Cars. Many of us spend a great deal of our time in them. Our teenagers can’t wait until they can get their license and gain some independence. According a U.S. News survey, about half of college students have cars on campus. Depending on the school, up to 98% of students have vehicles on campus. But do college students need them?
There are several reasons why many schools are telling their first-year students to leave their cars at home.
- Lack of Sufficient Parking When there’s a parking shortage, colleges may prefer first-year students to not bring vehicles to campus. It’s na easy ask because of the number of students living on campus.
- Drinking Students newly experiencing freedom from parent rules may test limits. For instance, some students may drink excessively, which isn’t a good mixer with car travel.
- Sleepy Driving Students who have access to vehicles may drive to get food late at night. Tired students are more prone to accidents.
- Encouraging On Campus Activities If students can’t drive, they’re more likely to be active on campus. Students who enjoy campus life are more likely to perform well academically.
- Cars Reduce Dedication to Studying. Colleges recognize that having a car can provide a distraction from studying. Keeping students on campus may help them to stay focused on coursework.
No matter what your student’s thinks, you and your student should make a decision together on whether a car is necessary. Use these questions to guide the discussion:
- Does your student need to take a car to campus as a means of getting back and forth from home (if living at home or in an apartment)? Are there any alternative means of transportation?
- Does your student need the car on campus in order to get to an off campus job or internship?
- Will the car serve as a distraction from studying or from on-campus activities?
- Is your student prepared for the costs of having a car: gas, repairs, registration, insurance, parking permit. Will they end up having to work, which takes time away from studying and activities, simply to pay for the car?
- If your student owns a car, and chooses not to take it to school, can you take the car “off road” and save on insurance money?
- How will your student feel if they are constantly asked to drive his friends places because they have a car and their friends don’t?
- Will your student be comfortable loaning his car to his friends? Should they? They will likely ask to borrow it.
- Does your student always want to be the driver when students go somewhere? Are they willing to always be the designated driver? Will they take that responsibility seriously?
- If your student gets parking tickets on campus, who will be responsible for paying for them?
- Are there any rules or expectations that you have about the use of the car. Are they clear to both of you?
For many students, leaving the car at home – for one year, two years, or all four years – is the right decision. They save money, have less responsibility, stay focused, and get involved. For other students, having a car on campus may be important or necessary. The decision about whether or not to take a car to college should be one that is well considered and that you make together.