BY ERIC CHOI Features Editor
Incoming students at County College of Morris are acclimating to college life now that the fall semester has begun. CCM is a commuter school, and as such many students use the New Jersey Transit local bus system to commute. While using public transportation is economical and alleviates the local traffic burden, it can be limiting at times.
This annoyance can be understood through the experiences of Kleo Purbollari, a full-time CCM student who had taken the public bus during the Fall 2013 semester.
“I would leave Lincoln Park at 9 a.m. and arrive at 12:05 p.m. for classes that I had at 5 or 6:30 p.m.,” Purbollari said. “In the beginning I would get dizzy, then I got used to it.”
Another popular mode of commuting is carpooling. “I honestly love this form of commuting because I never have to drive anywhere, I have company a good amount of the time, and I have a little extra time in my day due to being in the passenger’s seat during car rides. I also really enjoy never having to walk any farther than the nearest road.” said Kathleen Connelly, full-time CCM student.
Connelly noted there are certain drawbacks, “Seeing as how I constantly need to work around other people’s schedules, intruding into other people’s lives, and missing out on many opportunities due to not having a ride.”
Allison Cadden, a full-time CCM student who works at Cam- pus Life, explained that she found carpooling with another “inconvenient with our conflicting schedules.” Evidently, carpooling may not be for everyone.
For students in such predicaments, acquiring a car may bring further mobility with social life and work opportunities. Although there are many concerns with such a proposition, CCM students have a unique advantage in dealing with financial and safety considerations.
It is a student’s prerogative to decide whether to buy or lease a car. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Buying new has no mileage limitations, but comes with a price premium due to rapid depreciation from the moment the car leaves the lot.
Buying used is far cheaper, both from private sellers and dealerships, but comes with reliability issues, limited warranty and usually comes with lesser finance deals.
Leasing has the lowest monthly payments, but comes with mileage penalties, which may be a problem for those who drive the mileage limitations, which are usually 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
New Jersey drivers log an average of 8,286 miles per year according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group; so CCM drivers who live in the county and commute locally should have no problems with mileage limitations. This includes Connelly who said, “I used to have a leased car, which was a very pleasant experience. I had 15,000 miles per year, but I never even hit 12,000.”
Student drivers often have to face higher insurance and financing rates. However, there are ways to go around such restrictions. One such method is working with an insurance company that offers lower rates for students who fare well academically. Many insurance companies such as GEICO and State Farm offer a good student discount for those with a letter grade B or above.
As for financing, asking a parent or friend to co-sign a lease or loan can offset higher rates inset by a shorter a credit history or lower credit rating.
As for the timing of the purchase, manufacturers constantly churn out new models every year from around July to September, which makes this month of October optimal in finding great financing deals. Moreover, shopping at the end of the month can lead to better deals. This takes advantage of monthly sales goals many dealers and salespeople try to meet for bonuses.
Being a CCM student comes with numerous public safety advantages. The public safety department offers help with jump starting or unlocking vehicles, providing escorts for those under fear, providing first aid to anyone suffering from illness or injuries and answering other requests of help.
According to the CCM Annual Security Report, there has only been a single arrest for car theft for the last three years on the Randolph and Morristown campuses.
Helping to deter such crimes are on-campus security personel that roam the parking lots. Patrol vehicles can be seen during the dark by overhead amber lights. After all, to quote the English comedian Dudley Moore, “the best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.”
The responses from self- drivers appear promising. “Driving myself to school in my own car was definitely my favorite form of commuting,” Connelly said. “It was nice because I never had to rely on anybody else and was able to live by my own time.”
Having transitioned from busing last semester, Purbollari reported a similarly positive experience. “For the same cost I’m able to cover gas and the insur- ance, and it only takes 30 to 40 minutes to commute now.”
What is not measured nominally is a greater sense of independence. “So pretty much getting a car was the only solution,” Purbollari said. “It’s tough to learn to commute and adapt to the US roads.” A story for another time.