One of the most important milestones in the life of a teenager is getting a license and having the freedom to drive your car, especially while in high school. It stands to reason that being used to this freedom and independence, it may be a bit difficult to leave your car behind as you go to college. Cars are essential and frankly, they make daily living less of a hassle. so you’d want to know if you can have a car as a college freshman.
The question of whether freshman can have cars depend in a large proportion on the school rules and the size of the institution. Freshmen will in most colleges not be allowed to have cars on campus, even though the upperclassmen may be given a bit of leeway. As a freshman, you should check the school policies on cars.
Colleges’ reason for discouraging cars for freshmen
Colleges have various reasons for discouraging cars not only for freshmen students but for all students on campus the rationale is that the roads are mainly for pedestrians and public transportation is available for longer distances. Colleges discourage cars for freshmen because
- There are limited parking spaces and the more people have cars on campus the more difficult parking will be.
- Community college is another form of freedom for young adults. There is the urge to explore and experiment, party and drink and all this is better done without being behind the wheel of a car to avoid a tragedy.
- Cars are a form of distraction, especially for nice freshmen
- Freshmen are more liable to get acclimated to college life and participate in school activities when they don’t have a car.
Alternative to cars
If your college falls under the category of those that do not allow cars for freshmen, there are other alternatives for you like:
- Walking- This is not as bad as it might sound. You get to exercise a bit and save money while doing so. Note that your college schedule might not leave much time for going to the gym, this is a healthy alternative.
- Biking- Lots of schools have bike racks and paths for those who use bikes to get around school. Just like walking, it gives you a means to exercise and you can save money on gas for cars, parking fees, or even public transportation.
- Public transportation- Campuses have buses and shuttles that students can take to the campus and off it. While you pay a fare, it is less costly relative to what you’d spend owning a car. They are convenient and efficient such that there is no long waiting period.
- Car-share programs- If public transportation like the buses and shuttles are not your cup of tea, car-share programs like uber might come in handy. You won’t need to work to school or from the bus stop, you have the convenience of being picked up wherever you are.
- Carpooling- You can carpool with a classmate or roommate that has a similar schedule as yours and owns a car. This way, you share a bit of the cost without the responsibility that comes with being a car owner.
Consideration for owning a car on campus
You should check if your college accepts cars first. If you are fortunate and your college does not prohibit cars for freshmen, there are some things you should take into consideration
- The parking system of your school and the rules guiding them. This will enable you to avoid trouble with campus patrols and reduce or eliminate getting parking tickets.
- You should consider the cost of having and maintaining a car, and decide if it matches your college budget.
- Your driver’s license and car insurance should be up to date.
- Alternative means of transportation.
Merits and Demerits of having a car on Campus
- You would need it in cases where you have a job or an internship off-campus, especially if there is no preferable public transportation available.
- Owning a car can be a source of income for you. You can be a rideshare driver as your side hustle for uber or Lyft. Also, classmates can rent your car using Turo.
- If you need to return home for school breaks and your home is a road trip short, it will cost less if you own a car.
- A major disadvantage is the cost. There is the cost of student car insurance as well as the parking costs. Aside from these costs, you will get a parking ticket if you violate any of the parking regulations.
- As a freshman, having a car might boost your popularity. However, it has the negative effect of making you the designated driver for any group outing. If the outing involves drinking, you are most liable to drunk drive.
What colleges allow cars for freshmen?
- California Polytechnic State University
- University of Iowa
- James Madison University
- Penn State University; amongst others.
What if I need a car for health reasons?
If you need to make frequent trips to see a specialist due to chronic health concerns and would need your car, there is a way around it. For colleges that have a no-car policy, they can make an exception for you once you visit the school’s disability office or transportation office. If an exception is not possible, an alternative that will not compromise your health will be made available.
Is having a car on campus necessary?
Unless you have frequent reasons to go off campus or your home is close enough to drive back for school breaks, having a car is not necessary. There are other cost-friendly alternatives.
Where can I park my car?
Smaller colleges have few parking lots available to students though the location is not the best. For larger institutions, you have the assigned parking spot for a fixed spot everywhere, a general permit that allows you to park at an available spot if you find any, and lastly, a mix of the two types.
It is most advisable for freshmen to not have cars on campus to avoid distraction but if you decide to have one, stick to the rules and ensure it is not a source of distraction.