Should I Take my Car to College?

One of the most pressing questions you will have to answer as you prepare to go off to your new life as a university student will be whether or not you should be taking a car to college with you. Teens who have already experienced a few years of driving on their own will be hard-pressed to leave their cars at home, knowing the freedom that having your own vehicle provides. For parents, this may cause some sleepless nights as they consider the trouble that young adults can get into as they explore their newfound freedom with a car at their disposal.

What Students Should Consider

Taking a car to college certainly simplifies the packing, assuming that you will be driving to campus with your mini-fridge, microwave and stockpile of belongings you can’t do without. Before you even start measuring if the mini-fridge fits in the trunk, find out what the parking arrangements are on campus and at your on or off-campus housing. Universities in urban locations may discourage students from bringing their cars due to parking limitations. Some colleges may even bar all freshmen from bringing their own cars for many reasons, foremost of which is student safety.

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If your college allows cars on campus, your next consideration will be the costs of parking and typical maintenance, which you will have to provide on your own. You will also have to decide what your policy should be when friends ask to borrow your car or when they ask for rides. As one of the few students with their own car on campus, your relationships and popularity will be tested as you navigate car-sharing issues.

What Parents Should Consider

Parents associate that proud moment when their teens obtain their driver’s license with a steep rise in their auto insurance premiums. Allowing your college-bound kid to take their car to campus with them raises many financial issues aside from insurance coverage, which you will continue to provide presumably. As your son or daughter is essentially living on their own, how much help are you going to provide in terms of gas, fees and maintenance expenses? When these questions are raised, parents are often ask if it is absolutely necessary or even cost-effective for students to have a vehicle on campus. Colleges and college towns do a good job of planning to make sure that students have access to basic amenities in or around the campus. In urban campuses, public transportation provides easy access to most destinations.

What Experts Recommend

Consider your teens’ driving record before you start discussing the car issue. Has your son or daughter shown increasing responsibility with regard to curfews, driving rules, behavior and consideration for others such as filling up the tank and keeping the car clean for the family to use? If your teen has any type of ticket or traffic citation that suggests lack of experience or maturity, you may want to hold off on preparing a car for your college kid.

Find out the university’s policy regarding cars on campus especially for freshmen. If they have outright restrictions or strong suggestions to leave cars at home, it is probably for a good reason. Transportation alternatives are typically in place already when colleges invoke vehicle restrictions on campus. However, you may have to revisit the question the following school year. Hopefully, if you are the student, you will be better prepared with a budget, the attitude and the means to afford taking a car to college, and your parents should be proud of your maturity.