When starting a course, probably the least exciting thing to think about is how you are going to get there. But it is something you need to put considerable thought into. After all, it will impact your every day living. And it can almost double your studying costs. Have I caught your attention yet?
For most students, the only feasible option is to drive or catch a bus. However I do know students who catch trains, trams and ferries every day to get to university! The joys of living in New Zealand. But for you, lets start with most students first choice: driving their own car.
Driving your own car requires three obvious things: a registered car, a license and petrol money. If you have all these, then you are good to go. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should go down this road.
Driving offers a lot of independence. If you want to head home between classes with enough time to spare you can. If you don’t want to miss an episode of Jeremy Kyle, you can. And if your friends want to meet up for coffee across town you can just get in your car and go. It’s all quite straightforward.
Alongside the independence comes time. And not to get too philosophical, but isn’t time all we really have? So do you want to waste yours being gridlocked by a bus timetable? Cars move a lot faster than buses – their speed limit is higher and they go exactly where you want them to. A bus can take you halfway across town and on all sorts of fun detours.
But all this comes at a cost. Driving is expensive. Especially long distance driving. If your course is in another town or city you may find driving a car doubles your course costs. Alongside fuel costs and costs of maintaing your car and keeping it, you know, legal. Also there are possible tickets. And parking fines.
Also universities and unitecs are notorious for having horrible parking. Especially when it’s free. Almost every class has a handful of late students grumbling about parking. And there isn’t much more humiliating then walking into a room of 200 odd students all staring at you for comic relief.
Now before you consider throwing away your keys for good, there are a few things you should consider about busing. Firstly is of course the money.
When I attended university, one day of driving costed as much as one week of catching the bus. However your situation may be different. If you live within a reasonable distance (read: not a different district) it may not be as dramatic.
Also believe it or not busing can make you smarter. Yes you read that correctly. The time that you would normally spend driving you can spend studying on the bus. And when you’re gridlocked by a bus timetable you are forced to do something with your time. I sometimes wonder if my grades would’ve been worse if I could’ve gone home when I wanted.
However this gridlocking has obvious disadvantages. If you’re balancing work and study, you just might not have time for waiting for a bus. The same goes for if you are balancing a family and study.
Busing also leaves little room for spontaneity. If your friends want to catch up for coffee you might need to consult a bus timetable. Usually everything needs to be checked and planned in advance. And if things haven’t been checked and planned in advance, you could end out missing your bus and being stranded.
You also may need to plan your timetable around the bus schedule. At best case this may mean needing to plan your tutorials well in advance. At worst case this may mean dropping a class you were really excited for.
In short: Driving saves time, busing saves money.