Coping with Depression at College

Let’s talk about depression at college. No, not because there was something recently that came up in the news, but quite the opposite actually; it’s never in the news.

Depression at college is incredibly common. And why wouldn’t it be? Take anyone and uproot them from their family and friends, move them a couple hundred miles away (if not more), saddle them with an enormous amount of responsibility (homework, finals, paying their own bills, feeding themselves, getting a job, finding a girlfriend, etc.), tell them they have to choose what they are going to do for the rest of their lives and then call them a failure if their unsure and yeah…I think just about anyone faces a pretty high risk of becoming depressed.

So should you be feeling a bit depressed at your university, here are a few tips to coping:

1.) Do not generalize your experience. All universities are not the same, and it’s completely normal for your first choice to simply be a bad fit. Just as one English professor shouldn’t cause you to lose faith in all English classes, neither should one university cause you to lose faith in all colleges. A change in major, living arrangements or university itself may do wonders for your mood.

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2.) College is temporary. This is not a lifelong decision! College is meant to be four years long, just like high school. You made it through high school, right? And if you want to make the time go by faster, consider taking more credits, or taking credits during breaks (Christmas Break and over the summer). You will not be in this situation forever.

3.) Depression is more common than you think. It may seem like an enormous risk, but go to your student health center and talk to someone. You’ll find that you are absolutely not alone! Depression at college is incredibly common (it’s estimated at roughly 40%…and that’s only based on reported information). So understand that you are in no way alone in this and you are in no way strange or weird for feeling this way.

4.) You don’t have to go to college. A huge source of anxiety for many college students is the idea that if they drop out of college that they are a failure; not so. College is simply a path some people take to reach a career goal; it is by no means an absolute necessity. You can choose to go into the military, to take individual trade or skill classes, or wait until you’re working for a company you’d like to advance in (a lot of times companies offer to pay for additional classes and training). Don’t freak out if you aren’t fitting into the perfect mold of a traditional college student. It just means maybe a different path would be a better option, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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Is Paranoia Getting to You? College Facts That Will Let You Rest Easy

If you were to scroll through our list of blog posts hopefully you would be able to get a decent understanding about how to make it through college the safest way possible. We’ve broken down your back to school safety kit, discussed what you should do if you have a stalker, explained how to be safe while dating in college and even written a post to parents enlightening them on the best way to openly communicate with their college student. Now all these articles are written with good intentions; we want to give you the best possible advice we can before you head out into uncharted territory. However, if you were to do a search on the internet regarding campus safety, you’d find some pretty scary stuff. So we’re going to set the record straight (it may also make your parents to feel better to read this as well, that way they won’t be as quick to assume you’re dead in a ditch somewhere if you don’t answer your cell phone on the first ring).

1.) Campus security is better than you think. A friend of mine is a local police officer, but before he was a “real” cop, he was something else…a campus security cop. When asked the differences between each job, he surprisingly answered that they thought they were better at campus security.

What?

“It’s simple,” he explained. “College kids don’t call about the little stuff. As a cop, you get a lot of calls from 80 year old women suspicious of their new neighbors and stuff like that. College kids don’t call about any of that stuff, so when there is a complaint about something, we can really devote our time to it since it’s not being wasted on insignificant crap.”

Interesting. So that means this idea that campus security will take 10 minutes to get to you at 2:00 in the morning is…inaccurate?

“Hell yeah it’s inaccurate! All we’re doing at 2:00 in the morning is either making surveillance rounds, doing paperwork or cleaning. We’ll be there in a heartbeat!”

Good to know.

2.) Not all roommates are crazy. They chances of you getting paired up with a roommate you are incompatible with are fairly high, based on your personality of course. But the chances that you will get paired up with an actual psychopath (like the ones you always hear about on television) are incredibly rare. Parents, you can rest your head at night knowing your child is very unlikely to be eaten by his or her roommate. But still purchase a sturdy dorm trunk or a dorm safe…just in case.

3.) College is not as difficult as you thought. Is college tougher than highschool? Absolutely! The classes are harder, the subject matter is harder, the professors don’t care if you fail, it’s up to you to attend class and keep your grades up, plus the pace can be quite a shock. However, most universities already know this and have resources at your disposal. You will most likely have access to free tutoring, classes that teach you specific study skills and time management abilities, as well as online resources like professor and class reviews. Millions of students that have come before you have survived college, and you will too.

Roommate Lessons You Should Learn the First Week of College

Folks it’s July, which means school starting up again is just around the corner. And for those of you who are brand new to the university world, I’m going to let you in on a little secret; roommates can be the death of you.

Oh, wait, someone else already told you that? Everybody else already told you that? Well good. The fact is, unless you’re rooming with your best high school buddy (which you should never, never do, I’ll explain later in a future post), you’re going to be rooming with a complete stranger.

And honestly it’s not all that bad. I’ve only had a handful of roommates over the years where I found myself desperately trying to burn a whole in their head with my eyes alone, but for the most part I’ve had some very reasonable and very normal roomies.

However, there are a few things about a crazy roommate that you need to know, and many of these things you can learn within the first week. So here they are:

1.) They will eat your food. All of it. Gone. And they won’t admit to it unless you confront them. Some may even go as far as to hint to you when you’re out of their favorite snack, in a “Hey, do we have anything good to snack on around here?” kind of way. In the first week they will ask if they can have something of yours. This is a red flag. The roommates who actually ask permission later down the road will not ask in the first week. If they’re asking permission on move-in day, you’ve got yourself a problem.

2.) They will borrow your clothes. They will try them on when you’re not there, they will wear them to class when you have different schedules, they will bring them home during school breaks, and they will accidently never bring them back. At the end of the semester you’ll be going home with an empty suitcase and a confused look on your face. Lock your sh*t up.

3.) They will use your computer. It starts out with, “Hey, can I check my email really fast? My computer’s being weird…” and end up with, “Hey I really needed to check my email and you weren’t home so I used your computer, hope that’s cool.” That sounds all fine and good but what they’re really saying is, “I’m going to download 264 songs on your computer, say I’m deleting all of them but I’m really just unknowingly moving them all to a hidden file where they will continue to take up space and make your computer run super slow.” Keep your laptop with you, store it somewhere safe or lock it up when you’re gone. It’s just good practice to keep something like that locked in a safe place when you aren’t home anyway.

Your Back-To-School Safety Kit

Remember when you were just a wee little tike, and it came time for back-to-school shopping? Of course you do, who doesn’t! The new pair of shoes, the notebooks with clean, empty pages and the little bundle of multi-colored pens and highlighters (that, in reality, would only be used for decorated whatever notes you were planning on passing between classmates). Back to school shopping was fun.

Wait…let me rephrase that…back to school shopping was a freakin’ blast.

And then you went to college. Now in college, setting off to buy a fresh notebook still brings a bit of a rush, but it’s also bittersweet; every cent you spend on colorful highlighters takes away from the thousands of dollars you’ve been saving to spend on textbooks, meal plans and tuition.

But then comes the other part of college that seems to get ignored; safety. In grade-school, the most you would need for safety equipment was a big brother or sister, and even that had potential for backfiring. College is different though; it’s up to you to keep yourself safe, and in that case, certain safety equipment is an absolute necessity and should be budgeted for accordingly. Now in a perfect world you would buy every possible safety item you could, but in the real world you can only buy what you can afford and what is the highest priority. We get that. So we’ve made it easy and narrowed down the list of items you would need based on our own combined college experiences.

1.) Pepper spray. As much as we tell you not to walk anywhere by yourself…especially at night…on a dimly lit campus…it’s going to happen. We understand that there are going to be times when taking a quick jaunt across an empty campus in the middle of the night is your only realistic (albeit very stupid) option. So get yourself some damn pepper spray so you have a better chance of living to tell the tale.

2.) Dorm safes. The likelihood that you’ll be living with a roommate is incredibly high. The likelihood that you’ll both end up being best friends, however, not so much. The truth is, you’ll be living with a complete stranger, so it’s absolutely vital that you have a secure spot to put your most valuable personal items. I’m not even going to get into the speech of what to bring from home (if it’s that valuable, don’t bring it to college!) and just skip straight to the part where I tell you what you need, and that, my friend, is a quality dorm safe.

3.) Locks. Just as you will need a substantial (read: sturdy) dorm safe, you are going to need some basic locks. It sounds crazy, but I wish I had put a lock on my closet my freshman year; I’m pretty sure my roommate took half my clothes with her every time she went home to visit family! Lock your sh*t up. You’ll either thank me later or wish that you had.

And if you’ve got a little extra in your budget (go ahead…laugh…I’ll give you a second), check out our college sites specifically for dorm room design and dorm room safety: www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com and www.secureoncampus.com.You’ll be glad you did!

Are you planning on bringing any safety equipment to school?

Bad College Ideas That Sound Good at the Time

If one thing’s for sure, it’s the fact that being away at college often gives you this odd “blanket” of invisibility. Trust me, I’ve been there. But before you go off doing something you probably wouldn’t do at home “just because you can,” think about the consequences. In all these situations, the consequences are pretty damn serious, regardless of whether or not you thought of them at the time.

1.) “It’s okay, I’ll just drive.” Fact: there is a lot of alcohol in college. Whether it’s on campus or not, it really doesn’t matter, you’re going to be exposed to it. Now I’m not going to tell you to aim for a dry 4 years of school, otherwise that would make me a complete hypocrite, but I will tell you to be careful about the decisions you make around alcohol, and choosing to drive is a huge one.

Chances are, if you’re knock-down drunk your buddies aren’t going to let you get behind the wheel. But if you’ve had just a couple, aren’t slurring your words and haven’t shown any other signs of drunkenness, they may gladly hand you the keys. Don’t do it. You could hurt yourself, hurt someone else, get arrested, have to pay some serious fines and maybe even have to do some community service. Oh yeah and that other big one…you could die.

2.) “I’m going to kick his/her ass.” One thing that you will soon learn about college is this: most people still have a lot of growing up to do. So that guy that broke your friend’s heart (and completely deserves to get his ass kicked)? Yeah he’s just a douche. Accept it and move on. That chick that bashed the windows out of your car? Call the cops. Sounds a lot less badass, but it’sabsolutelythe way to go. People tend to talk tough when they do something stupid, but as soon as they realize they’re actually in trouble for it, they turn into whiny little babies crying for their parents. Trust me, don’t kick their ass; it’s much more gratifying to see them picking up trash on the side of the road for the next 8 weeks.

3.) “I bet I could just cheat…” No, you can’t. Maybe you got away with it in high school, but that’s a whole different game altogether. And frankly, cheating in college is just plain stupid. If you cheated in your high school Home-Ec class, no one cared. But if you cheat in your phlebotomy class in your nursing program, it will seriously come back to bite you. Not only do most schools have a “No Toleration” policy (meaning you instantly fail the class and usually get expelled), you’re not getting information that you need. Cheating in College Algebra means that your future chemistry, physics, biology, drafting, engineering, and countless other classes are going to bewaaaaaaymore difficult than they need to be.

In addition, universities can see you coming a mile away. Think no one has ever tried using their roommate’s paper for their own class? Think again. There are now programs that allow teachers to upload a paper into a system that tells them if any other paper like it has ever been written. Sure, yours might be 10% similar to someone else’s paper across the country, but 86% similar? That’s cheating. So just suck it up and learn the information.

www.secureoncampus.com

Single Parent College Students: How to Keep Your Child Safe

This is a new day and age; one where the typical college student isn’t necessarily the 18-22 year old that goes straight to college the semester after they finish high school. In reality, there are more non-traditional students than ever, meaning many students are also juggling the responsibilities daycare and diaper changes.

But above all, single parents are also stressing about keeping their children safe while they’re out trying to get an education. And for those overachievers of the university world, here are a few tips that could help ease your mind enough to let you write that 10 page economics paper in peace.

1.) Research the school. Daycare is insanely expensive, and many schools now offer childcare programs for their students. Sometimes it’s added into the cost of tuition and sometimes it’s an optional program you have to pay extra for. Either way, you need to research who in going to be in charge of your child’s care. You’ll want to make sure your child’s supervisor(s) have the appropriate certifications (CPR, First Aid, etc.) and the appropriate experience to handle a screaming child.

2.) Check your back seat before you get out of the car. It’s easy to assume that you’ll never leave your baby locked in the car during a hot day, but it’s better to get in the habit of checking anyway. After all, between your varying class schedule and the stresses of class obligations, it’s only expected to be a little scatterbrained.

3.) Screen everyone you meet. It doesn’t matter if your study partner “seems nice” and if that guy you just started dating offered to buy you diner tomorrow night, it doesn’t mean they are safe to meet your kids. Before you bring someone new into your home, make sure to check your references. Do you have any mutual friends that can speak to their character? Have you ever seen how they react to stressful situations? You’ll need to ensure you really know a person before you trust them with your child’s safety.

4.) Listen to your kids. Your children are going to be your best sources for information. If they are uncomfortable with a specific person in your building, ask them why. If they have been acting out since switching to a specific babysitter, ask them how they like their babysitter. You’ll want to ask your kids about their day and really listen to their answers.

5.) Keep your stuff locked up. Regardless of whether or not you have kids, it’s still important to keep your belongings in a safe area. This goes for computer and television locks as well. The internet is a crazy and dangerous place for a child, and HBO definitely has a few shows that children shouldn’t be watching. So in addition to locking your doors at night and keeping your belonging in a dorm safe, make sure the settings on anything else are set to child-friendly.

Don’t forget to check out more of our dorm safety essentials at www.secureoncampus.com

College Safety Equipment You Don’t Need

Everyone in their right mind wants you to be safe when you head off to college, but there’s well intentioned and then there’s downright preying on your fear of the unknown. Yes, you’re going to a new place, but for the love of God you’re not going to some barren wasteland inhabited only by sex offenders and con artists, you’re going to college! Some safety gear you need and some you don’t, but you’ll only realize what you don’t need halfway into your freshman year after you’ve already sacrificed a respectable amount of money and some quality storage room in your suitcase. So here are a few serious (and some not-so-serious) suggestions for safety stuff you don’t need:

1.) Anything that could be in a Mission: Impossible movie. You do not need voice recognition software to unlock your apartment door, and you do not need eyeball pupil dilation recognition to log into your computer. Besides, if I were a criminal, and I came across a house with this kind of protection I’d have to break in, out of sheer curiosity! And remember, all the voice recognition technology in the world can’t stop a brick going through the window.

2.) A bodyguard. Unless you are a celebrity or the closet blood relative of a celebrity or well-known politician, you do not need a bodyguard. And as much as your parents are trying to convince you that the giant man wearing sunglasses is for your protection, he’s really just some schmuck who finally figured out how to get paid for stalking cute college freshmen. His only really job responsibility is to report back to your parents about your every single move.

3.) A gun. While you may feel safer with a gun in your hand, the chances of you ever needing to use it are incredibly slim. However, the chances of a gun ending up in the hands of your drunk roommate at 3:30 in the morning are much more likely. Bringing something like a gun (or a crossbow, or a pair of nun-chucks, etc.) to college for “protection” is about as stupid as any form of thinking goes. Your college campus already has safety measures in place, meaning if there is ever a chance you would have to pull out a gun, someone else (who is authorized and with much better training) probably already has. Weapons serve no purpose at college except as evidence to horrific accidents. Leave your throwing stars at home.

Things you DO need:

For the most part, think of the basics. You’re going to need something to store you valuables in safely, like a dorm safe, some basic locks (trust me, if you’re going to be living with roommmates you’re going to want some of those), some pepper spray, and if you’re going to be living off campus; a fire extinguisher.

Be safe!