The Pros and Cons of Taking a Car to College

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you have a child getting ready to head off to college, there are a lot of decisions to make, including how they’ll get there and get around once they arrive. Not all campuses have easy access to public transport, so how do you know whether your college freshman will need a vehicle of their own?

Take a look at these pros and cons to help determine how you should help them prepare for this exciting new chapter.

Pro – Moving

If you send them with a car, your student will be able to pack up most of the belongings they need and bring them rather than making all new purchases once they arrive. This can be useful, too, as they move between student housing locations, travel around for summer internships, and finally return home with a degree.

Con – Travel Time

That initial voyage to their college campus will take more time by car than airplane, and the farther the journey, the more planning you’ll need to do for the cost of gas, food, motels, and possible car maintenance along the way. If all those things really add up, you may be better off having them stick to suitcases and buying a plane ticket.

Pro – Easy Errands

During the course of each term, your student will run lots of errands to grocery stores, Walmart, appointments, and activities. With their hectic schedule, it may be difficult for them to manage everything with only public transport. A car will give them the ability to squeeze in these necessities wherever they can.

Con – Routine Maintenance

Your student may have just enough to pay for gas every week, but a car requires routine upkeep that goes beyond gasoline. If they want it to last all four years, you need to plan for maintaining air filters, oil changes, and the cosmetics of the car like washing and vacuuming. And don’t forget the pricey addition of vehicle insurance. Determine whether this is something your student can handle or something you would have to fund for them.

Pro – Adventure Radius

Those extra maintenance costs may be well worth it if your student expects to go on all sorts of adventures. College towns are usually bursting with things to do, but if their university is in proximity to great hiking, camping, or fine arts facilities, a car will be just the thing to get them the 30 or so miles that otherwise could separate them from making some of their best college memories.

Con – Parking

Many apartments have sparse parking and often a parking pass or rented parking spot is outrageously overpriced. When driving across town to visit friends, there can be little to no visitors parking as well, so it’s easy to end up with a boot on your tire. Parking passes on campus can be just as pricey, and having one won’t guarantee you a spot in the lot.

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