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Mar 2, 2013
College Life

Regardless of where you live or attend school, safety should be an area of concern at all times. Crime can happen anywhere, at any time, and on any campus - it's important to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert to prevent falling victim to any kind of criminal situation.If you're nervous about going off to college on your own for the first time and your safety and well being, read the tips below to help keep you informed and alert.

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1) Know your acquaintances and your surroundings: First and foremost, college can be really exciting and new for you. You may be meeting tons of people with personality traits that you've never even seen before. While you may have a tight-knit group of close friends back home that you can trust 100%, that may not always be the case in college. Since college is all about finding yourself and meeting new people, you should always be open- but alert to every person you meet. If something feels uncomfortable to you, don't feel pressured to do it or to go anywhere you don't feel like you want to go. This isn't a popularity contest, and no one's judging you. If they do, it's time to move on to another group. There are hundreds of kids on campus who will make your college experience amazing without trying to change who you are.If you do make friends with a group of people that you get along great with, hang out with them and stay open to meeting new people at parties and events. Be careful to never put yourself in unsafe situations, and make sure you have a friend or two that you can trust when you go out at night or venture off-campus. If you have to walk back to your room in the dark, make sure you stay as close to well-lit areas as possible where a lot of other people pass through. Try not to walk alone at night by yourself, and if you have to, make sure you let someone know where you are and where you're going. Text them when you get to where you need to be, and text them as well when you're leaving.

2) Don't trust EVERYONE you meet - Living in a residence hall is awesome! There's so many other students in the hall and RA's who do a great job of making you feel comfortable and monitoring the hall. The problem is that you get so comfortable that you feel like nothing could go wrong. And, as I don't think any high-level violence will happen inside your hall, there are some cases of petty theft and broken belongings of students who leave their room and leave the door unlocked. If you want to protect your belongings and your room, lock it when you leave, every time. Even if you and your other floor mates are great friends who are always in and out, if there's no one in your room, it should be locked.

3) Be Responsible - Getting wrapped up in the college experience is awesome - there's so many lively events going on around you and there's always something to do. You may attend some really fun parties where you have a great time meeting new people. And, ultimately, the experience along with your education is what you went to college to encounter. Go out and have fun, but make sure you're being responsible about your safety. It shouldn't be a surprise that I'm going to suggest you not get into the car with strangers or accept rides back to your dorm if you're tired from a long night at a party. Always keep the "buddy" system when you're out going to the bathroom or leaving to go to another location. If someone's being irresponsible, don't get in a car with them and make sure they find another way to get home. You know your limits, don't cross them.

4) Know where to get help when you need it - If you haven't noticed them yet, you will: Those blue shining light poles located practically everywhere on campus, with a telephone booth right under them. These are there for your safety. If at any time you feel threatened, unsafe, or worried about your well being you can go to one of these booths and call Campus Police or Security. There should be a quick-dial button on the phones if not a number pasted right on the phone booth, but you should always have the number of these sources handy to call at any time. If you feel like you don't want to stop and stand at the phone, walk as swiftly as you can to the nearest lit area that's populated. Carrying any type of device to make noise - a whistle, noisemaker, etc will help you alert others around you that something isn't right and that you may need assistance. Even if it's something silly as you tripping over a twig and spraining your ankle, you'll be glad you have something that can alert others when you need help.

5) Don't be a victim of surprise - If you felt like something hasn't been right for a few weeks and there's one person that seems to be giving you trouble, know where to go to report it to faculty or campus security. In most cases, it will be nothing - but in the rare case that it may be something, it's good to have it on record. This way, the campus security will be alerted and keeping a closer eye on the situation. By not saying something when your instincts tell you that you should, you're setting yourself up for a potentially unpleasant experience.Remember to report anything suspicious or unlawful to campus security at any times. If you're worried about being found out, you can submit tips anonymously to stay confidential. Most campuses have services regarding safety, and may even provide their students with escorts when they feel unsafe traveling alone. Most colleges now even have safety courses or mobile/email alerts you can sign up for to receive in real time. If worried, take self defense classes and stay alert of current events around your campus.Do you have any other safety tips on campus? Share them here so that new and returning students can stay informed.

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