5 Smart Tips to Remain Safe in College
If you’re entering campus life for the very first time, it can feel like an entirely new world. That can sometimes be scary. But learning to stay safe and make smart choices is a part of growing up, and this learning can begin in your college years. Safety can take a number of forms, from your health to your professional life. Taking care of yourself and looking after your needs is crucial for living a fun, enriching life in college.
If you’re looking to learn about how to keep yourself safe and protected in your new campus environment, there are a few health and safety tips you can devote a little extra attention to. Learning how to stay safe in college isn’t just about protecting yourself in the moment — it’s about building good habits for years to come.
No matter the situation, it’s important to get to know your campus well. You never know what could happen at any given moment, and it’s always a good idea to know your environment. Learn where the campus security office is, where campus security vehicles tend to park and where the most populated areas of your campus are. Have a map on hand, and study it in your beginning weeks of school so you can become aware of your surroundings.
When you go out at night, it can be helpful to use the buddy system. It makes sure you and your friends are never alone and that you have each other’s backs in case anything goes awry — even if the most it involves is stumbling home and losing a shoe.
Sexual health and safety are important throughout all of life, not just on college campuses. Learning to practice healthy communication in every sexual relationship — from the casual to the committed — is crucial for your peace of mind and bodily well-being. If you’re sexually active, you should use contraceptives and protection to stop the spread of STIs, and go for STI testing at least once per year, or more often if that makes you more comfortable.
Part of practicing mature, adult relationships is learning to protect yourself and advocate for your needs. Whether you’re participating in hookup culture or maintaining more slow-moving relationships, safe sex is the way of the future, and it’s better for everyone involved.
From budgeting to ensure all your needs are met to protecting your credit and identity, your financial life is often tied to your safety and well-being.
As a college student, you’re experiencing more independence, which can include greater financial freedom. Making sure to check your credit report regularly can help you keep an eye on your financial standing and stay on top of any potential credit fraud. Being responsible with your credit usage and credit card information can help you maintain your financial health and safety.
College campuses and dorm buildings can often spread colds and other illnesses like wildfire. There’s even a stereotype on many college campuses that when one person gets the flu, everyone else gets it soon after. With the COVID-19 pandemic now an issue, protecting your health is more important than ever.
If someone you know is sick, keep your distance. Follow all health and sanitation guidelines on your campus and in public — including social distancing and wearing a mask wherever you go. If you feel symptoms coming on, get on top of things sooner rather than later. Visit your university’s health center or the hospital if you feel under the weather, and avoid going to classes or events if you know or suspect you’re sick.
Taking preventative measures like eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can also help you avoid illness by keeping your immune system strong.
Drinking and partying is a part of the college experience for many. However, continued excess isn’t beneficial for your health or safety. Alcohol or drug use and excessive drinking can lead to poor decision-making and health issues, so it’s best to keep drinking and partying to a minimum.
If you do choose to indulge, do so responsibly and stay in one place for the remainder of the evening. Never under any circumstances get behind the wheel if you’re under the influence.
Staying safe and protected in college is an important part of cultivating a meaningful college experience. Figuring out how to stay safe in college is a learning experience, and you’ll find new ways to protect yourself so you can learn, make new friends and have plenty of fun along the way.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is an experiential education writer with a love for learning. Read more of her work for students and educators on her blog, Syllabusy.