5 Tips for Staying Safe on Campus at Night

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In 2013, there were 27,600 crimes reported against persons and property at public and private colleges, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As a student, being vigilant about putting safety first and being aware of your surroundings is critical, This is especially important at night when your sight is reduced and it’s easier to be robbed or attacked.

Being safe on campus, however, doesn’t have to be a challenge. Use the resources to ward off predators and keep yourself out of harm’s way at all times.

Don’t Walk Alone

It’s almost impossible to avoid walking on campus at night, especially when studying for finals or out with your friends. Luckily, there’s a solution: find a buddy that you trust or, better yet, a group of friends that can all walk together. There’s safety in numbers, even if it’s just two of you.

Many schools have even eliminated their need for the buddy system with safety transportation that brings students around campus at night: “Many campuses install special security programs for students who want to travel home late. UC-Berkeley has a student-run security system called BearWalk, where between dusk and 4 a.m. students can call the free system and be escorted across the campus safely to their front door. After 4 a.m., a night shuttle runs until daybreak. If you’re lucky, you may even get a ride in one of the security buggies,” says Emily Burt, contributor for U.S. News.

If your school doesn’t offer this, you can always call campus security and get someone to escort you.

Be Responsible for Someone Else

It may sound strange, but being responsible for a good friend makes you more aware. HerCampus.com explains how this works: “Pick a friend to check in with every once in a while. Make sure that she’s safe and ask her to do the same for you. Then, at the end of the party, leave together and text each other when you’re both home safe. Being responsible for someone else and having her be responsible for you will keep you both safe throughout the night.”

Devise a plan to meet in a designated place at a certain time if someone does not respond to phone messages.  This system can be a valuable tool for any large campus event, like football games, dances, festivals and more. For added safety, establish a routine every time you leave your dorm or apartment: make sure you lock the doors and power down all appliances and electronics. Then, make sure you put your cell phone and keys in your pocket or in your purse so you don’t forget them. Having a security checklist will ensure you don’t forget important items, keep you safe on campus, and keep your dorm or apartment safe while vacant.

Use Non-Lethal Self-Defense Products

It may sound scary, but non-lethal self-defense products like pepper spray or a TASER may bring you peace of mind and allow you to protect yourself if attacked. The best part is, many of them are small enough to fit in your bag or purse, and more often than not, very budget friendly.

Talk to an expert about the options available and find one that’s comfortable for you and easy to use in an emergency situation.

Walk in Familiar Places at Night

Reduce the chance of being caught off guard in a place you aren’t familiar with by staying on streets you know when walking at night. Take well-travelled routes and know where the emergency blue lights on campus are located, suggests RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Be alert for other people and always have your keys in your hand ready to be used to quickly get into your dorm or car.

Despite the frequency of campus crimes, your college or university doesn’t have to be an unsafe place. Give yourself peace of mind by walking with friends, keeping a non-lethal self-defense weapon on you, and staying in familiar places. Don’t forget to take advantage of resources like UC-Berkley’s BearWalk—they’re available to you for a reason, so use them whenever possible.

6 Tips to Set-up Your Dorm Room to Reduce Stress and Maximize Productivity

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College is a fun and exciting experience; you’re away from home, there’s lots of new people and countless events and activities. Remember, however, that you need to prioritize your studies, after all, you’re there to get an education. The way you organize your dorm room can help you perform better in your classes, but you have to set up an effective study space. Follow these tips to organize your dorm room to reduce stress and boost productivity.

 

Communicate With Your Roommate(s)

In the average dorm room, each student has about 96 square feet of space, that means you’re spending a lot of time in close quarters with someone you barely know. Open up the lines of communication early. Don’t claim the bed by the window just because you show up first on move-in day. Talk to your roommate about his or her preferences and concerns and communicate yours as well.

You may also find that you have different priorities and lifestyles. Maybe one of you is a morning person, or you may be more introverted or extroverted than your roommate. If you like to get up early and your roommate likes to sleep in, try to be considerate and be quiet while he or she is sleeping. Also, there’s no reason you can’t make time for your studies and the social aspects of college, but you have to be diligent about making a schedule and sticking to it. You may need to work with your roommate to designate certain times of the day for homework and studying and other times for being social.

 

Study at Your Desk, Not in Bed

Your bed looks very inviting when you’ve got 30+ pages of your textbook to read, but unless you go to the library or a study group outside of your dorm room, try to do all of your studying, school work and reading at your desk. When you study in bed, it’s easier to zone out or fall asleep, especially when you’re reading dry, or overly-technical material. Your bed should be the place where you rest and recharge; lugging your textbooks or laptop into bed sends your body mixed signals and studies shows using technology in bed can affect your quality of sleep.

 

Organize Your Desk

Organization is easier said than done when you have a dorm room that doubles as a kitchen, living area and study space. When it comes to your desk, however, try to keep it as organized and uncluttered as possible. “When your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus,” according to Erin Doland from unclutterer. “The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information.”

A clean, organized desk helps you feel calm and focused on the task at hand. It also helps you keep track of important materials like study guides, notes and assignments, which is helpful when you’re juggling projects between different classes.

 

Reduce Distractions

This is where communicating with your roommate is key. He or she may like to listen to music or have the TV on while doing schoolwork but you may like it quiet. Can you find a solution that works for both of you? Also, consider limited noise and distractions while studying for tests. When you study, create a test-like environment: sit at your desk, try not to use your books or other references and reduce the amount of background noise, you may also want to time yourself if you know you will have a limited amount of time to take the test. This tactic is especially helpful when studying for Math tests. “A common mistake is for students to work on Math problems in too relaxed a posture,” according to USATestPrep. “They should be sitting at a desk, with minimal distractions, and working the problems exactly as if they were testing.”

 

Make the Most of Your (Limited) Space

Now that we’ve talked about how to set your room up to study, which should be your first priority, let’s talk about maximizing your limited living space. Most of the furniture will be provided by the school, but you can bring some additional shelving or plastic bins to create more storage space. Plastic bins can be especially useful in the bathroom (if you have your own) to store toiletry items so you’re not fighting over drawer space.

You can bunk your beds to create more floor space, but if you’d prefer not to, considering lifting or raising your bed to create additional storage space under your bed. Some students raise their beds high enough to fit their desk underneath, which creates enough space for a couch for lounging and relaxing. Make sure you check with your resident advisor before you do any manual labor on your room or furniture.  

 

Keep Your Space Neat

I know this might be your first time away from home, which means you don’t have your mom around to tell you to make your bed and pick up after yourself. Go ahead and enjoy your newfound freedom, but remember, there’s at least one other person in your room. While you don’t need to be a neat freak, your roommate may not appreciate it if you leave your things all over the room, so try to be considerate.

Also, talk to your roommate about your belongings. If you’re not OK with him or her using your stuff, make sure you let them know. He or she may feel the same way, so you can avoid any issues if you discuss this ahead of time.

 

Part of keeping your room clean has to do with designating specific areas for things like studying, lounging and relaxing and hanging out. Chances are you and your roommate may reorganize your room a few times during the course of the school year. As long as you have a dedicated, organized study space, you can play around with the rest of the room and figure out what works best for everyone. Living in a dorm room may be a big adjustment at first, but with some communication and planning, you can make the most out of the small space. Follow these tips to have a more organized, stress-free living environment so you can enjoy the other, more fun aspects of college. Remember, you need to focus on your studies, but after that, have fun and enjoy the experience.