Do I need a car freshman year?

Well. Do I? That’s the question that a lot of incoming freshman are asking. The answer is no. But, I had one anyways. Let me explain.

Having a car on campus can be great! You get to go anywhere you want, whenever you want. My best friend came from Utah for my birthday, and I drove to the airport to pick her up, I drove to Brown County State Park one Saturday morning for a hike with some of my other friends. And everyone was extra nice to me in case they ever needed a ride!

But it can also suck. Freshman will either receive a D or E pass. D passes will allow you to park by your dorm, but very few people receive D passes. You have to request it super duper early. So if you bring a car, you’ll probably end up with an E pass. Which means you’ll park by Assembly Hall. Assembly Hall (bless that holy building) is one of the most northern points on campus so if you’re not living in Northwest, it’s going to be a long trek to your car which kind of defeats the whole purpose of having one. Even if you are living in Northwest, the E pass has its flaws. You’ll have to move your car for every home basketball game to the even farther lot by Memorial Stadium. It’s a pain in the tookus, especially when game days are in the winter and you have to move your car when it’s freezing cold outside. Sometimes, even on not game days, IU just randomly will tell you to move your car with a one-day notice that you don’t always get. You’ll end up getting ticketed or worse, towed. Also, consider your potential gas expenses. ‘Nuff said.

There’s this thing called public transportation. I hail from the great City of Angels, and if you didn’t know – our public transportation SUCKS. Like it’s really old and dirty and doesn’t take you where you need to go and just all-around crappy. So my first instinct is to avoid public transportation at all costs. BUT, IU students have access to not one, but TWO bus systems that are completely free! IU buses are generally red and take you basically everywhere on campus. There’s several lines (A, B, E, X) that follow different routes and come around every 5-10 minutes. *If you’re living in Northwest – the A line is your friend! The other bus system is Bloomington transit and that has green buses. They’ll take you several places on campus and make stops off campus at College Mall and such. Btown buses come around less often 20-30 minutes, but you won’t need them as often so it’s okay. Super convenient for Target runs and floor dinners on Kirkwood. Download the DoubleMap app (or use the DoubleMap tab in the IU app) on your phone for live bus tracking (aka, you can wait in your room until the last second and then run out to the bus stop when its -20 degrees outside) for both IU and B-town lines.

For when you need to go farther than Bloomington, IU has Zipcars and shuttle services to Chicago!

From what I’ve written, it sounds like the cons definitely weight out the pros of having a car on campus, but it all depends on how much you value the ability to go places on your own schedule. I loved having a car on campus freshman year, but I think I could have lived without it. A lot of people bring their cars sophomore year as most people live off campus after the first year. The bottom line? No, you don’t need a car your freshman year. Sure it’ll be useful and convenient when you want it, but it can also be a hassle and there’s a lot of other options! If anything, try a semester without one, and if you still need it, buy a spring semester parking pass and you’ll be good to go!

I have no idea what i'm doing

Clara Chen

Finance, Business Analytics, and International Business Triple Major, IU 2018

Hey you guys! My name is Clara, originally from suburbs of Los Angeles but Bloomington is my home as well! In addition to my daytime job of Kelley kid, I moonlight as a Hutton Honors student, IU tour guide, and all-around nice human being! Hobbies include: traveling less than I want, eating more than I should, and wearing IU gear 24/7. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at

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