You got into college, congratulations! A new chapter is about to begin. Although the first day of school still feels far away, you’re already excitedly thinking about what you want to pack for college: clothes, shoes, toiletries, dorm room décor, your favorite stuffed animal from when you were a kid to counter some of that normal freshman year loneliness — but should you bring your car to college?
Almost half of college students bring their cars to campus, according to a U.S. News study from 2016. While some colleges don’t even allow students to bring their cars to school their first year, others do — but is it worth it to even bring your car to college in the first place?
Here are a few important things to consider when thinking about if you should bring your car to college.
The first thing to consider when deciding if you should bring your car to college is location. Where is your college campus located? Is your campus nearby a lot of shops and activities, or is it in the middle of nowhere? Is having a car necessary to get around?
If your college campus is located in the middle of a city or is within walking distance from the primary stores you’ll need on a weekly basis (like a grocery store and pharmacy), then you may not need a car. On the other hand, if your college campus isn’t centrally located or is more than ten blocks away from Trader Joe’s or Walgreens, then you might want to consider bringing your whip to campus with you.
Another crucial thing to consider is if your university offers off-campus transportation. Some colleges offer free or cheap transportation for college students to get around within a certain mile radius, which may make bringing a car to college unnecessary.
One of the biggest pros of bringing your car with you to college is the convenience of getting around. Rather than waiting for your school’s public transportation bus to pick you up or calling an Uber or Lyft, you can easily hop into your vehicle and go wherever you please, whenever you want.
However, bringing a car to college may also be inconvenient. Will your new friends take advantage of you and constantly ask you for a ride to Target or Safeway, since they don’t have cars? Or will other responsibilities of having a car on campus — like potential upkeep and cost — make the convenience of having a car not worth it?
While bringing your car to college is convenient, it can also be costly. Most colleges charge students semesterly or yearly fees — which typically cost hundreds of dollars — for a parking permit to park on campus. If you opt not to get a parking permit, some colleges also let you pay hourly or daily rates for parking, but this can also add up and be expensive.
Some other things to consider when thinking about the cost of bringing your car to campus are maintenance and gas. How much will gas roughly cost in your college area, and can you afford it with your college student budget? Will your car maybe require maintenance? What if you get into an accident and need to pay for repairs? Will you need to pay for car insurance?
You should also think about how you want to spend your college student budget, and how you may want to allocate your funds. Do you want to be spending your budget on your car, or would you rather use your budget for other things, like going out to eat with your friends or trying out that Pilates workout class?
Parking The Car
With the cost of parking in mind, another thing to consider is if your college campus has good parking options. While some colleges have plenty of parking available for students, other campuses are either smaller or may not have enough parking to accommodate students. Some parking areas or garages may only be for faculty and staff, and student parking may be limited.
You can reach out to your college advisor or check on your university’s website to see their parking permit options and plans, as well as what parking availability looks like for students of various university grade levels.
The last thing to consider when deciding to bring your car with you to campus or not is the added benefit of freedom in having a car. Not only is having a car convenient, but it also offers you a little taste of freedom and adventure. Having a car in college allows you to explore new parts of your college town or city, as well as get away from the tight space of your college dorm room. And as much as you may love your new college roommate, you might need a little break from them sometimes.
Overall, there are a lot of things to consider when deciding to bring a car with you to campus — but ultimately, you need to make the decision that is best for you!