In a country as large as the United States, sometimes it seems obligatory to own a car. But when you’re in college your life tends to compact down to a small space, particularly if you live on campus. You go to class, eat at the dining hall, hang out in your rooms, nap on the quad, and likely vomit somewhere in between.
For some, this means that there’s no need to have a car at Uni. For others, it’s more important to have independence over cozying up into campus life. Here are some pros and cons to having a car at school to consider before you take the plunge.
The number one reason to own a vehicle is freedom. In the USA, where the great American road trip holds a special place in our national heart, I love knowing that I can hop into my car and go on an adventure.
The freedom cars afford is important for more practical reasons, as well. If there’s an emergency, whether in your family or in your hometown, it’s good to be able to get to where you need to be with little fuss. Also consider that it’s easier to help others move around if you have a car, be it friends who need some munchies (more on that later) or your grandmother who needs to get to an appointment.
Pro: Time Management
There are places with pretty terrible public transportation options, so sometimes getting around can take a while. It can make time management much easier if you can rely on being able to structure your day with the use of a car.
Especially if you have an internship or job outside of town, you don’t want to risk missing your bus or train to get where you’re going. It’s much easier to present yourself as professional if you have complete control over your mode of transportation.
Pro: Experience and Practice
One of the ways to stay safe in bad conditions is to practice driving. The majority of driving well is forming habits like checking your mirrors and judging distances. Practice in bad weather teaches you how to stay calm and react to problems.
Here’s the big con. If you’re going to have a car on campus, there are a few things that you need to calculate into your budget and prepare for.
First, you’ll need to worry about getting a car. Utilize car financing tools to assess what your best option is financially. Next, you’ll have to obtain insurance to protect yourself from liability. Of course you must also budget for gas and maintenance.
Luckily, there are ways to minimize your costs. Aside from making smart borrowing decisions, you can also choose a model with a high MPG rating and compare rates to get the best deal for car insurance. Do a bit of research to ensure that you won’t need to drop some extra cash fixing it up, and you can minimize the dent a car will put in your budget.
Con: Greater Risk
College students tend to be prime targets for police, especially in communities densely populated by students. Nearly 1.3 million people die in car crashes each year, and reasons for collisions and accidents range from things like folks driving on the wrong side of the road, failing to stop at lights or stop signs, or even a faulty vehicle that you didn’t know was recalled.
Con: Friends Bumming Rides
In the present, though, having a car can make you popular for the most annoying reason. I mentioned earlier that the freedom of having a car can benefit your friends, as well. Helping out friends feels great, doesn’t it?
But I learned early on in my university experience that the person who wants to practice driving is the one who gets roped into ferrying people back and forth across town. Maybe it’s just me. I got pretty tired of midnight snack runs across town.
You’ll have to decide for yourself if a car is worth the work to keep during your stay at Uni. Weigh how these pros and cons affect your life and make an informed decision about whether or not a car will be an asset or a burden.