Freshman:better to bring car or not

<p>Hi! I have an incoming female freshman (Univ of Alabama) who would like to bring her car. I have been told by parents of female sophomores there that this is expensive and unnecessary as the parking is very limited and it takes more time to park than it would just to walk not to mention there is ample, convenient public transportation. There is a shuttle to Birmingham to get home any weekend and many of ride share opps to get back to her home town. Thoughts?</p>

<p>We said no car. It's not worth the hassle for a kid living on campus who doesn't have to find and off campus job. No need to worry about parking it, filling it with gas, maintenance issues, damage to it in the parking lot, being the floor chauffeur.</p>

<p>I think a car for freshman (at any school) isn't the best idea. The last thing you want to worry about is driving (either under the influence or not). In addition, your D will be "the kid with the car" so others will certainly ask to borrow it - another concern. I don't know much about Univ of Alabama, but I imagine she won't have much need for a car anyway.</p>

<p>Every situation is different. We are definitely allowing our daughter to take her car to college. She has been driving for 3 years and is responsible, so we see no reason to take that privilege away from her in college.</p>

<p>We would probably feel differently if she was attending an urban school. (FWIW, if my child was attending Alabama, she would be allowed to take her car.)</p>

<p>I realize there will be challenges with parking, maintenance, and people asking for rides. But I believe the trade-off is worth it for a good kid to be allowed a bit of freedom and independence.</p>

<p>Many schools don't allow freshmen to have cars. It sounds like UA does, so I 'd ask (a) how far is the lot from her dorm? How often will she use it? Does she really need it? Will she take care of it properly? How much does it cost to park it there? Do you live out of state and will you have to deal with getting the car home for inspections for tag renewal, etc? These can be inconveniences people may not think about. Good luck.</p>

<p>I agree that every situation is different. I think a big factor is how long your child has been driving. In our rural area, ALL the kids have cars in high school. They actually need them. In most homes, both parents work and aside of the school bus, there is NO public transportation of any kind. No bus, no taxi, no train, etc. They have clubs, after school activities, etc. A lot of the 'farm' kids also use their trucks to help with farm chores, errands, etc. All the households have 2 cars plus what the kids drive.</p>

<p>The closest Wal Mart is 28 miles away. Same for movies, restaurants, skating, etc. The kids here get their licenses at 16 .They drove all year with their parents when they were 15, so by the time they go to college, they have a lot of experience. I think that is the key.</p>

<p>At S' school, a parking permit was $165 for the entire year and he was given a spot in a parking garage. Even though his town has city transit, he drove his car to go to the movies, the mall, out to eat, etc. We only live 3 hours from there, so he also used it to come home occasionally.</p>

<p>He'll be in an apartment this year that provides a shuttle bus to campus. He'll take the shuttle to class, but still have his car.</p>

<p>I guess I would never consider being without a car, so can't imagine making one of the kids do so. I am sure it would be different if we lived in a city and we all took public transit, but it does not cost to park here - no meters anywhere. It's just a difference in living styles.</p>

<p>S always gave kids rides in high school too. At football practice or FFA meetings, etc underclassmen would need a ride home afterward sometimes. D15 is a varsity cheerleader, all this week they are taking the softball & football teams popsicles twice a day during their practices. We can't get her there all the time due to work & with 100 degree temps it's too hot to walk. The upperclassmen cheerleaders are providing the rides.</p>

<p>As far as maintenence, we had the 'garage' go over S car before he left. H changed the oil this past weekend, etc. If he has a flat tire, he'll need to change it or air it up to get it to a garage. We have emergency roadside on our car insurance too.</p>

<p>I am from Birmingham- my niece is going as a freshman this year and is taking her car. I don't think a car is needed at all especially if she isn't working- there are so many that do have cars and you can walk most places- she can always take it back after Christmas- what does she say? I would ask upper classmen also what they think about parkign etc....</p>

<p>I would not be in favor of a car for any freshman. There are too many disctractions for the new college student and having a car just adds to that list. In addition, there are the practical issues such as the parking cost and location, the constant requests to borrow or get a ride, the cost to operate and maintain (gas, etc.), the cost to insure which would be saved if the car was sitting at home, chance for damage while parked (stored), etc. The kids may be "experienced" drivers but they are still young drivers who are easily distracted and often don't always use common sense when in a vehicle. In addition, many, but not all, colleges do not permit freshman to have cars on campus.</p>

<p>Unless there were extenuating circumstances, my vote for freshman cars is no.</p>

<p>I would have her try without a car for the first semester and then evaluate at winter break. I'm usually of the opinion that it's great to know people in college who have cars, but it's not great to have one yourself. The expense, the maintenance, the hassle with parking, all of these things make it more of a hassle than a benefit in most cases. </p>

<p>Also, you may see if University of Alabama has a Zipcar program. Zipcar is a nationwide car sharing program that is in most major cities and on many college campuses. You pay a small membership fee (I don't know what it is for students, but for the regular program it's $50 a year), and then you pay by the hour or the day when you use one of the vehicles, rates vary depending on what kind of vehicle and when you're using it (an Audi costs more per hour than a Honda, weekend rentals cost more than weekday). Zipcars have designated parking spaces, and the keys are in the car already. In cities they are parked all over, but on campuses there is usually one or two garages where the cars are parked. You reserve time with the car online, then go to the parking space, swipe your membership card over the sensor on the windshield to unlock, get in and go. The only catch is you have to bring it back to its designated spot within the time of your reservation. Gas and insurance are included in the cost of membership, so that's a big savings right there. </p>

<p>Zipcar is a great program for people who don't need a car every day, but may occasionally want to have one. For the regular Zipcar program, you have be over 21, but for the on-campus programs you only have to be 18.</p>

<p>My D is attending UA this fall as a freshman also and will not be taking a car even though it would be convenient for her to be able to drive herself home during breaks (we are 2.5 hrs from UA). I know that some of her classmates will be taking cars, but it is not necessary to have one at UA. There are stores and restaurants within walking distance (and on the shuttle route) and a shuttle runs on Sunday's to Target and the Mall.</p>

<p>Just looked and Zipcar is in Tuscaloosa-</p>

<p>We did not experience any hassles with S taking his car last year. The insurance cost is the same, rather it sits at home or he has it, there were no hassles either. His car is newer, so no maintenence issues either. The parking fee was cheap. Our rule has always been that other people do not drive your car (same in high school) so not an issue either. However, his roommates, friends across the hall, etc ALL had their own cars at school too. No need to bum a ride from anyone. As far as convenience of the parking lot....at S' school, when you fill out your parking permit request, you tell them what dorm you live in. They assign you a postition that is close to your dorm. S' parking garage was less than 2 blocks away.</p>

<p>Our campus also has the zipcar program. I can't see paying for him to use it to come home on the weekend or any other time when he has a car that is paid for. Gas & maintenence will cost the same as it did when he drove it in high school.</p>

<p>I can honestly say that ALL the kids who graduated from HS with him, also took their cars off to school, regardless of what college they went to. We have kids in Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, etc. Some small colleges, some large. </p>

<p>again, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer. I think it just depends on your way of life where you live and where your kids are going.</p>

<p>I go to UA and I can honestly say I couldn't imagine not having a car on campus freshman year. While there are a few things within walking distance, you need a car to get to the mall, most restaurants, movies, etc. While a car is not necessary, of course, I do think it would be annoying not to have one at UA.</p>

<p>Also, I'm not sure what those parents meant about the parking, there is lots of parking on the Alabama campus and you are assigned the parking lot closest to your dorm.</p>

<p>Many colleges don't even allow freshman cars on campus. And it can be a hassle. For city campuses (like my son's freshman year in downtown Boston), a car would be crazy. </p>

<p>For Op/Alabama it might work ok. But personally I see little need for a freshman to go to the mall or restaurants. That's a good time to enjoy the campus experience.</p>