Browsing Tag

campus life

Safety Student Life

Campus Crime and Student Safety

November 24, 2020

When you think about college, it’s typical to think of all the positive experiences and encounters you will have as a student. Whether it’s getting excited about your major, dorm life, making new friends, and gaining independence, most college students are ready for all the new adventures college has to offer. Unfortunately, campus crime becomes a part of the conversation too. Crimes such as burglary, sexual assault, hazing, and theft are some of the most common crimes that occur on or near college campuses. Here are ways to minimize the chances of being a victim of campus crime and what to do if it does happen to you. 

Protect valuable items.

  • If you have jewelry, designer clothes, shoes, or other items that may put a target on your for thieves, consider leaving those items at home.
  • Look into buying a renters insurance policy to protect the stuff you do decide to bring with you to campus, such as your backpack and laptop.
  • Be mindful of who you invite over. Make sure valuables are hidden or locked away safely.
  • Take pictures of your stuff in case you do become a victim of theft or malicious damage. That will help you file a claim for reimbursement through your renters insurance policy.

Travel in pairs or groups with people that you know. 

  • Use the buddy system when attending an event or a party. This is especially important if you’re a young woman who may be at greater risk.
  • Share your location with friends and let someone know when you plan to return.
  • Never leave someone alone in a vulnerable or uncomfortable situation. If necessary, leave as a group and make other plans instead.

Be smart on social media.

  • Don’t share when you’re away from your dorm or residence hall.
  • Avoid geotagging and sharing your location on photos, videos, and other posts that would reveal your current location.
  • Think twice about sharing any sensitive information online, including any revealing details about where you live or work.

Have a plan.

  • When going out, especially at night, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Walk with confidence, and avoid looking confused even if you’re going somewhere you haven’t been before.
  • Don’t use headphones or keep your head down looking at your phone when you’re walking.
  • Download safety apps to turn your phone into a pocket-sized security guard.

From making new friends to becoming independent, there are a lot of positive things to look forward to as a new college student. Overall, it should be fun. Bt with this comes the responsibility of staying as safe. Sometimes college students think campus is one big protective bubble. But that’s not always the case, unfortunately. Remember these tips for staying safe!

Career Student Life Transition

Is Community College the Right Choice?

November 6, 2020

Growing up, many students and their families are led to believe that attending a four year college or university right after high school is the best decision. They hear that the quality of education will be better, the college experience will be more fun, and that it will look better on their resumes when it is time to make a career choice. But community college shouldn’t be overlooked simply based on the benefits of attending a four-year university.

Here’s why community college may be the right choice for you:

The Cost

Most families and students know that community college does tend to be less costly than a four year college or university. This is often one of the biggest reasons students begin their higher education career at a community college. Classes are a fraction of the cost compared to a four-year university, and it’s a good time to get the general education studies out of the way, or even take classes that simply sound interesting to you, since tuition won’t break the bank.

Credits Earned Can Be Transferred to a Four Year College or University

The classes you take at community college can be applied to your bachelors degree. Many students don’t realize general education classes, like your English and science requirements, are the same at both the community college and university level. Just make sure you’re passing your classes and meeting with your counselor to make sure you are on the right track to transfer your credits. It would also help to begin contacting the university you plan on attending to make sure your junior college credits will transfer and that you are taking classes that are equivalent to what is offered at their institution. 

Associate’s Degree May Be Enough for You

You can earn a degree at community college and be done with higher education, if you want. It’s totally up to you! Lots of students make the decision to pursue career options with just their associate’s degree under their belt. Other options include joining the military or attending a trade school.

Staying Closer to Home for a Bit Longer

Some students are hesitant about leaving the nest so soon after high school that they make the decision to attend a community college that’s close to home. This gives first year college students the opportunity to spend more time with their family and childhood friends, save money on school, and maybe even get a part time job. Attending community college and living at home can be an easier transition for students who are paying for school themselves or aren’t yet sure what they want to study at a four-year university.

If you and your family are trying to decide whether or not community college is a good decision, take these considerations to heart.

Other Transition

4 Years, 8 Semesters, 120 Credit Hours

September 24, 2019

This task ahead of every full-time college student. For some, it will take longer and others shorter. This usually means that a student will have to take about 15 credit hours per semester. Some students take more.

Accommodating

Many college students have to work while they are in school and it can be a major challenge to manage a coursework load and an employee workload. Thankfully there are multiple solutions to manage 120 credit hours and 20-40 hr work week. Online classes and summer classes are just two of the options available to lighten the load allowing for students to achieve academic success while not having to be stressed out over the balance between working and completing school. 

Online Courses

Online classes are great ways to give students more control over managing their time. An online class does not have a set time that students have to attend a lecture. There are due dates for assignments and as long as the student is able to complete the assignments within the time that is due they are fine. Online classes allow students to work from wherever and whenever they want to. Some students will work on their academic material while they are at work. 

Summer Courses

Summer classes are extremely effective in allowing students to get more work done over the same amount of time. Just think, if you take two summer classes in between every spring and fall semester then you would only have to take 12 credits per semester instead of 15 and still graduate on time with 120 credits. Another great reason to take summer classes is that they keep the mind going. Students will be working hard during the school year and then after finals week of the spring semester, they will enter summer break mode. While it is nice to take a small break from schoolwork, a three-month-long break is not healthy for staying in the academic groove. Working out the mind is very similar to working out the body. If one does not continue to workout the mind it will become sluggish, making it difficult to start the next fall semester. But taking a couple summer classes allows students to continue exercising their mind but not to the point that it’s a burden. Keeping a small connection to academics during the offseason will make the transition back into the academic year a swift one. 

Navigating the course of college is not a simple task. It takes grit, determination and strategic planning. 4 years, 8 semesters, 120 credit hours. This can seem like a lot being thrown at you but there are plenty of ways to lighten the load and smoothen the path. Taking online courses and summer classes are just two ways to help simplify the college management process. Learn more about college tips, tricks, and hacks by visiting the GradGuard blog.

Other Student Life

Pros and Cons of Having a Car on Campus

June 25, 2019

When you arrive on campus there are many difficult decisions to make. One decision that many students grapple with is whether or not to bring their car to school. There are many factors to consider such as the distance of your school from your home, the climate where your school is located, and the price of gas. Here are some pros and cons to consider before bringing your car to campus.  

Pros

Freedom to travel where you need to go

Having a car will make it easier to go off campus and travel. You won’t have to rely on public transportation or have to ask other people to get around. It can be helpful to be able to drive to the grocery store or have the ability to go on a short trip.

Cut down on flight costs

If you have a car on campus you will not have to purchase plane tickets when you want to go back home. This, of course, depends on whether or not you are going to a school that is close to where you live. A car will allow you to travel home without paying a hefty flight price.

Ability to transport your possessions

It can be difficult to move in and out of your residence when in college and having a car may assist with this process. The ability to drive to college with your possessions is very valuable. You can cut down on the cost of a storage unit and won’t have to worry too much about shipping your items.

Cons

You might get taken advantage of

If you are the person in your friend group who has a car, some people may start treating you like their personal taxi service. If you create boundaries you may avoid this issue but there is always the risk of others using you for your car.

You need to pay for parking and gas

A burden of having a car on campus is that you typically have to pay a hefty fee just to park it. This varies among different schools but this added expense can be bigger than expected. Another thing to consider is the price of gas. This may be a high cost depending on your location.

Weather conditions

If you are going to school somewhere with harsh winters, it may not be the best conditions for having a car. The snow can be an issue for college students who have cars on campus, especially if the student is not used to living in that type of climate.

The decision of whether or not to bring your car to campus is contingent on the different factors presented. It’s a choice that some students are happy with and other’s regret. No matter your decision, it is important to be prepared and to be aware of all the conditions.

GradGuard is a great resource for students who want to be prepared for any surprises that life may present them with. Follow GradGuard on social media to stay up to date on valuable advice and tips for your first year of college.

Other Safety

5 Safety Apps Every College Student Should Know About

May 14, 2019

The college years are some of the most exciting years in a person’s life. They’re all about exploring interests, experiencing life, and learning from mistakes. As fun as college can be, there’s also a great deal of responsibility that comes with being on your own for the first time. One of the most important aspects of this responsibility is ensuring your personal safety.

As a college student, you’re likely to face a unique set of dangers being on a campus setting. Whether it’s theft, assault, drugs/alcohol, or cybersecurity threats, they will all present themselves in different ways. It’s likely that you’ll encounter one or more of these issues, but it’s how you handle the situation that will help you emerge from it safely. Being both educated and prepared are some of the best ways to stay safe. Thankfully, there have been significant advancements made in technology that have been developed to help protect today’s college students.

Whether you’re going off to college for the first time or already have a few years under your belt, you’ll want to check out these five safety apps that every college student should be aware of.

Circle of 6

This app is the perfect way for college students to feel safe when walking home at night. Just simply download the app and set up your “circle” which is essentially your six emergency contacts who will be notified in an emergency. If you are in any form of danger, you can tap the icons inside the app twice and your circle will be sent a notification alerting them to the situation. Based on the icon you chose the app will send one of three texts to the circle:

  • GPS icon: “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely.”
  • Phone icon: “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”
  • Chat icon: “I need to talk.”

Rave Guardian

This app has been backed by many universities who have instilled this app on their own campuses. By sending out a simple message or anonymous tip you can be connected to your local university police station who will assist you with your situation. The app also has a feature to virtually assist you on your walk home. Simply notify the app when you leave and where you’re going, if you don’t notify them of your arrival after a set time period, the app will send someone to check on you.

Norton Secure VPN

Cybersecurity threats have become a growing concern for college campuses over the last decade. Between viruses, breaches, and phishing scams there can be a lot to protect your devices against. Having a virtual private network on your mobile devices can help safeguard your devices by encrypting your connection, making you invisible to outside cybercriminals. This can be invaluable in keeping your personally identifiable information from ending up in the wrong hands, or worse, becoming a victim of identity theft.

KiteString

While this application is more of a text-based service, it’s been praised as highly as other competing apps. The simplicity of this program is that you can text them when you’re going to be walking alone or in an uncomfortable situation with the amount of time that you’d like them to check in on you after. They’ll send you a check in text and you just simply reply that all is alright. If you don’t respond after that time, KiteString will send your emergency contacts a notification.

Revolar

As is true in most emergency situations, you don’t always have the time to open an app and respond immediately. Revolar’s app is connected through a wearable device that you can attach to a backpack or purse. Its simplicity makes it easy to press in a panic to have help sent to your location immediately. You can customize your alerts, messages, and contacts easily through the mobile app keeping the device seamlessly connected.

Be sure you stay safe out there with these apps from GradGuard and be sure to follow us on social media for more!

Other Safety

Growth In Campus Fires & Crimes Confirm The Value Of Renters Insurance For College Students

July 25, 2018

According to Clery Act reports, in 2017-2018, the number of fires that occurred in on-campus student housing facilities was down 12.3% from 1,938 to 1,726 fires. In addition to fires, the number of reported criminal offenses decreased by around 1% from 38,000 to 37,573. The data for criminal offenses is based on reports from nearly 6,000 institutions and the data for fires is based on reports from 686 institutions and 701 campuses.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “We recommend families consider renters insurance because college students and their parents are often caught unprepared, and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education.”

In fact, a majority of state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

With so much money at stake, John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, suggests that “college parents make a plan in case their student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage or if they are found responsible for damages they may cause.”

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computerRenters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property. Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.

2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property – In a 2017 survey of student housing leaders, 98% of schools report that they do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.

3. If you can’t afford to pay for damages you cause – True renter’s insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

Fees added, “college students and their families are smart to consider purchasing renter’s insurance before the start of school. For about $12.00 a month, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must have consideration for college families.”

Other Safety

How to Keep Your Laptop Safe When Using Campus WiFi

November 3, 2016

College can be the best time of your life; it can also be filled with tons of minor headaches. Between managing classes and keeping the budget intact, it’s important to save a little here and a little there.

As a result, we cling to our tools and protect them like parts of ourselves. The thought of losing them is akin to some kind of natural disaster. Laptops are among the devices we use that rank most highly on the list of things to protect because they accomplish and save our works. Plus, they’re a great source of endless entertainment.

To stay frugal, most college students use their laptops on campus WiFi of some sort. Purchasing a data plan for your laptop costs an inordinate amount of money, and there are so many public access points that it hardly seems worth the cost. What few realize is just how costly campus WiFi can become.

Surfing the Unsecured Net

Campus WiFi is free—not counting the huge tuition costs associated with just being present—and many colleges have made a point to ensure adequate speed is provided for all attending classes. What they haven’t provided is a secured connection. But what exactly is a secured connection?

When you access WiFi, you’re either connecting to a password-protected, encrypted network, or you’re connecting to an unsecure network. Without the use of basic security measures, everyone connected is vulnerable to outside attack. Hackers are especially fond of public WiFi systems because they can scan through multiple victims to find data worth stealing, such as names, addresses, credit card information, social security numbers, etc.

It isn’t even a big challenge either; an amateur hacker is able to hack an open WiFi network in just under 11 minutes. Knowing that, what can you really do?

All is not lost. There are several security measures you can take to make sure your use of campus WiFi is considerably safer.

Encrypting Your Own Internet

So the campus hasn’t done its job; now what? Your best bet is to take steps to encrypt your own internet connection. Doing so will keep hackers out of your laptop and let you focus on doing what you came to do at college.

The best way to do that is by subscribing to one of the many Virtual Private Network (VPN) services available. Once a tool used predominantly by businesses and major universities for faculty, a VPN allows you to connect to a remote server before the rest of the net. These remote servers then encrypt your connection and allow you to do whatever it is you need to get done safely.

You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is encryption?” Simply put, encryption scrambles data into an unreadable format that can only be read with the right code. Because the code is so complicated on industry-standard encryption (typically described as 256-bit AES), hackers and other criminals can make no use of stolen data that’s been encrypted.

With that kind of system in place, you have little to be concerned about in terms of being hacked on WiFi. That’s not to say there aren’t other risks though.

Protecting Against Theft

Utilizing campus WiFi has many perks, but it also means taking your precious laptop to a very busy location. Even small colleges will typically have hundreds of people buzzing around at any given time, and the incidence of theft is relatively high at these locations.

As a result, it’s very important you take measures to make sure your laptop isn’t just stolen outright. Keeping an eye on it is a good first step; if you don’t leave it unattended, you’re considerably less likely to experience theft.

But data on your laptop is valuable, so valuable that you can’t leave things to chance. Make sure your laptop is properly locked up tight with a login password of considerable difficulty. Any personal information should be avoided in terms of the actual password content, as should full dictionary words or themes related to the university.

Stick with passwords that contain a minimum of eight characters, have a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, contain numbers, and have symbols. Long passphrases are also a good alternative, as they’re easy for you to remember but not so easy for thieves to guess.

Another step to consider is installing an anti-theft app. Several services exist, including PreyProject and Norton Anti-Theft, that allow you to track your stolen laptop and shut down functions from afar to prevent anything from being taken off the device.

In the event your laptop winds up lost, it can also be worth leaving your contact information on a sticker affixed to the exterior so Good Samaritans can help you recover your goods.

Value in the Information Age

There’s no question that what your laptop has on it is valuable to someone else. We live in a world where information can sometimes be more valuable than natural resources, and hacking has practically become its own black industry.

That isn’t something we need to be afraid of; it’s just another consideration to make as we move forward in each day. By taking the right steps to protect your laptop, you save yourself time, money and much-needed focus. As the steps involved aren’t particularly complicated or expensive, do yourself a favor: secure that connection!

 

 

Keep your laptop safe on your campus wifi network to prevent hacking and identity theft.

About the Author: Cassie is a lifelong learner with a focus on internet securities and cybercrime. She spends her days blogging about online safety and what can be done to prevent data theft, identity theft and general sabotage.