One of the primary concerns students have when considering a college is the appeal of its location. This includes everything from weather to surrounding amenities. Inherent in that analysis is feasibility of access. In short: how the heck can I get from Point A to Point B?
For many campuses, the answer is almost always, "walk." Typical variations ensue, of course; rollerblades, skateboards, etc. Bikes are common across college campuses, but some universities are friendlier than others when it comes to your two-wheeled vehicle. Fortunately, RIT has a fair number of bike racks all over campus and a dedicated path stretching from the dorms to the academic side of campus. The typically long and harsh winter in Rochester, however, makes bikes a little less appealing. A fair number of students don't let that stop them from hopping on a bike in the middle of January, though.
I myself had a bike on campus last year, but I found I actually preferred the walk across campus. End-to-end it's only about 15 minutes. In the winter my bike was a hassle. Ultimately, I never used it on a regular basis. I also had the supreme displeasure of having my bike vandalized. Someone decided that thoroughly bending my back tire would be fun. Incidences such as these seem pretty rare, but the risk is there nonetheless.
But the real question is always about going off campus. At some schools, campus is interwoven with part of a city, leaving students to either take a bus to parts of campus or make long walks. Here at RIT, campus is completely isolated. This offers an incredible environment, but presents some challenges for students looking to get away from school for a bit.
Luckily for us, we have busses that come to campus that will bring students to a lot of places, including Marketplace Mall and downtown. I've never used the busses myself, but they're very popular, particularly among students who live off-campus (in Park Point, for example). Unlike many schools, freshmen at RIT are allowed to have their own vehicle, which has its advantages and disadvantages.
On the plus side, you're free to go where ever you'd like. On the downside, freshmen in the dorms park in B Lot, which is more than a 5 minute walk from Ellingson, and not much closer from the other dorms. In the winter, students have to clean off their vehicles, shovel out the snow around them, etc. Not to mention all the other expenses related to owning and operating a car. Whether or not having a car is worthwhile depends entirely upon the individual.
Last year, I had my car on campus for Fall quarter. After Thanksgiving break, I opted to leave my car at home because I was using it, at most, once a week. By leaving my car at home, I was able to reduce my insurance to the storage rate, which was much lower. I also did not have to walk out to B Lot every time it snowed (which actually wasn't often last year, an anomaly for Rochester).
This year, living in Global Village, I have chosen to keep my car all year. Living in a suite with a kitchen, I have more reason to go off campus once in a while. That being said, I still typically go off campus only once a week. It is entirely feasible to live on campus. I work on campus, have a nice variety of places to eat, can acquire other non-food necessities at The Corner Store, Sol's or Crossroads and never run out of things to entertain myself with. In fact, my significant trips off-campus (meaning I went somewhere besides Walmart), are so rare that I'm usually compelled to write about them.
So when thinking about what you want, keep in mind that car or no car, bike or no bike, getting around campus or venturing off has some flexibility. It's also easy to live comfortably entirely within the borders of RIT. The great balance of an isolated campus and well-developed surrounding area is almost unique to RIT, in my experience. Finding such a satisfying level of flexibility in transportation on a college campus is rare. And when it comes to getting from Point A to Point B, flexibility is king.