Sending the kids off to college can be a stressful experience. Not only is it a major expense for both parent and student, but there are all the worries that come with sending your kids away from the relative safety of home for the first time and hoping that you have given them the knowledge and skills they need to make good decisions on their own. Of course, the biggest concern for most parents is not their choices their own college students will make, but the many dangers they will be confronted with in the outside world. Although you want your kids to make the most of their college experience, you also want them to do so in a manner that ensures they reach graduation unharmed. So here are a few safety tips you’ll definitely want to impart to your kids before they head to campus.
- Use the buddy system. For most kids, this means holding hands while crossing the street, but the same basic principle of safety in numbers can also be applied to the college experience, especially when it comes to social situations like parties. Of course, you’re probably going to insist that your kids stay away from the party scene, but since you can hardly enforce this rule, at least make sure that they know to bring a friend (so they can watch each other’s backs), avoid open drinks, and never walk around campus alone at night.
- Be aware of campus services. Kids should not only be aware that there is campus security, but they should have the number programmed into their cell phones and know where the security office is and where call boxes are located around campus. They should also be aware that most campuses have health services, so if something does happen and they need medical care (or even if they’re just fighting a cold), there is a place they can go to see to their healthcare needs. Plus, most colleges charge a fee for this anyway, so students may as well get their money’s worth.
- Personal safety considerations. It’s not always enough to be wary; sometimes students are going to have to actively avoid trouble or even stand and defend themselves. So before your kids go off to college, enroll them in personal safety courses so that they can learn basic self-defense. You should also consider supplying them with a canister of pepper spray, which will stop an attacker long enough for students to get away.
- Practice fire safety. One of the many things you’ll want to look for when you check out college campuses is evidence of proper fire safety measures (smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, exit signs, etc.). And ask if the dorms do mandatory fire drills. Then suggest that your students test the smoke alarms in their room regularly and participate in fire drills – it could just save their lives.
- Study first! Okay, this falls under the category of “better safe than sorry” rather than personal safety, but since the whole point of attending college is to pass classes and earn a degree, it is important that kids see to their studies before other pursuits (like mixers, pledging, clubs, and parties, for example). It’s true that students who can’t exercise responsibility while away at college can still pursue an MBA or masters of education online at home. But since you probably want them to act like adults at some point, it’s best to push them out of the nest and insist that you’ll only support them so long as they attend to their studies first.