Throughout high school, you went to school with kids you had known for years. You lived at home with one or both parents, and your school was probably located within a few miles of your house. But once you go off to college, everything will change. You won’t know most of the other students – or maybe you won’t know anyone at all! You’ll also be living away from home, in most cases, and free to come and go as you please.
For most young adults, that’s kind of the whole point of going away to college! But since a new, unfamiliar situation can also be dangerous, keep these safety tips in mind when you go away to college.
Familiarize yourself with your campus. If you can, it’s best to visit a few times before moving day. If not, study up by accessing resources online. Look up a campus map, print it out, and mark all of your class locations (as well as others you will visit regularly, like the cafeteria, book store, and rec center). Learn the locations of campus call boxes. Familiarize yourself with bus routes, so that you know the best ways to get around at night.
Set up a buddy system. If you’re going out at night, always tell your roommate where you’re going and what time you plan to be back.
Don’t go out alone. If you’re going out, it’s better to walk with a group of friends. Yes, even to a night class.
Lock up. Always lock your dorm room door, your car, and even your bike. Don’t store valuables in your car.
Program emergency numbers into your phone. In the event that you are incapacitated by a car accident or some other event, emergency personnel can bypass your screen lock and call your contacts.
“Arm” yourself. Wear a whistle, carry pepper spray, or take a self-defense course. It’s better to avoid situations in which you have to defend yourself, but in the event that you do, at least you’ll be better prepared.
Don’t drink alcohol. We hate to sound like a drag, but the drinking age is 21 for a reason. Younger, inexperienced drinkers can have too much without even realized they’ve over-indulged, and becoming inebriated in an unfamiliar location puts you at a serious disadvantage.
It’s easier to prevent an unsafe situation than it is to escape one. Having said that, keep your phone charged and within reach, and call 911 or campus police at the first sign of any trouble.