Gen Z and Millennials Say There’s So Much More to College Than Life on Campus, According to New Zipcar Study

Zipcar survey reveals today’s students seek off-campus experiences to enhance college years

BOSTON, Oct. 01, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to a new survey by Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network, in conjunction with OnePoll, four times as many recent grads and college students prefer to spend time off campus with friends and family (40%) than binge watch TV and movies online (8.5%). This is just one finding among many that illuminate the growing trend of “adulting” that’s sweeping college and university campuses.

The survey asked 2,000 U.S. college students and recent graduates to share experiences that most enhanced their college years and best prepared them for the “real world” after graduation.  

It turns out that while late night parties and pranks still have their place in college, the “rager” lifestyle is a thing of the past. These days, students consider “all-nighters” to be a night of work (side hustles are common) or studying. Only 17% say raging parties are defining moments in college. 

Instead, students prefer to use free time to take advantage of their off-campus surroundings both to make memories with friends and to acquire “adulting” skills. Believe it or not, more than half of the respondents would choose access to a car over a smartphone (and a laptop too). A few reasons why access to wheels is important to today’s college students:

  • Twenty-five percent say taking road trips with friends is essential to creating life-altering experiences.
  • The age-old challenge of getting groceries dominates the desire for access to a car. Nearly 80% say they prefer to get their groceries themselves, despite the rise of delivery services. 
  • Nearly 30% say that not having access to a car to visit family and friends is a major stressor associated with being in college.

“As the largest provider of campus car-sharing programs, we spend a lot of time getting to know college students, what drives them, and how we can make their four years even better,” said Dan Cohen, Zipcar senior marketing manager, university. “These new insights underscore the real value of car sharing for students: being able to discover new areas off campus, from within their college town to farther-away road trip destinations.”

Other experiences cited as essential to “adulting” or preparing for post-grad life include learning to fold a fitted sheet (18%) plus other life stage events:

Top 10 College EssentialsTop 10 Defining MomentsTop 10 Skills Learned in College
  1. Access to a car
  2. Visits home to see family
  3. Meeting new friends; staying connected to old friends
  4. An alarm clock
  5. Time to myself
  6. Meal planning
  7. Independence
  8. Access to off-campus stores
  9. Smart phone
  10. My own TV
  1. Living on my own
  2. All-night studying/working
  3. Paying my own bills
  4. Prepping my own meals
  5. Late-night talk with friends
  6. Getting off campus
  7. Cleaning my living area
  8. Falling in love
  9. Going on a road-trip
  10. Having my heart broken
  1. Making new friends
  2. Time management
  3. Building a budget/finances
  4. Navigating new surroundings
  5. Paying bills on time
  6. Cutting expenses to save money
  7. Appreciating other cultures
  8. Advocating for myself
  9. Using multi-modal transportation to get places
  10. Getting a side hustle for extra money

And, while students may cite living on their own as the biggest step to growing up, parents aren’t completely forgotten. The top needs from home?

  • Money. Nearly 60% phoned home for extra money.
  • Advice. More than 30% phoned home for help handling apartment repairs (leaky toilet, etc.).
  • Cooking lessons. Thirty percent phoned home to ask how to cook something.
  • The car. Twenty-five percent phoned home to ask for the car.

Zipcar provides on-demand, universal access to a variety of cars with a presence at more than 600 colleges and universities across North America. Students can join for free through October 31. Students must be 18 years old to reserve a car. More information is available at

Survey Methodology
Regional, gender and age breakouts, raw data and graphics are available. The survey was conducted in August 2018 and included a random sample of 2,000 U.S. residents (regardless of Zipcar membership status) who attend or have graduated college.

About Zipcar
Zipcar is the world’s leading car-sharing network, driven by a mission to enable simple and responsible urban living. With its wide variety of self-service vehicles available by the hour or day, Zipcar operates in urban areas and university campuses in over 500 cities and towns across Belgium, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Iceland, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Zipcar offers the most comprehensive, most convenient and most flexible car-sharing options available. Zipcar is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: CAR), a leading global provider of mobility solutions. More information is available at

Media Contact:
Katelyn Chesley
Public Relations Manager, Zipcar