Entering College Safety Tips
Going to college is incredibly exciting for students leaving home for the first time! Now away from home, it’s time to meet new people, make friends, and venture out in the world. During the first few weeks almost every student living on campus is in the same situation—not knowing anyone. Take this great opportunity to meet all the new faces you can! That being said, always keep a few things in the back of your mind. For a lot of students, this is their first time away from their parents; a different and potentially liberating experience. Being that you may be in a new town, with all new faces, and somewhat on your own for the first time, you need to thing about safety.
I’m not saying go ‘Rambo’ and keep a butcher knife, but just take some basic precautions to keep safe, for the present and future. Remember that unexpected things can, and probably will, happen. That is why you should always be prepared. I know that when I am at my parents’ house, someone trying to hurt me is furthest from my mind. But in college, you have to look out for yourselves. Some general rules of thumb that you should keep in mind are:
- If ever in an uncomfortable situation, trust your gut and remove yourself from the situation or threat. Don’t worry about how awkward or “uncool” that may make you feel.
- Make sure to stay in groups when out at night, even when on campus. This is a big one! I personally don’t like my girlfriend to go out without pepper spray in her purse. Sounds silly, but you never know.
- Some of the most unsafe places are where we feel the most comfortable. A strategy that I’ve always done unconsciously is to learn the layout and exits in a new location. That way I can remove myself if need be.
- When entering your dorm, never hold the door open for anyone you don’t know.
I live in the south, where holding doors open for others is standard practice. That last one on the list may seem rude at first, but it keeps the housing facilities more safe for everyone and the RA’s off your tail. For those who don’t know yet, RA stands for resident advisor. Basically these are upperclassmen that live on each hall. The best comparison I can think of for an RA’s is a camp counselor; they lay down the law but are also there for support. I do want to stress the point of not holding open doors though, especially for the safety of young women. I remember a situation that happened in my freshman year residence hall in which a student held the door for an older fellow who had been stalking a girl who lived in the dorm. She was very lucky to come out of it unscathed. But by being “polite,” that student put the girl in real danger. It gave her quite a fright to say the least. So in short, always be prepared and expect the unexpected. You may thank yourself for it one day.