How to Stay Safe on Campus

Going off to college comes with a lot of new territory – a major part being the new-found freedom. Students are clearly enthralled with this concept and often times don’t really know what to do with it. At the very least, they neglect some important elements, such as campus safety. Staying safe on campus is a topic that is endlessly covered, yet not always as well-executed as it should be. Before choosing your college you may want to consider checking out the benefits of an overnight college visit which may help you get a better feel of the campus and how you will need to prepare yoursulf.

Reasons for this are debatable. However, it appears that many students just don’t give much thought to the possible dangers out there since they feel so at ease on campus. While it’s certainly a good thing to be so comfortable in this second home of yours, the independence of living on your own brings up the need for a lot more responsibility, including thinking about the extra pre-cautions you’ll have to take from time to time. You definitely don’t want to constantly feel paranoid and afraid, but you should just keep your wits about you. Making use of this newly wide realm of freedom is great and perfectly natural as long as you acknowledge everything good and bad that comes with it. Before going away to school you may want to take a look at these 5 things to know about off-campus living.

The first step to approaching campus safety is understanding why it’s so important. You probably grew up you entire life with your parents telling you how to be safe and hopefully you’ve taken that advice to heart. However, applying those rules to living on a campus by yourself is a different ballpark. It is vital that you recognize you are in a vastly different world and that you’ll have to think about things you never had to think about before. You may not have a car so there will be a bigger possibility of you having to walk at night. You’re still getting familiar with the town so the chances of getting turned around and lost are higher. You don’t have your parents to count on for making sure all the windows are closed and the doors are locked so you’ll have to remember to double-check on your own.

Since you will most likely be overwhelmed and unsure where to begin with these pre-cautions – in addition to the other tons of stuff you’ll be getting used to with college life – here are a few bits of advice to get you on a helpful path.

Find alternatives to walking alone at night: It will be tempting, it will be easy, but it’s just best not to walk by yourself after dark. When you get out of that evening class at 9:30pm after a long day of exhausting lectures, it’s understandable that you’ll just want to race home and not look back. But in the back of your mind, you’ll probably know that isn’t the smartest thing to do. Especially if you live in an off-campus apartment or house that may not be near the buzzing heart of campus, you’re going to want to avoid walking alone. You never know what could happen, so spending a few bucks on a cab or walking with a friend or classmate is definitely worth it. No matter how confident you are that nothing bad could ever happen to you, just realize that the world isn’t perfect and play it safe.

Pay attention to the school’s text/online alerts: Most colleges have caught on to the social media craze by now and are using that to safety’s advantage. Typically, schools will have a “text alert” system you can sign up for where you will receive a text message from the school any time an unsafe situation has arisen on campus. Similarly, this is often offered via Twitter, Facebook, and email as well. At this point, they’re pretty much making it as easy as possible for you to be aware of possible dangers in your area, so why wouldn’t you sign up? However, signing up isn’t usually the difficult part for students – it’s taking the alerts seriously that tends to be the challenge. It is in our nature to joke and assume such things are being dramatized. In this case, though, give the alerts the attention they deserve. These are the kinds of situations that should not be taken lightly so it is best just to give the school some credit and be careful. Be thankful that you are able to get such a quick heads-up.

Check your locks: Particularly for dorm residents, locking the door doesn’t seem like such a big deal. With all of the easy socializing going on so close to you and the reassurance of so many R.A.’s around, it’s not surprising that keeping the door locked isn’t a top priority. You certainly aren’t expected to keep it locked all the time and isolate yourself from your floormates, but locking it at night and during less busy times of the day is something you must remember to do. Even if it doesn’t seem necessary, it can’t hurt. Why not take such an easy step to protect yourself? If you live off-campus, this is even more important. No matter how distracted you get, no matter how tired you are, no matter how safe you feel – always lock the door behind you. Additionally, double-check that your windows are closed when you leave and when you go to sleep. College campuses have a comforting feeling about them that lead you to believe friendly students like yourself are the only people around, but that is unfortunately not always true. Assume that other, potentially dangerous strangers are out there and avoid keeping your residence too widely open and accessible. Here are a few tips that may help you adjust to dorm life that you may want to check out as well.

Know where local safety resources are and how to use them: Take some time to research what kind of support the university does offer in emergency situations. Many schools have Emergency poles lit up around campus that include a phone that can be used to immediately call the campus police. It would be extremely helpful to not only know where those are, but how they work also. Being near such a resource but not knowing how to use it would be quite upsetting in the case of an emergency. In addition to specifically emergency-related resources, look into some of the simpler things your campus might offer. For instance, bigger colleges tend to have a bus route and/or night shuttles. Learn their stops and times and save their numbers into your phone so you can call if you’re ever in a tough spot and need some quick information.

Colleges know that campus safety is important, so they are ready to guide you. Take advantage of your school’s resources and keep a smart head on your shoulders. It all comes with the new, freedom-filled territory.