Top 5 Things Stolen on a College Campus

No one likes to think their things can get stolen, but the fact is, they can. In this day and age, the most common crime is theft, and on a college campus where students are struggling to make ends meet, stealing someone of someone else’s is a tempting way to get by. Personally, of all the things on this list I have had all of them stolen at one point or another, so trust me, it happens. So here is a list of things to keep a close eye on and how to prevent them from ending up as someone else’s.

1.) Electronics. It may seem like common sense, but the amount of students that leave their laptops lying around when they take off to use the restroom is appalling. Think about it; almost everyone in school needs a laptop, so why would you leave yours out in the open for the taking?

In addition, televisions, stereo equipment, cell phones, video games and equipment, iPods, and DVD players are also prime territory, and this is mainly due to the fact that so many kids leave their dorm room unlocked. Instead, make sure to lock your dorm and lock it good. What’s more, make sure that if anyone does get in (or you just “forget” to lock your door) that you’ll know it. Room alarms make sure no one gets in without your permission.  Another way to make sure your stuff won’t be stolen is to have a safe to store your valuables in.

2.) Cash, Credit cards, debit cards and other identification. Yes, I fully understand what a pain in the ass it is to have all this stuff in your dorm room. Many universities won’t let you register for a class without first seeing your driver’s license, birth certificate, high school transcripts, fingerprint identification, voice recognition and proof that you did indeed pay off that speeding ticket from 3 years ago. The sad thing is, I probably even left out some things.

So if you do need to have these papers on hand, make sure they are stored safely. You’ll want to make sure you store them in a safe, only take them out when you absolutely have to use them, and then put them right back in the safe. Oh and don’t leave cash lying around, that’s just stupid.

3.) Bicycles. I’ve had my bike stolen twice. Yes, there were two different bikes, they were both stolen, and one even had a lock on it. Never underestimate the value of a bicycle. Mine were both bought at yard sales, but they were still coveted by someone else bad enough for them to take them. At home, bring your bike inside the dorm. There should be a spot you can store it, and if not I still recommend leaving it in the common room or behind your door (it’s definitely going to be in the way, but it will still be yours).

Another way is to get a seriously heavy-duty bike lock, and make sure the bungee that you would typically just attach to the frame is instead attached to the frame, both tires, and the handlebars. Most crooks will at least become discouraged and move on to your neighbor’s bike.

4.) Textbooks. With the average textbook costing around $150 each, it’s no surprise that they would be a hot commodity. In addition, once that book is gone so are all the notes you may have kept in it and all the highlighting you did in the last chapter. Always keep an eye on your books. Heck this year’s chemistry book can probably easily sell for $120 online, which means someone could stand to make some serious money off that textbook-stuffed backpack of yours.

5.) Jewelry/clothing. It’s the same ol-same ol, but it’s a fact of life. If you have something shiny or expensive, someone else probably wants it. My roommate once let one of her high school friends sleep over on our couch for a week, and one day while she was gone I saw one of my shirts sticking out of her suitcase. I opened it and found half my closet in there. Keep an eye on your stuff and keep it locked up.


How to Protect Yourself While on the Road

When it comes to college, there a few things that are assumed: you won’t be getting much sleep in the next few years, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for home-cooked meals, and you’re probably going to be spending a decent amount of time on the road. The fact is, college students are constantly driving home for holidays, long weekends, school breaks and various other reasons, like being homesick or visiting their significant other. So considering how much time a student will spend traveling, it’s important to make sure they’re being safe in the process.

1.) Be realistic. Believe me, I completely understand the, “If I leave right now I’ll be pulling in around 9:00 tomorrow morning…” mentality. I’ve been there, as I reasoned with myself to make the 12 hour drive to Seattle after a day of classes in Montana. The truth it, this is incredibly dangerous! No amount of redbull is going to keep you safe on the road when you haven’t slept in 26 hours. Your reflexes, perception and judgement are all negatively affected, putting you in a situation for disaster.

2.) Plan your route. It can be tempting to just drive off into the sunset toward your destination, especially with all the GPS devices we have built into most cars or phones. Planning your trip should give you an idea of what kind of weather to expect, which routes to take to avoid heavy construction and what you’re going to need for gas money. Plus, before you go decide what route you’re going to take and tell someone about it: your roommate, your parents, etc. That way, if something goes wrong everyone know exactly which route to start searching first.

3.) Don’t be afraid to rest. There is nothing wrong with pulling over to take a quick nap. Sure, a truck-stop or empty Walmart parking lot isn’t ideal, but driving with a bobbing head is just asking for trouble. Even a quick 30 minutes will leave you feeling refreshed enough to make it to a hotel if you have to.

An even better idea: bring someone along with you and switch off! Sharing driving duties is a great way to stay safe as well as kill hours of time.

4.) Pack some food and water. Of course you’re going to need some snacks to keep yourself alert, but it’s also nice to know if you get stranded with a flat tire you won’t be completely starving.

5.) Give your car a checkup. Speaking of breaking down on the side of the road, make sure you bring your car in to get inspected before a long trip. You’ll want to make sure you’re not due for an oil change when you hit the road, and other things (headlights, wipers, signals, brakes, etc.) are all working properly. In addition, having a traveler’s road safety kit and packing the right equipment to change a spare tire as well as some jumper cables is essential.

6.) Have some kind of protective gear. You never know when you might need it, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So carrying a bottle of pepper spray or a personal alarm couldn’t hurt. Plus, it would definitely make you feel better should you have to pull over at a truck stop for a quick break.

4.) Leave the boos at home, stay off your cell phone and wear your seatbelt. Just do it. ‘Nuff said.

Parents: Top 3 Ways to Help Your College Student Cope with Homesickness

Homesickness in college is a very common thing. Often times a college student has not only dove into a world of new stresses and responsibilities, but at the same time have distanced themselves from their primary source of support (their friends and family). Problem is though, with such a high level of stress and such a distant support group, a typical college student is prone to making, shall we say, not the best decisions.

And it is there that we reach one of the biggest issues of college: depression. Depression in college tends to hit hard and without warning (especially around a holiday like Valentine’s Day), and since homesickness is one of the biggest contributing factors to depression, here are a few ways you can help your college student cope with the inevitable feeling of homesickness.

1.) Offer to listen. This isn’t a time to attempt to solve all of your child’s problems. One of the main perks of going off to college is the freedom to develop into an adult without the overbearing supervision of their parents. Of course you’d love to make their life easier (you are their parents, after all), but attempting at solutions can be perceived as judging, or worse yet, believing your child can’t solve the problem on their own.

Instead, lend an ear and refrain from offering solutions. Your son doesn’t know how they’re going to get through all the homework a teacher has been assigning? Ask about what the other students do for help. Your daughter just broke up with her high school sweetheart? Let her know you’ll be there to talk about it 176668008_dppm5fc5_c_largewhenever she wants.

2.) Care packages. It seems so simple (and I admit, a bit corny), but care packages work wonders. A little something from home (some homemade cookies, pictures or a video of the family pet and a handwritten letter are unbelievably helpful to a homesick student. And even though you can put pictures on Facebook and send them an email, taking the time to print the pictures out and send a card makes anyone feel special, especially when they may be feeling so isolated in the first place.

3.) Support. One of the biggest reasons college students become distanced with their parents is that they feel their parents won’t support their decisions. Many parents support their child’s first major (engineering, art, etc) but then act surprised or caught off guard if the student wants to switch or leave school altogether. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with changing a major. Determining what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 is incredibly difficult (not to mention completely unrealistic). Even the idea of dropping out of school isn’t completely outlandish. There are always options to go back, and many people have found that taking some time off to save some money was the best choice they could’ve ever made.

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Ways to Protect Yourself at College

Ah, college. Frankly, the thought of going off to school is incredibly exciting. You’re completely on your own! You can go out without having to ask permission! You can eat cereal and cake for dinner every night! You can be on Tumblr all day long!

Yes, but along with that freedom comes responsibility, and responsibility is how you’re going to keep yourself safe. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your college experience will be an enjoyable one.

1.) Take a self-defense class. Knowing how to defend yourself is incredibly useful! Not only will you learn valuable information, like crucial pressure points (eyes, groin) and what parts of your body are most effective when defending yourself (elbows), but you’ll also learn how to keep yourself calm and next steps to take after you’ve been attacked.

2.) Strength in numbers. If you’re going to go anywhere, try to do so in a group. The chances of being attacked in a group are extremely low, as there are witnesses everywhere! If you can’t get a group together and you absolutely have to get to the library, call campus security and have an escort (who are always pre-screened) walk with you, and when all else fails, make sure to carry a self defense product of some kind (mace, an alarm). Or, you know, you could just wait until morning.

3.) Keep your dorm safe. This means locking your doors and not letting in people you don’t know. It can be tempting to let someone in who’s loitering (“I just forgot my key…”) but if you don’t know them don’t let them in. Offer to get the RA or Campus Security instead.

Same with your car; keep your doors locked and if you don’t know someone don’t give them a ride, no matter how nice they seem. They can always call Campus Security…or you can for them if you feel bad for leaving them stranded.

385342_244278448969630_173166462747496_699607_698012779_n_large4.) Keep others updated. Letting your roommates know where you’re going or coming home from is essential. When it comes down to it, if anything does happen to you (God forbid), people will be tracing your steps. Even just a quick text (“off to the library to do some homework”) is sufficient enough.

5.) Keep your emergency numbers and contacts updated. Numbers like Campus Security, Poison Control and even the cab service may come in handy when you least expect it. Other important numbers, such as the phone number to call if your credit card gets stolen are also good to have on hand.

Oh and call your parents, they worry because they care.

College Safety: Top 3 Risky Situations

Now I’m not one to tell you to stay home on Halloween or miss the party next door because there are people there that you don’t know, but it is important to have a good head on your shoulders. Here are the top three riskiest situations a college student typically faces and how to navigate them while keeping yourself as safe as possible.

1.) The House Party. Attending that party down the street? Good! Going to social events is how you meet people and get to know everyone, and the fact is house parties are the easiest way to do it. But if you do go, invite a friend and agree not to leave without each other. No matter how cute that guy is or how much fun you’re having, if one person wants to leave the other is coming with, end of story.

2.) The Walk Home. Sometimes you just have to walk somewhere, I get that. Whether it’s heading down to the library to finish a paper or getting in some gym time at 5:00 in the morning, you’re going to be walking places. So when you’re walk is going to be a bit long (30 minutes), try to get a ride or use public transportation. If it’s short (on your way to the food hub), try to walk with a group of people. If you absolutely can’t find transportation and need to walk by yourself, stick to well lit areas, keep your eyes open and make sure to carry something defensive (no, not a gun), like mace. And if you’re really nervous, there’s nothing wrong with calling campus security for an escort somewhere.

3.) The Date. Ah, love. Now for the most part, dating at college doesn’t usually take place the old-fashioned way, but it does still exist, and the rules are still the same. First of all, make sure you meet in a public place and you drive yourself (you don’t want to find out they’re a creeper and then have them take you home to find out where you live). Second, make sure someone knows where you are and who you’re with. Just a quick text (“going bowling w/ my blind date, with me luck!”) will suffice, and third of all, take it easy on the drinks. There’s no quicker way to blur your judgment than with alcohol.

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5 Essential Rules for Safe Dating in College

One of the most exciting aspects of college is, of course, the dating world. You don’t have to get permission from your parents, you can wear whatever you want, and you can stay out as late as you want, or (sorry parents) you can even stay over.

So with all the exciting components of the college dating scene, it’s understandable that a young college student wouldn’t want to think of the downside. Specifically, the dangers of the dating world.

But not thinking about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So here are a few ways to ensure that while your date may not be a love connection, you’ll still be safe and sound at the end of the night.

1.) Meet (and stay) in a public place. It should go without saying, but often times the romance of the occasion (“A moonlit walk? That’s so romantic!”) tends to win out. Of course a moonlit walk is romantic, but when you barely know the person a moonlit walk could potentially turn into a terrifying experience. Stick to places where there are many people present, like bars, coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants, theme parks and sporting events.

2.) Have backup. Sure you never want to use it, but the fact is having mace in your purse could come in handy later. And at you can even purchase disguised pepper sprays, like ones shaped like lipstick or perfume. Other things, like personal alarms or “screechers” will help you defend yourself should the occasion arise.

3.) Provide your own transportation. This is essential for two reasons: 1.) It means you have the freedom to leave whenever you want, and it means the person you are meeting doesn’t know where you live. Trust me, I’ve made the mistake of having him pick me up, only to find out halfway through the date that he was a huge creep (he asked to make a plaster cast of my breasts). That is not the kind of guy you want knowing your home address.

4.) Keep others informed. Making sure your roommate (or mom) knows your whereabouts is essential, that way if anything does happen (God forbid), people will know where to start looking. Even a simple text when your date goes to use the bathroom (“It’s going great! Think we’re gonna head for ice cream! ”) is an easy way to keep everyone’s mind at ease and keep yourself a little safer in the process.

5.) Take it easy on the alcohol. The reasoning here is pretty cut and dry: alcohol impairs judgment. As much as you may like this person, the fact is that you’re out with a stranger. Besides, no one wants to go out on a date with a sloshed idiot, no matter how fun you think you are when you drink.

If you feel you must drink though, be sure to always have an eye on your drink and keep it to one or two (that’s one or two glasses of wine, not one or two Long Island Iced Teas).

6.) Trust your gut. If you get that queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, listen to it! Believe it or not, you are instinctively wired to identify potentially dangerous situations, so if your gut says leave, don’t let your brain talk to you back into an uncomfortable situation. Besides, the worst that can happen if you choose to listen to your gut feeling is infinitely better than the worst that could happen if you choose to ignore it.