Are you preparing to go off to college? College can be one of the most fun, exciting, and transformative times of a person’s life. However, newfound freedoms may also bring with them an increased vulnerability to danger. Unfortunately, personal safety is often overlooked when preparing for college. In this first post of our Off to College Checklist Series, we’ve put together some tips on how to enhance your personal safety as you begin your college journey.
Top 10 Personal Safety Tips for New College Coeds
Follow these ten simple tips to help you get a head start on college safety:
1. Visit your campus’ Security or Safety office
Every college campus has safeguards in place to protect you. Find out what your school offers and use those resources for protection. For example, some colleges provide sober driver services on the weekend or escorts who will walk with you across campus at night. Also, memorize your university’s emergency phone number. Hopefully, you’ll never need it but will be prepared in case you do.
2. Avoid walking alone. Take a friend or two with you.
Walking alone, especially at night, makes you particularly vulnerable. The buddy system is very important to help avoid dangerous situations. Always walk in pairs or groups, so no one is left alone. This may help decrease your odds of being targeted and ensure your safety.
3. Lock all doors always.
It’s worth reiterating that when you’re inside your car, dorm room, apartment, or otherwise: lock the door. Don’t forget to lock up when you leave too. Leaving a door unlocked – even when you’re not there – could make both you and your personal space more vulnerable.
4. Be smart about social media.
Chances are, you have several social media accounts; and while social media is great for sharing our photos, we should be mindful about what we share online—especially with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and online dating apps.
Here are some basic steps to follow when it comes to online personal safety. One is to make sure your location on your smartphone is turned off. Someone may be able to use your location data against you in harmful ways. Also, avoid using location ‘check-in’ features on platforms like Foursquare and Facebook. Another rule is to limit the amount of personal information you include on your profile and in posts – never give away private information, including your phone number or address. It’s also a smart idea to limit your in-app chat features to friends only. This will help keep strangers from fishing for private information. Finally, if you meet someone online, be very careful when meeting them in person. Always meet for the first time in a public place – like a coffee shop – and be sure a friend or family member is aware of your plans and who you are with.
5. Know your campus.
It can be easy to get lost on the sprawling grounds of practically any college campus. Whether you are new to campus or just don’t know which building is where be sure to learn your way around as soon as possible. Before your first day, map out the safest way to get from class to class. Then, take a friend with you for a trial run of your class route so you can walk with extra confidence when school starts.
6. Trust your gut!
Trust your gut instinct – it’s one of the body’s strongest defense mechanisms. If you feel uncomfortable about something, follow that feeling and leave a situation, no matter what everybody else is doing.
7. Communicate plans with friends and family.
If you are going out, be sure to tell someone you trust where you are going and who you will be with. That way, there will be a place to look and a person to contact if they are unable to get in touch with you.
8. Party like a pro.
It is important to be aware that predators exist and to make sure you’re prepared for anything so you can stay safe when it’s party time. Never let your drink out of sight. Don’t accept drinks from anyone. Only drink what you brought, poured, or opened yourself. Also, keep track of how much you are drinking so you don’t go overboard. Always have a trusted friend with you who can help keep you safe just in case. Don’t forget to be that person for others sometimes, too.
9. Honesty may not always be the best policy.
Is your date acting creepy? Do you feel unsafe while out with friends? Is someone giving you an uneasy feeling? Always remember, it is okay to lie to help get you and/or your friends out of an uncomfortable situation. The most important thing is your safety. A little white lie won’t hurt anyone.
10. Always keep your phone charged and with you.
You never know when you might need to make an emergency call or when someone might need to get in touch with you. Before leaving your dorm or apartment, be sure your phone is fully charged and easily accessible. Also, it’s never a bad idea to keep a portable charger on you as a backup just in case. Be sure to add important numbers, like those of family members and the campus police, as emergency contacts into your cell so they’ll always be easy to reach.
In summary, college should be full of fun, excitement, and adventure. You can’t always predict what will happen, but you can be prepared. The best way to enhance your personal safety is to be aware of your surroundings and know how to respond if something does go wrong. We hope this blog has helped better prepare you for a safe and happy college experience. Be sure to take care of yourself and each other!
For more on making the most of your university experience, check out our Off to College: Tips for Women Entering College blog post. Also, don’t miss our Off to College: Tips for Prioritizing Your Female Health blog post. For more on how we can help take care of your gynecologic health in preparation for college, check out the 20s and 30s section of our How GYNs Can Help at Any Stage of Life post.
Caring for women at all stages of life is what HaneyGYN is all about. Whether you’re the parent of a teen who needs gynecology care or in need of care yourself, Dr. Haney is here to help. We take the time to truly get to know you and understand your unique needs to provide personalized, effective care. Learn more about our practice by contacting us today.
HaneyGYN is a female-led, private gynecology practice led by Dr. Katherine Haney. Dr. Haney’s goal is to guide women in good health care through any stage of life. To learn more about our practice, please contact us today.