If you’re a student with a driver’s license, then there is a fair chance that you drive to school. That is if you have a car of your own or one available to you. If you have 4-5 classes scheduled all back to back, are carrying a bag big enough to smuggle snacks into a movie theater, or have mastered the art of sleeping in odd places, then the chances are that you would love to drive to school if you don’t already.
It’s also true that there are some advantages to living on campus. I mean, you are right there by your classes, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The real question is this: What does it mean to be a commuter student? And what are the benefits and cons of driving yourself to school every day, or at least most days? Let’s drive right into them!
PRO: NO BUSES OR PARENTS HERE
It’s finally time that you got to pick the music in the car! No more riding on those packed and noisy buses where you have absolutely no sense of privacy at all. Best of all, no more getting out of bed way too early so that you can catch the bus or a ride with your parents.
If you live by yourself or with friends off-campus, you also don’t have to worry about answering anyone but yourself. That is a massive plus in most young people’s minds. Throwing a raging house party is not a possibility. Just think of all the options that have just opened up!
CON: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR ACTIONS
This kind of freedom also means taking responsibility for all your actions: the good and the bad ones. If you break something in your rented house or apartment, it’s your job to replace it. Granted, you might still have to pay for it if you live on campus. About that raging house party, if the cops do get called, it’ll be you they are talking too.
As for the car part: you’re also the one who will be in charge of keeping it up and running. This includes everything about the car, including that coveted radio. It’s also not likely that anyone is going to remind you of when it is time to leave for school.
PRO: A GOOD BREAK FROM THE SAME OLD THING EVERY DAY
One of the more tedious parts of living on campus is seeing the same things and people day in and day out. That can get boring pretty fast. Having your own vehicle and making your own way to class also means having it to go to other places when you’re off of school.
Furthermore, having your own place off-campus means having an escape from campus life and the campus rules. Generally, you are free to do what you want in your own place. You’re free to get food where you want and when you want as well. It’ll probably be more affordable than the stuff on campus.
CON: CLASS WILL BE A BIT FARTHER AWAY
You might not have to get up at 5 am to get where you’re going, but you’ll still have to be up at a reasonable hour, so you have time for the commute to class. There are these little things we call “traffic jams” that can mess up your day. Even a small accident can cause other passing drivers to rubberneck it, which means they’re likely slowing down also though they don’t have to do so.
While there are definitely some perks to living off-campus and having your own vehicle, there are some downsides, too. For starters, gasoline and car maintenance can cost a pretty penny.… or a lot of pretty pennies. You might not always be able to afford that weekend getaway.
Then there’s the matter of finding parking on campus that is anywhere near where your classes actually are. A lot of colleges and universities have students from all around who will also be commuting to class. Everyone has to park somewhere. It would be a smart idea to leave early enough to score a good parking spot.
PRO: GOING OFF CAMPUS FOR LUNCH
Needless to say, the campus cafeteria isn’t exactly loaded with top tier chefs. Usually, it’ll be the same general thing each day. It’ll probably be boring and overpriced. So, what do you do if you already commute to school? Make your way for lunch to a finer establishment. Truth be told, it will probably cost less or the same for better quality grub. You could also bring your own lunch and have your own transportation to be whatever you want it to be.
Having a vehicle gives you the opportunity to choose where and what you want to eat. It goes along with the new freedom you have obtained by being able to drive yourself.
CON: LITTLE TO NO STORAGE ON CAMPUS
Depending on how you schedule your classes, you may have a hard time with meals and everything else you have to carry. While it is nice to have everything in your car, you might now always have the time to go to your car and grab it. The same could be true if you lived in a dorm, but it is less likely. For one, people with dorms don’t usually schedule all their classes together so that they can go to class and then go home. People who commute to college absolutely do most of the time.
So, you’ll need to account for how you’ll be lugging everything you need throughout the day of classes with you. A rolling book bag might even be a fair option if your textbooks are unfortunately large.
PRO: FAMILY VISITS ARE EASIER
Whether you’re going to see them or they’re going to see you, you’ll definitely see more of your family this way. You might field fewer calls from dear old mom if you go see her every weekend. If you’re a girl, old Dad will definitely feel better if he can come to visit you at your place for dinner or something. Maybe you have siblings that you like to hang out with on Friday nights.
Whatever it is, it will definitely be easier if you commute to campus rather than live on it. Dorms tend to have a lot of rules about family visits and for a good reason. They’re not very spacious, you’re living in close quarters with other students, and there are some obvious security concerns with people visiting, family or not.
CON: FAMILY CAN BE SLIGHTLY INTRUSIVE
Truth be told, you may have just got out on your own, got a car, and got a place of your own if you are in college. Sometimes, a family can be very nosey if not downright annoying. Those visits could turn into a headache and even prevent you from doing important things like studying. They might also not like your new lifestyle.
If you’re going to a college away from home, then there’s probably a reason for that. It could be that you wanted to go to a specific college, but it could also be that you wanted a fresh start out on your own. Your family may or may not respect that.
Final Pros and Cons
There are obviously a lot of reasons your new ability to drive can be an advantage, but there are also a lot of disadvantages, as you have seen from this list. There are a few more we would like to briefly mention.
The new freedom is one of the most significant advantages most new drivers will love. It allows them the ability to go anywhere. It also provides them with an advantage of being “cool” as your parents taking you to school is often considered to be embarrassing and lame to most individuals.
As for the disadvantages, there are still a few more to mention. One is a new difficulty most who are new to driving have not experienced before, parking. Parking can be complicated as it differs from driving; it requires precision.
Another downside is the cost involved with teenage driving. Insurance for a teen driver is a lot higher than for an adult. There is also the cost of gas to include in the price of having a vehicle, which we briefly mentioned earlier, but this is why new drivers will often choose to get a job to cover these additional costs. A job may be a pro or a con depending on the mindset of the new driver.
The Bottom Line
This is a big decision any way you look at it. A lease on a house or an apartment will likely be for twelve months. So, once you sign it, you are committed to staying that long or suffering the legal and financial consequences.
You also are making the commitment to make that commute every day that you have classes. There’s definitely no changing your mind half-way through a semester and getting a dorm, either way, you look at it. The best advice you’ll hear is that you need to weigh all your options for choosing. Pay close attention to your own wants and needs, as well as your financial and physical limitations. The best option is to sit down and weigh all your options, write down what your expenses are, and your income; that way, you know just what you can afford.
When summer is just around the corner, you will see more and more new drivers on the road. Driving, for a new driver, is one of the most fun new things they get to experience. It is newfound freedom for most individuals, while some will remain hesitant about getting their license.
While the process for getting a license is long, but to most, it is a rewarding process. A permit is available mostly at the age of 15; then, there is a six-month waiting period before your license can be obtained.
If you do not know how to practice for your license or permit, you can get a driver’s manual book for free at the DMV or practice online for free with various practice tests.
Before you can obtain your license, a safety test is required. After you have passed all the tests, you are finally ready to take the driver’s test, which is the part that makes most really nervous. Once you pass that test, you can drive by yourself until the six months are up.
There’s not necessarily a right or a wrong decision here, but it will matter one way or the other. In the end, you just have to do what you’re capable of doing that is best for you.