One of the downfalls of being a freshman in college is that many schools have strict parking rules for first years. My school, for instance, doesn't even allow freshmen to park on-campus! So, as sophomore year quickly approaches, many students begin considering bringing their car to school. Since I'm a sophomore now (and don't have a car for the second year in a row), I wanted to offer some questions you should consider asking yourself before paying that hefty parking fee.
1. How much does it cost?
This obviously varies at different universities (as do most of these questions), but most schools charge students a lot of money for parking. Keep this in mind when asking yourself the rest of these questions — is the cost worth it?
2. Are you guaranteed on-campus parking?
Since my school was built in the time of horse and buggies, there's not a whole lot of parking, so there's kind of an "overflow" lot a couple of miles off of campus that students can park in... even when they're paying for parking on-campus. Will you always be getting a spot on-campus or will you have the possibility of having to park elsewhere?
3. Where will you be parking?
Though this kind of goes along with the other question, think of it like this: will your car be assigned to a certain lot or is it first-come/first-serve in regards to spots. Will you be able to park in front of your dorm, or will it just be any available space, anywhere on campus?
4. Where is your campus located?
If you go to school in the middle of a city, chances are likely that you have a bunch of public transportation options around you, and no need for a car. If you go to school in the middle of nowhere, though, you may want to consider having your own, independent form of transportation.
5. Where do you live?
Is "home" (AKA your parent's house) close to campus, kinda far from campus, or really far from campus (i.e. plane-ride away)? This could be a factor in deciding whether or not you need a car. Even though I live about four hours away from my school, it's still close enough that someone can come get me or I can car-pool with friends back home.
6. Will you be living on-campus or off-campus?
If you're living off-campus, chances are you'll have a place to park at your apartment or house, so bringing your car makes sense. When you're on-campus, though, you have to deal with on-campus parking, which can be tricky.
7. How will you be using your on-campus space?
A lot of universities (like mine) offer on-campus parking for commuting students (those who live off-campus). These spots are guaranteed to be on-campus and in a relatively good location. Will you just be using your parking pass for classes (if you're commuting) or will you be using it for an actual home for your car (because you live on-campus)? For me, even though I'll be living in an apartment next year, I won't be purchasing a parking pass. I just don't feel like spending the $200 to park half a mile away from class when I could conveniently catch a bus. Plus, my school's parking regulations end after 5 PM on weekdays, so I could always drive over for club meetings or an evening shift of work.
8. What are the parking regulations?
Make sure and look into the parking regulations on-campus before dishing out your money. My school, for an example, is a pain during football and basketball season. During home games, students who park (and pay to park!) on-campus actually have to move their cars before 9 AM to a place off-campus so the university can use their lots as parking for sports fans. It's an incredible nuisance for people who park on-campus, and one of the reasons many people I know refuse to pay for an on-campus pass.
9. Will you be able to pay for gas?
With a car comes the added expense of gas. Will you be able or willing to pay for it?
10. Will any of your friends have cars?
One of the highlights of sophomore year, even for those without cars, is the fact that you'll have more friends that DO have cars on-campus. This opens up a lot of opportunities for car-pooling. If this is the case, you may not even need to bring your car!
11. How comfortable would you feel if you broke down on the Interstate?
This is an extreme scenario, but this is something to think about — especially if you live a few hours away from home. Personally, if I have any car problems, the first person I call is my dad... but he lives four hours away. If you were to have car problems at school, you'd have to take care of them without the help of your parents. Are you ready for that responsibility?
12. Who is paying for the parking pass?
If your parents are all-in for paying for you to have your car on-campus, then that's great! If your parents are like mine, though, they're probably hard-core budgeting just to get you through school. Will they even be able to afford a parking pass or will you have to save up for one yourself?
Ultimately, parking on-campus has its benefits and its doubts. As a sophomore without a car, I really haven't found it to be *too* annoying. Yes, I miss my car, but it hasn't been the end of the world. Plus, it makes me appreciate my car all that much more when I'm at home (and also makes me realize how expensive gas can be).
Lead Image Credit: Pexels via Negative Space