As an out-of-state student from Hawaii, I have been on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to owning a car as a college student. When I first got to campus after traveling thousands of miles from home, clearly, my car wasn’t a part of my luggage.
I survived my freshman year living in Bunting Hall without a car, and I experienced both the good and bad about it. My roommate, who was from Loveland, loved to drive. In fact, she was so homesick she would drive home every weekend—yes, every weekend—to be back with her family. Mind you, she isn’t a student here anymore. We were best friends at one point, and she was more than willing to take me anywhere. We went to Walmart at least twice a week, had late night Taco Bell runs and even drove out of town to Denver and Aspen on free weekends.
Because it wasn’t my car, I never asked her to drive me places; it just seemed impolite. All the trips were initiated by her, and I was happy to tag along.
However, when I wanted to go somewhere on my own, I tried to get there in any other way that I could. I took Mavrides at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights to get necessities. Heck, sometimes I took it to go watch a late movie with some other friends. When I wanted to go places that were only open during the day, I rode the bus, which I now avoid at all times whenever possible.
Other than having to pay for the occasional taxi and riding the Grand Junction public transit system, it wasn’t all that bad. I think it helped that I lived on campus because there wasn’t much of a need to go off-campus to do things.
If I got hungry, I would walk to the cafeteria. If I got tired of the cafeteria, I would walk to Dominos. Feeling fat? I went to the Maverick Center gym. Everything I needed was on campus, and going off campus was just a privilege that wasn’t far from reach.
However, when nursing school started, I quickly learned that having a car was no longer something extra but a necessity. Regular 5 a.m. shifts two to three times a week at different clinical sites mandated a motor vehicle.
During this time, I also lived off campus, meaning that there was an increased need for things: toilet paper, groceries, sponges, trash bags. A weekend-only MavRides trip to Walmart wasn’t going to cut it. Even if I lived literally across the street from campus, there are places I need to be, places that require a car. And thinking back now, I have no idea how I got through living in Grand Junction without a car.
I guess it’s hard for me to argue whether or not freshmen should bring a car to campus because I feel like I did fine without one. However, if I was given the option back then, and I already had a car that I didn’t have to ship overseas, I would have brought a car myself.
While I would discourage students from going back home to the front range every weekend like my roommate did. I would have a vehicle for the convenience. The public transportation system in Grand Junction isn’t that great. In fact, in nursing school, we have an assignment that requires us to take the bus so we can relate to the struggles and reflect on it. I’m not kidding.
Having a car opens doors to exploring the Grand Valley, and I’m a big advocate for friend bonding both on and off campus. Something as simple as going on a hike to the Monument or visiting downtown is always nice.
While I don’t think freshmen students necessarily need a car, it’s definitely something I would recommend. I think it is also important to have self-control. You have to hold back from going home all the time or going out to eat every day of the week. But hey, it’s all included in the process of growth, experiencing independence and responsibilities as a new college student.