15 ways to survive college

by Melanie Parrish

In light of the multitude of recent school shootings, many people are wondering how they can keep themselves safe in college. While you can not exactly stop a crazed gunman from bursting into your classroom, there are plenty of fairly basic things that you can do to keep yourself and your friends out of potentially dangerous situations. After asking several college students and graduates, I came up with a list of the top 15 things that you can do:

  1. Stay alert. Keep your head up and know what is going on around you. Do not walk around completely absorbed in your phone or iPod.

  2. Know your limits. If you find yourself in a situation that feels unsafe or makes you uncomfortable, do not hang around.

  3. Do not let strangers into the dorm. If your door does not have a peephole, consider getting one installed.

  4. Be indoors when you are supposed to be. Do not go sneaking out at two in the morning. If you have to sneak around, that’s typically a sign that you should not be doing it (unless it is April Fool’s Day. Then it’s just fun).

  5. Let a friend or roommate know where you’re going to be and when you expect to return if you are going out. Do not, however, post notes on your door, on their car, or in other public places.

  6. There is safety in numbers. Everyone has heard this before, but it’s true. You have a smaller chance of something happening to you if you are surrounded by friends than if you are alone.

  7. Stay sober, or have a designated driver and be aware of how much you are drinking. And hey, make sure you are 21 first.

  8. Watch your stuff. Don’t run the risk of taking a bathroom break and returning to find your phone or laptop gone.

  9. Lock the door and windows of your dorm room at night. Don’t prop open doors or put tape over locks.

  10. Choose your school wisely. A school with a reputation as a “party school” is likely to have more problems than a quiet campus will.

  11. Know how to defend yourself. Consider taking a self-defense course. If you don’t have the time for this, carry pepper spray or something similar. There are also products that combine the spray with an air horn. Don’t feel silly or paranoid for carrying it! Check to make sure that it is allowed on your campus first.

  12. Know what safety offerings your school has. If there is an emergency notification system (email/text alerts), use it! Some schools will also have an escort system or shuttles if you need to get home late.

  13. Put all emergency numbers in your phone.

  14. Stay in areas with a lot of people. A crime is less likely to happen in an area with a bunch of people around.

  15. Have enough money for a taxi and a phone call if needed. Don’t end up stranded somewhere. Keep your cell phone charged.

So there you have it. 15 pretty simple ways to take precautions against dangerous situations. Most of these won’t even involve a significant change in your day-to-day life, so there’s really not much reason not to do them! Like I said: you can’t stop some things from happening, but you can do something to prepare for if it does.

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