Taking a car to uni: pros and cons
University season is fast approaching, which means packing up all your wordly possessions and hoofing it (back) to your halls or house.
The question is: to car, or not to car? Sure, you'll be able to get your stuff to your room a lot easier than having to lug it all the way on the train, but where will you park it? Doing the shop for Super Noodles and chicken nuggets will be a breeze, but not if EVERYONE is hammering on your door for a ride...
So - take it or leave it?
Pro: getting around will be easier
Whether you're ferrying your friends to Nando's or bringing home those stacks of finance or medical books, you'll have a far easier time of it if you're rolling around in your own set of wheels. You won't be at the mercy of public transport.
Con: where do you put it when you're not driving it?
If you're studying at a university that's in the middle of a city, you may run into a few space issues - mainly, there is none. Getting a spot around uni or your halls / house can be a nightmare. Not only that; what about the other areas that you're parking in?
Are they going to be safe and secure spots, or are you going to come back and find your car in battle-mode (windscreen wipers pointing skyward), with flat tyres, a keyed paint job, and a half-eaten kebab wedged into the door handle? Stranger things have happened, believe me.
Pro: your friends will love you
If you've got a car, people will love you. You'll be able to trade all kinds of favours for lifts to dates, train stations, gigs and nearly-slept-through exams.
Are those dark clouds outside looking a little rough? You can carpool everyone into uni without having to brave the weather. You'll be a hero. The only problem is...
Con: your friends will take the piss
If you're not strict, they'll swarm you and make you their personal taxi. Be sure to put your foot down when things become unreasonable. You are not at their beck and call.
You can oblige the odd jaunt - just make sure you're not the only one shelling out for fuel. You also need to know how and when to say no, especially if you're in no state to drive. Someone demanding a lift during Freshers or after a few drinks should be left in no doubt that you're NOT prepared to endanger your life or your licence.
Get a crash course in the perks of being an amazing designated driver.
Pro: day trips and travel home will be easy
Got free time on a beautiful day? You can high-tail it to the beach on a whim. Wanting to go home for a real meal and maybe some 'help' with the washing? No sweat, you've got your car!
Having the freedom just to jump into the driver's seat and take yourself or others off on an adventure / laundry trip cannot be understated.
Con: what about the rest of the time?
Other than those magic day trips to The Big Asda or heading home for Dad's famous roast dinners, when are you going to use your car?
Some courses do require you to get from A to B quite a bit, like if you're doing placements or going to remote areas for research trips. But if you're not a medical or geology student, when else are you going to use your car? If you're having trouble answering that one, it might be worth thinking about leaving it at home.
Basically, it all boils down to these 2 points:
If you take your car to uni, you can drive where you want, when you want, with the people you want.
You're more independent and less at the mercy of poor weather, bad locations or public transport issues. You can transport more stuff, whether it's library books, food or friends.
If you're planning to find a part-time job, having your car with you can open up extra possibilities that might be a few miles away from your res. Don't forget, if your car insurance has you down as a student, you'll need to check with them about updating your details to include having a part-time job.
Owning a car isn't a cheap exercise. Even your most basic running costs, like fuel, maintenance and servicing, cost a packet.
But then on top of these usual costs, taking your car away from home means you'll have to change your insurance. And your new postcode in the student ghetto of a big town is likely to make your premium more expensive. There's often more theft, more dings and fewer driveways where you're going.