when you want a home cooked meal by mom and absolutely need to snuggle with the family dog. Having a car on campus will give you the chance to go home whenever you want. Need to escape psycho roommates? You can—go home for the weekend.

Negatives of Bringing a Car to School

Your “friends” will be begging you for rides. Once people hear you have a car, they’ll be asking you for rides to school, the grocery store and house parties. And guess what? As the car owner, you will ALWAYS be designated the sober driver. You’ll suggest hailing an Uber, but they’ll argue why when you can shuttle them around for free.

Parking is limited and pricey. Campus lot parking is very expensive. For example, students pay $200 for a parking permit at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). Don’t want to buy a permit? It’ll cost you $30 a day. If you drove and parked on campus five days a week at that price you’d pay $150 a week. This price is similar at other colleges across the United States.

Vehicle maintenance cuts into student finances. The cost of gas, oil changes and routine maintenance check-ups add up quickly. If you’re shuttling friends around every weekend and they’re not helping to pay for the gas and you don’t have some sort of stipend or financial help, you will need to get a part-time job to cover the costs, taking away from study sessions and time to do homework.

There are pros and cons to every decision, and bringing a car to campus is a big financial obligation but offers complete independence in your first year away from the nest. Think wisely and don’t look back. 

2020 Kimberly Signature

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