Heading to college for your first year should be an exciting time, but it can be a little overwhelming, too. For most, it means living away from home for the first time, and while it will be a lot of fun, it does come with its challenges.
It’s essential to consider your safety while at college. Just because you are surrounded by what feels like friendly, trustworthy peers, sadly, that isn’t always the case.
Here are some vital considerations to help you to sensibly manage your safety and the risks associated with living at college. Of course, the more precautions you take, the less you need to worry.
Lock your doors
You must ensure that your dorm room or other living quarters are secured with a proper door lock. Ideally, the main entries to your dorm rooms will feature modern school security door locks for your added peace of mind, but make sure that your individual room is also appropriately secured. Make sure you lock your door when you are alone or while sleeping.
College dorms and apartments should always have security entry systems with features that protect their students. However, if you feel that the security at your college is lacking, don’t be afraid to bring it up with a supervisor.
Know your way around
As soon as you have settled into your room, take the time to familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Find out key points, such as advisory offices, emergency call buttons/phones, and medical assistance hubs.
Also, find out where all emergency exits are, especially in larger lecture halls, and determine whether your lecture halls have door locks that can be activated during a lockdown.
Create a buddy system for parties
It’s easy to get carried away at parties and not want to leave, but it simply isn’t sensible to stay at a party alone. So instead, create a buddy system with your friends and agree that no one will stay at a party alone. If you and your roommate socialise separately, set up a buddy system with other friends, preferably several to cover all bases.
Never walk alone at night
Further on from party advice, your buddy system must extend to being out at night, regardless of what you are doing. Walking around alone at night is essentially asking for trouble. Instead, make reliable friendships with good people who agree and are willing to stick to this plan.
You should also seek to understand which areas of campus are best avoided entirely at night – some may have a higher rate of crime or incidents than others. If you have to go to and from your work at night, arrange to travel with a friend or colleague.
Never loan out your College ID or key card
Your college ID and the keys/key card to your dorm room are yours and yours alone. You have the right to refuse to loan these items out to anyone without explanation.
Avoid becoming inebriated
Everyone knows that, for many students, part of the college experience involves partying and drinking. Still, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do it responsibly. When you go too far and lose control of yourself and your surroundings, you put yourself in harm’s way. This can also be part of your buddy system – to agree to look out for each other and take the other home before things get too messy.
Keep emergency contacts on your phone and planner
Save emergency contacts on your phone. Hospitals can bypass your codes to access your contact details in the event of an emergency.
Also, list important numbers in your planner for easy access.
Always carry some emergency cash
It’s a good idea to keep some emergency cash on you at all times. Even if you carry a credit or debit card, you don’t want to be stuck in a situation that you can’t get out of because your card isn’t working and you don’t have any money. This is especially important at night.
While you don’t want to become hyper-vigilant and stress yourself out unnecessarily, it’s important to remain aware of yourself and your surroundings. These days, it is common to go about your day with headphones blasting music or podcasts, or constantly looking down with your face in your smartphone, but becoming unaware of what’s going on around you can lead to trouble.
Sometimes the only way to avoid a dangerous situation is to react appropriately and quickly, and you have no chance of doing this if you aren’t even present to what’s happening around you. So, consider saving time on your devices for when you are at home or sitting somewhere appropriate.
Your time at college should be a happy and safe chapter of your life, and this is far more likely to be the case if you take sensible precautions to take care of your security. Part of growing up is learning how to manage risks maturely, and living away from home forces you to consider this more than ever before. You can also consider taking self-defence classes and carrying around a whistle or pepper spray – while the hope is that you will never need to use them, they are there in the unlikely event that you do, and can give you some added peace of mind, too.