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Going to college is a massive feat for any student as it requires independence and personal responsibility. However, one of the most significant conversations parents and students tend to have before college is surrounding cars while living on campus. Many take a vehicle, but it seems there are just as many students without cars. So, do college students need cars on campus?

More than half college students have cars on campus

For the most part, it’s still common for college students to have cars on campus. In fact, according to ValuePenguin, about 56% of undergraduate students had a car in 2022. This number has increased, as about 48% of college students had cars in 2016. It’s also important to note that this number is higher despite some universities restricting freshmen from bringing cars on campus.

Busy parking lot
Parking lot | Diy13 via iStock

The previously mentioned study also highlights the type of vehicles that students bring to college. It seems while many college students want Teslas, various Toyota models were the most common, with about 16%. Honda wasn’t far off, as about 15% of the students surveyed owned a Honda on campus. Chevrolet and Ford were also popular automakers for college students.

Cars aren’t typically necessary on campus

Of course, college students having cars while living on campus brings an extra layer of convenience. It makes it easier to go home for breaks between quarters or semesters, students can more easily find jobs off campus, and it could save on things like ride-share platforms or even food delivery.

However, one of the great things about most colleges is that they almost function as cities. There are usually tons of food options, there’s typically a place to go for healthcare, and all sorts of recreation opportunities. In fact, many college students who have cars on campus admit to rarely driving them. Of course, parking is always limited on college campuses, which can be inconvenient.

Additionally, having a vehicle on a college campus isn’t always cheap. Sure, it might seemingly make more sense than buying plane tickets for students to come home for breaks, but there are other expenses. For example, colleges typically require a parking decal. They are affordable at some schools, but others charge an arm and a leg, which may not be worth it for a rarely used car.

So, do college students need cars? There’s no definite answer to that question. Students who are further away from home or decide to go to college in an area without options for public transportation might find having one useful. However, most students who either don’t have cars on campus or wait until later to get one don’t usually have many complaints about their lack of a vehicle while living on campus.