Going off to college is an exciting time and should be one of the best experiences of your life. You may for the first time be living away from home in a new and unfamiliar city surrounded largely by people of your own age. However, along with packing your books and underwear, you should not forget that you are moving to a whole new environment and with this precautions should be taken. Doing your research is vital.
In 2015 the number of on-campus crimes per 10,000 full-time students was 18.5.
In 2015 there were 27,500 criminal incidents against persons on campuses.
Colleges are not inherently dangerous places, but they are a unique environment that come with their own set of challenges that you should be prepared for.
There are a number of precautions you can take to help keep yourself and your friends safe, and many of them are simple.
Indeed, whilst you may be surrounded by people your own age you still need to take the same care you would at home, such as making sure doors and windows are locked.
Take time to learn the campus and local area. You may well be living there for four years or more so it’s worth a little internet searching. Spot landmarks and get your bearings. You might struggle to get home if your phone runs out and you have only just moved to the area. Spare cash would help if you needed to grab a taxi in such a scenario.
Get to know the area around where you are staying and the areas you will likely be frequenting, especially those you may be visiting at night such as bars or clubs. Whilst the place might be perfectly pleasant there is also likely to be a few areas that require you to be more alert. College websites will offer their own tips tailored to their specific campus so do take a quick look, these resources can be invaluable
If you are going out alone then think about letting a friend or family member know where you are planning on being and keep in touch. Building on this, let them know you have made it home safe, especially at night. Becoming good friends with your roommates is ideal as you can go out and come home together. Consider walking with friends at night and DO NOT become distracted by technology such as being glued to your phone or having headphones in. To avoid a potential situation or act fast you will need to be aware of what is going on. Consider using Uber or taxi services. Some colleges even offer escort services to accompany travel at night: use them! It is why they are here. Input the number into your phone’s speed dial.
Watch What You Drink
Avoid becoming too intoxicated, especially early on when you are unfamiliar with the campus. Stay with friends and never walk alone drunk at night. Keep watch of your drinks whilst you are out. Make sure you see your drinks opened and poured and never leave them unattended to avoid anything nasty being slipped in
Security Service Contacts
All college campuses should have security services, usually with emergency and non-emergency contact details. Put these into your phone and call whenever you feel threatened or unsafe. They won’t mind a trip out even if it turns out to be nothing, it is their job.
Consider Taking Self-Defense Classes
If you do find yourself becoming the victim of attack then there could be things to help you deal with such a situation. Self-defense classes are being offered by more and more colleges internally and you should be able to find information on the college website.
Inquire if you cannot find information. If they do not run their own classes then they may be able to suggest local courses that are running. Some community centers and YMCA groups host classes.
Carry a Pepper Spray
Consider carrying an alarm of some type or can of pepper spray on you. Alarms are cheap, also often offered in campus welcome packs. There are even phone apps that do the same basic thing for free or others that can send texts to friends at the push of a button. A simple whistle would even do the job.
Pepper spray is legal to be carried in all U.S. states (although do check specifics as some states have individual laws governing their use and size that can be carried). Traditionally pepper spray has come in larger canisters that were impractical to carry unless you had a fairly large bag on you, making them impractical at times. However, pepper sprays have in recent years been marketed towards students in particular and are worth looking at for their features. Pepperface sells sleek, lightweight and stylish pepper sprays that can easily fit into a jacket or purse. It means that it can be carried with you in all situations and costs just $27 and have models aimed at both men women - everyone should equally be looking at their own safety.
Take Care of Your Health
This is perhaps one of the most understated safety tips going into college. College can be a difficult experience for many and most struggle at least at one point in their time - being away from home and the new pressures and workload - you must take care of yourself. Whether this is mental health, not eating very well, or not getting enough sleep, take care of your body! Over time neglecting it will cause greater issues. If you do find yourself having trouble then do get in contact with the college and make full use of their services. They usually provide mental health services and can point you in the right direction.
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