Good-byes are never easy – especially when you’re sending your college student off to school. Although you’ve raised them to be strong, capable adults, the thought of them not being under your protection can leave you feeling anxious. While college campuses have safety precautions in place, it’s important for students to be equipped to keep themselves safe while away at college.
We consulted Mark Mayer, a 7th-degree black belt, to compile this list of top safety tips you need to share with your college student. Mark’s passion has always been training and self-defense. Several years ago, Mark authored his first book titled, "College Safe." The book details how college-age girls can take the necessary precautions to help themselves remain safe while away at college. The book may be downloaded for free on his homepage here!
Read through these safety tips for college students and share with someone you love:
1. Stay Alert
In general, if you're concerned with your personal safety never let your guard down. It’s important to always have a high level of vigilance and to trust red flags (your instincts). If you are at a party, always keep an eye on your drink and don’t drink beyond your threshold of tolerance.
Additionally, don’t let electronics steal your attention. In 2018, it was reported that the average adult spends an average of 3 hours and 35 minutes per day on mobile devices. And by 2019, it's predicted that phone usage will surpass TV as the past-time that takes up the most minutes in your day. While it’s common to check your phone in uncomfortable situations, use it to kill time or even listen to music, becoming immersed in your smartphone can actually be dangerous.
If your absence of mind is noticed, you may be more likely to become the target of a robbery or other crime. When walking the campus, working out or riding the bus, be sure you use your phone in moderation and only keep one earbud in or the volume set to low.
2. Use the Buddy System
Although we learned the “buddy system” in kindergarten, its benefits extend into adulthood. Going out on a first date? Don’t put yourself in an isolated situation – stay somewhere public. Grab a friend when going off campus or let someone know where you’re going and when you intend on coming back.
You and your roommates can be helpful resources to each other in this way. Share your class schedules with them and make a habit of letting each other know if you’ll be gone for the night. It’s also helpful and comforting if you get to know your roommates and neighbors. This is an especially important tip if you’re living on your own for the first time.
3. Lock Up
In a recent study about college crime, it was reported that out of 27,500 criminal incidents that happened on college campuses, 12,300 of them were burglaries. While your dorm room or shared apartment is seemingly safe, with any shared space, you’re at risk for theft.
It’s wise to keep personal items in your dormitory under lock and key - even if leaving for just a few minutes. Also, keep your door and windows locked and have a room safe for personal valuables. Don't leave cash or valuable items out in the open. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to let your guard down if you're comfortable in your living environment.
4. Know Your Resources
Did you know that most college campuses offer some sort of safety resources? In addition to the resources your school offers, be sure to know your campus security telephone number.
Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to have location sharing turned on and shared with a parent or trusted friend. Always opt-in to get campus alert texts sent to your phone. It’s the fastest way to find out whenever there’s an incident on campus.
5. Be Prepared
Part of being prepared, is being aware of what could go wrong. In case you need to become physically defensive against an attacker, knowing a few self-defense moves can be helpful. Your school might even offer self-defense classes for free on campus or at a local community center!
Make it a group activity. Grab a couple of your friends or roommates and attend a class together. Even if you look or feel goofy at the moment, it’s not going to hurt to learn a couple of tips from the experts. For additional physical safety, consider carrying self-defense items, like pepper spray, on your key ring or purse.
Keeping your car in good condition should also be a priority. You never want to be stranded alone without gas or experiencing avoidable car trouble.
6. Protect Your Privacy
We’ve already covered how to protect your physical space, but what about your social space? Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter are great for sharing updates and connecting with friends, but public accounts allow strangers to easily access personal details and plans.
To ensure your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, set your accounts to private and avoid tagging your location in your posts. Guard the information you share and keep in mind that anyone could be watching.
Whether you’re a college student looking to stay safe or a parent with your student’s best interest in mind, share these safety tips with someone who could benefit!