For the majority of students, going to college is their first experience with unsupervised living. Away from the prying eyes of parents or guardians, they get their first real taste of freedom. This is what college is all about, and for most, it creates an unforgettable and happy experience.

However, crime exists everywhere, even on college campuses. Young adults away from home for the first time can quickly find themselves in high-risk situations they have never been exposed to before. It’s easy to see why deciding on a plan of action and following a few precautions can keep you safe from danger.

In this article, we’ve created a list of tips to help you remain safe from damaging events while still enjoying yourself.

1. Get to Know Your School’s Public Safety Office

All schools have campus security offices, and you should make it a point to familiarize yourself with the one on your campus. Within a day or two of arriving at school, make sure you visit the office in person and obtain the phone number and hours. Find out what services are available to you and how to utilize them when needed. These may include emergency phone stations, safety maps, or escort services.

2. Be Aware When Getting in Your Car

First off, you should always lock up your car and engage the alarm each time you get out. When you arrive back at your car, have your keys in your hand and be ready to unlock your vehicle. Approach at an angle where you have a good view of what’s going on around the car. Take a look around to make sure nobody is hiding under the car or in the backseat before you get in.

Try to park in a brightly lit area close to other vehicles and buildings. If you are nervous about leaving a class late at night and going to your car, call campus security and request an escort. That is what they are there for.

3. Lock up Your Stuff

Just because the dorms feel safe doesn’t mean they are, so make sure you lock your room every time you leave. You will also want to ensure that you can secure your windows if you are on the first floor. Keep your drapes or shades closed to keep your valuables from the prying eyes of would-be thieves.

It’s a good idea to invest in a safe to store valuables like your laptop, jewelry, cash, or medicines.

4. Consider Investing in Non-Lethal Weapons

If you have to do a lot of walking alone, a few safety supplies might be in order. Stun guns are great, but they are not legal in every state. However, mace and pepper spray are typically easy to obtain and can be just as effective. Whistles are also a handy item that you can use to draw attention to yourself.

You will want to keep these supplies accessible. They won’t do you any good at the bottom of your backpack or purse. Put them on a key ring and fasten them to a bracelet or lanyard to wear every time you need to walk someplace by yourself.

5. Take a Self-Defense Course

It can be very liberating and empowering when you know how to protect your person. If you travel alone, or even with a group, mastering the art of self-defense can help you feel more confident and safer. You don’t need to be a master ninja either. A few lessons from a qualified instructor can teach you the necessary skills to protect yourself.

Sign up for a class near you. There may even be some on campus. You could also ask a friend or your roommate to take the course with you if you aren’t comfortable attending alone.

6. Map Your Route Ahead of Time

No matter where you are going, make sure you know how to get there. Avoid looking lost or confused and having to peer at a map. If you are in an unfamiliar area and you do get lost, stop what you are doing and go into a business or shop to ask for help and regroup.

Avoid wearing headphones as they can distract you from getting to your destination. Try to walk along paths and roadways where there are plenty of other pedestrians and avoid taking any paths that seem overgrown or deserted. Even if you think you might have found a shortcut, it’s best to stick with familiar routes. Another tip is to download a campus map to your phone, so you can use your GPS to navigate your way around.

 7. Stay Private on Social Media Sites

You’ve grown up with social media. It connects you with your family and friends all over the world and is an essential part of your daily activities. However, now that you are out on your own, you should be more aware than ever of strangers or predators who could be viewing your profile. Don’t Geotag your photos or announce your comings and goings on social media. Potential thieves will strike if they know your apartment or dorm room is unattended, and those who are stalking you could quickly discover your location by a few carelessly chosen words.

Always set your accounts to private and don’t friend people you don’t know well. Disable location services on your social media apps and be aware of everything you share. Remember that when something gets shared on social media, it can be tough to get rid of it.

8. Travel in Packs

When going to parties on or off-campus, make sure you attend with a few trusted buddies. Not only is there safety in numbers, but you will likely have a better time. The idea is for everyone to keep track of each other and make sure you each get home safe.

Arrive together and decide on a time to leave together. Stay in touch throughout the evening to make sure everyone is doing OK. If, for some reason, you do get separated from your companions, call an UBER or LYFT to get you home safely. If you are right on campus, you can also request an escort from campus security to avoid walking back to your room alone.

Final Thoughts

College is a time to have fun and try out your new independence. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where safety and security is such a primary consideration, but it is. The trick to making sure you have an enjoyable college experience and stay safe is self-awareness. By committing yourself to following these safety tips every day, you can avoid being afraid and instead feel empowered.


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