Campus and your car: Convenient or just a hassle?

Bringing your car to school gives you freedom, but don't think you're ever free from $25 parking tickets.

At the beginning of my freshman year, it was a large discussion between my parents and I on whether or not I would bring my beloved car to school with me. I was fairly set on bringing it, but there are a lot of factors that go into the decision of whether or not a car is worth bringing to school, especially as a freshman.

You will (more than likely) be a resident on campus. This means that everything is basically within a 15 to 20 minute walk -- including downtown Columbia. So technically, you don't need a car to access food and entertainment.

But, the independence of having a car is really nice. You don't have to rely on other people for rides from here to there, or anywhere. You are only concerned with your schedule when it comes to getting where you need to go.

Another disadvantage though, is a lot of people can ask you for rides. If you're good at saying no, then great. Otherwise, negotiations of schedules, payments, etc. are needed. You will more than likely be asked to be a designated driver. Seeing as you have a car, and some students do not, they will exploit your advantage.

The closest Walmart is about a 10-minute drive from campus. Which means it would be one hell of a walk. This is another place where a car comes in handy. Especially at the beginning of the year, you will find that random Walmart (or Target, located at Columbia Mall) runs are necessary to pick up all the college essentials you didn't think of when your parents were helping you move in. Without a car, you have to try and find a ride there. Luckily, MU provides shuttles on certain days to and from Walmart.

A car helps you get a job… indirectly. Jobs can be found on campus, but they're a little harder to come by (since everyone wants a job on campus). So, it helps if you have a car to go job hunting out in Columbia, and then, if you land a job, to get to and from work on a regular basis. Jobs help when you're trying to pay for gas to get places and for those aforementioned Walmart trips.

The biggest disadvantage though, has GOT to be parking. The university’s parking system is terrible. If you don’t sign up for a parking permit months in advance, you could be stuck walking 15 minutes to your car simply to drive 15 minutes somewhere else. And then, if you think you will outsmart the sneaky ticket distributers the university hires, think again. They wake up at the crack of dawn to make sure that the parking violators are fined $25 for mis-parking in certain areas. They work at all hours of the day. You could be in a spot for five minutes, only to come out and find an obnoxiously orange packet tucked neatly under your windshield wipers. Frankly, it’s an outrage. Meters cost a million quarters, and most of the parking downtown is parallel (except on Broadway), so if you’re an inexperienced parallel parker, you should start practicing now.

Overall, I liked having my car on campus. It gave me freedom to go where I wanted to go, and go home if I needed to. I was able to get to and from my workplace without hassle, and my friends didn’t misuse my driving powers too often. The one thing I hated was parking. Students can appeal to have their space transferred to a different lot within a week the university specifies, but I always seemed to miss that week (it can only be found on the university transportation website).

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