All colleges go to great lengths to keep their students safe on campus. They are fully aware of the severe repercussions that could ensue following a security lapse on their premises. However, that doesn’t mean you should get complacent when it comes to your own safety. When it comes to staying safe, you’ll find that most of the safety tips for students in college are very basic. The truth is basic college safety tips work most of the time. It’s often the little things we do or don’t do that keep us safe from harm. We put ourselves at risk by ignoring them.
These eight college safety tips will help keep you safe on or around campus.
8 College Safety Tips
Safety tips for students in college can be related to physical safety as well as cyber safety. The first four college safety tips are related to physical safety. The next four are related to cyber safety.
1. Familiarize Yourself With The Campus Security Resources
Every college has a campus security office, which is responsible for all things related to student safety on campus. You’ll find their contact details and office hours on your college website. Get in touch with them and find out what programs and resources they have available for students.
Ask them if there are any emergency phone stations around campus and get their locations. Also, ask about suggested secure routes for those times when you will be getting back late at night.
Most important of all, find out how to get in touch with them in case of an emergency. Make sure to save the emergency phone numbers in your phone so you have it handy. You never know when you may need the phone number and you don’t want to be searching for it in an emergency.
2. Exercise Caution After Dark
Campuses look very safe during the day with hundreds of students milling around the place. However, the very same place will be dark and deserted at night. Unfortunately, you can’t always avoid staying out after dark. You may have late-night classes or prefer to study in the library before your exams. If you have a part-time job, it may involve getting back late a couple of days a week. Regardless of the reason, you must be extra careful after dark, especially if you’re alone.
The most important night-time safety tip is to avoid looking like an easy target. Don’t look nervous or afraid. Walk confidently and purposely to show that you’re familiar with the area and you know where you’re going.
It helps to stay aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after dark. Avoid listening to music with your headphones or talking on your phone. These can distract you and you may not notice potential danger signs. Keep your phone handy though in case you need to make an emergency call.
Avoid poorly lit, isolated pathways even if they are the shorter routes back to the dorm. It’s better to walk a few minutes more and reach safely.
If possible, make plans with another friend to walk back together.
3. Be Careful Getting Into Your Car
As a rule, always try and park in a well-lit parking lot and lock your car after you get out. You may not have anything worth stealing in your car but leaving the door unlocked is an invitation to potential predators.
If you’re getting into your vehicle after dark, always have your keys in your hand and ready to open the door as soon as you reach the car. You don’t want to be fumbling around looking for the keys if a stranger is approaching you.
Don’t be distracted or on your phone while walking toward your car. Look around and assess the situation before getting to your vehicle.
4. Carry A Pepper Or Mace Spray
A pepper spray can be very effective at deterring a potential attacker. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it but just knowing that you have it can make you feel more confident. If you do carry pepper spray, make sure to keep it handy and learn how to use it the correct way.
First, find out if it is legal to carry on in your state. States vary in terms of what type of personal defense equipment is legal. If it’s illegal to carry pepper spray in your state, find out what you can carry legally. Here are some other safety items that you might consider carrying as well.
5. Never Leave Your Laptop Lying Around In A Public Place
Almost all spaces around campus are shared by many students at a time. Whether you’re studying in the library or sitting in the cafeteria, it’s a bad idea to leave your laptop open and wander off even for a while. An open, unattended laptop is an invitation to anyone to access your private information. This can be used for just about any purpose including identity theft.
When you’re sharing a public space with others, it’s always a good practice to set a password-protected lock screen. That way, no one except you can access the laptop’s contents. Most important of all, don’t share the password with anyone.
6. Use Strong Passwords For All Your Accounts
Choosing strong passwords is key to keeping your accounts safe. Those days of using ‘admin123’ as a password are long gone. Using a combination of your birth year, month, and date or your mother’s maiden name is not good enough either. Today hackers can crack those obvious passwords within a few minutes.
The strongest passwords include a combination of upper and lower-case numbers, numbers, and assorted symbols. Cyber security experts strongly recommend using different passwords for different accounts and even for different gadgets. This limits the risks in case any one of your accounts is compromised.
7. Don’t Overshare On Social Media
Social media is truly a dual-edged sword. It helps you stay in touch with family and friends but it also gives strangers a window into your personal life. It tells potential stalkers and scammers where you live, whether you live alone, and which places you frequent. This makes you vulnerable to dangerous predators.
Be smart about what and how you share on social media. Set your social media profiles to private or limit access especially if you share personal photographs. Disable location services and avoid geotagging your photographs as these make it easy to find out your location.
8. Watch Out For Phishing Scams
Phishing scams have become very common. You may receive an email informing you that your credit card or bank account has been frozen because of some illegal activity. You need to click a link to reactivate your account. Or you may receive an email asking you to provide your Social Security number or phone number in order to receive some sort of gift.
Providing your personal details or clicking links in phishing emails allows the scammer access to information they can use any way they want. They can use the information to use your credit card or take a loan against your name. As a rule, never click any links or reply to emails from unknown senders. If you’re not sure whether the email is actually from your bank or credit card issuer, call and ask them.
It does help to keep these safety tips in mind during your years in college and beyond. When it comes to your personal safety, you can never be too careful.