Micaela Ricaforte, guest writer

I got my first car last summer, right before starting my first year here at APU. I bought it on my own after saving up for three years; I was so excited to finally be independent and free to go wherever I wanted.

However, that excitement dropped when I learned that even after shelling out money for tuition, room and board, dorm supplies, school supplies and textbooks, I had to pay another $300 to park my car all the way over on West Campus—and only in Lot H.

Jimmy Wanner, a freshman criminal justice major, shares this concern. He said the biggest issue he has is that there are never enough parking spaces in Lot H.

“In the spots we are allowed to park, you sometimes have to circle around for ten minutes before a space opens up. We pay so much and yet don’t even have the option to park on East Campus where we actually live,” Wanner said.

Freshmen living on campus pay $300 for a semester-long parking permit. Returning students and commuters pay $125 per semester.

Is it the highest price compared to other schools’ parking permit fees? Perhaps not.

But to students like me, working part-time jobs to pay for pretty much everything not covered by student loans and scholarships, it’s quite a big chunk.

That sum could fill up my gas tank so my friends and I could take a weekend road trip to San Diego. It could buy me a few textbooks, a month’s worth of lattes at Mantra or a couple of tickets to the upcoming The 1975 concert.

Despite the cost of having a car on campus, is it worth it? Yes, I’d say so because of the freedom it affords.

Being a very introverted and very independent person, I definitely enjoy having the flexibility to go off campus whenever I need a breather.

My friends and I can pile into my car for beach trips on the weekends or Disneyland in the evenings. Sometimes when I need to think, I can go for a drive on the freeway at night with all the windows rolled down, blasting cold air and the Hamilton mixtape.

During these drives I often stumble on cute little cafés and bookstores a few towns over. I discover new books and music and meet new people. You can learn a lot about yourself while going on adventures alone. That, too, is a worthwhile experience.

I understand that APU wants students, freshmen especially, to be involved in the campus community. I appreciate it, and I really do enjoy all of the opportunities the school gives us to get connected.

To be honest, that’s probably where a considerable amount of our tuition goes. They want us to be able to experience every aspect of college.

However, I think the college experience is mostly about discovering who you are. Education, faith and community play huge roles in this process, but so does independence. I just think it shouldn’t come at so high a cost.