5 Reasons Why You Don’t Need a Car Freshman Year

by John Montesi

You’ve probably been told why you don’t need a car freshman year. Many schools don’t allow freshmen to bring cars in an effort to keep students on campus and involved in school. While you may not love this rule, there are a number of benefits.

I remember heading off to college and being so frustrated by the rule that I nearly switched commitments at the last minute. I thought it was a violation of my rights and ever-increasing independence. Then, I started looking at my other options. I realized they didn’t allow freshmen to bring cars to campus either.

I stubbornly accepted the fact—but within a few days, I wondered if I’d ever really need to drive again. Here are five reasons why you don’t need a car freshman year.

1. It’s One Less Distraction

I was told a car would only serve as a distraction while I adjusted to my new environment. I initially argued that there was no way this could be true—it would help me get to the places I needed to go! However, within a week of arriving on campus, I was so enamored with all the amazing, new, and overwhelming experiences that I barely missed my car at all.

Car or no car, college provides you with a lot of independence and new opportunities. The first year on campus is exciting. Between making new friends, learning the layout of the campus, and mastering class schedules, there’s hardly any time (or need) to drive anywhere at all, let alone worry about parking and upkeep.

2. College Does It All for You

I remember resisting this explanation, too. I was told I’d be well-fed, entertained, and have plenty of chances to explore the surrounding area. If I got desperate, maybe I’d befriend an upperclassman with a car.

I thought I could eat better, find my own entertainment, and ignore those intimidating upperclassmen just fine—if only I had my car on campus. But within a week or two, I was busy scheming out the perfect dining hall schedule, attending campus events and school-sponsored activities, and getting rides to the beach with new friends who were eager to spend the day outside together. Being immersed in the college community helped me to get comfortable much faster.

3. You Have to Get Better at “Adulting”

It’s annoying but true. If you’re a student at Azusa Pacific University, learning how to use a ZipCar, the Gold Line, or ride-shares are all important life lessons. Try taking the Gold Line into Pasadena or Los Angeles to see a concert, learning how to organize your paperwork (and your friends) to rent a ZipCar to go ski at Big Bear, or ordering an Uber to take you out on the town. All of these end up costing way less than traditional car ownership, and they all provide out-of-classroom educational experiences that make you feel really grown up.

4. You Become More Aware

Let’s face it, parking on campus can be a hassle. Living on campus, eating in dining halls, and walking to class all teach you things about space, resources, and time that you maybe hadn’t considered before. Starting a new routine, showing up at new places, seeing new faces, and allotting time in your days to do everything you have to do can be as educational as your favorite lecture of the semester.

5. You Make More Friends

One of the best things about college? The friendships you make. And if you ask anyone who’s been through it, they’ll tell you that they met many of their best friends in the most unlikely of ways.

A common denominator? They all were on or near campus, and open to meeting each other. It takes time to encounter every person at your school, let alone have a conversation with them! Cars make it easy to grab the first friend (or three) you find and hit the road, but they also make it harder to come across your peers in a conducive environment.

I know you’re rolling your eyes at me now—but if I survived freshman year without a car (and enjoyed it), so can you.

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