Regardless of whether your campus is urban, rural, all-inclusive, or only partially integrated, not having a car in college can enhance your first-year experience.
Shortly before my first year of college, I bought a 1998 Isuzu Rodeo for $2000. It had over 150,000 miles on it, the ceiling fabric draped into my eye line, and the breaks only sometimes worked. Despite its flaws, I loved that car and didn’t even consider not bringing it with me to school. After all, how was I going to drive home? How was I going to go visit my friends, and buy groceries, and take road trips? Like Romeo and Juliet, we were going to be together, and no one was going to tell us otherwise.
Unfortunately, the star-crossed lovers, our relationship met an untimely end. The week before school, the car stopped running altogether. Heartbroken, I realized that I would be facing the first semester of college without the mobility I had come to depend on.
To my surprise, not having a car at college turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Below are four reasons why all first-year students should leave the wheels behind:
1. It forces you to shop locally.
Learning about local markets, produce shops, and corner stores is advantageous to you, your community, and the environment. While you get fresher produce, your community receives the direct economic benefit of your patronage. Likewise, local markets are more sustainable and usually leave a much smaller carbon footprint.
2. It allows you to make new friends.
Like you, many other freshmen will not be bringing their vehicles to school. The shared experience of having limited mobility can bring people together and allow freshmen to get used to the idea of on-campus living. If you’re driving off to see old friends every weekend, it’s going to be very difficult to make new friends! Making new friendships is one of the best parts of living on campus.
3. It helps you save money.
For many students, college is the first time they are financially independent. Gas, insurance, and maintenance costs for a car can add up quickly. Instead, savings from not having a car in college can be used for social activities, buying books, or even funding research.
4. It forces you to learn about your campus and your community.
Every college has a student life organization that organizes on-campus activities. Take advantage of these events. Many of my favorite memories from college were from mud volleyball, movies on the common, and campus-wide BBQs. Not having a car also forces you to explore the town your college is in and lets you find the best movie theaters, concert venues, and hangout spots!
Having a car is a luxury, but it can also be a burden. For your first year of college, lose the wheels and the stress that goes along with them, and explore your surroundings!
Photo Credit: Flickr