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student safety

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!

Adulting Student Life Transition

7 Tips For Living in Your First Off Campus Apartment

November 4, 2020

Making the transition from living on-campus to a nearby apartment brings many responsibilities. While it comes with more independence, it’s worth knowing if your complex is catered to students like yourself, or not. You can have friends over without worrying about dorm hours, or have the freedom to stay in your college town during the holidays or summer when the dorms are closed. However, you need to make sure you take proper responsibilities like paying your bills on time and sticking to your budget so you can enjoy your new apartment lifestyle.

Here are some tips for living in your first off campus apartment:

Have Everything in a Written Contract

When you live in your first off-campus apartment, it’ll most likely be your first opportunity to understand the importance of having everything in a written contract, and before signing it, you should read it through entirely. It also doesn’t hurt to have a parent or another adult read it through too since they most likely have more experience with renting. If you were promised something when you toured the facility or saw something in an advertisement, like a rent adjustment, you need to be certain that it is well-documented in the rent contract. And of course, don’t forget renters insurance.

Keep a Consistent Cleaning Schedule

Living in your first off-campus apartment means that you’re in charge of cleaning it. Whether you live alone or have roommates, you need to make a cleaning schedule and be consistent about making it happen. You don’t have to vacuum every day, but you should make a habit of wiping the kitchen and bathroom counters, taking out the trash, cleaning out the fridge regularly.

Pay All of Your Bills On Time

It might not seem like much, but paying your bills late will affect your credit score and result in late fees. To avoid having late bills, you can set auto-draft payments or simply write bill due dates on a calendar. If you’re collecting money from your roommates to pay the bills, you should start collecting at least a week before the money is due to make sure you have it on time.

Always Lock Your Doors

It’s easy to think that nothing will ever happen especially in your college town, but you should always lock your apartment door even if you’ll just be gone a few minutes. This includes running to your car really quickly or taking out the trash. If you’re uncomfortable with someone in your apartment, such as roommates or guests, you should lock your bedroom door when you aren’t home.

Think Carefully About Your Roommates

If you have roommates, you need to think long and hard about who you choose to live with. Will they be respectful of the complex’s rules? Will they be quiet if you need to study? Will they help clean up in the kitchen? Will they pay their part on time? These are all just a few of the questions you need to think about before agreeing to be roommates with someone. Just because they’re your close friend doesn’t mean they would make an ideal roommate. If you’re going the random roommate route, make sure to vet them thoroughly. Your complex may also have a roommate matching program to find you someone with similar qualities. Make sure you and your roommates each have your own renters insurance policy.

Create a Budget

Now that you’re living off-campus, you’ll be responsible for more expenses, and they can add up quickly. On top of rent and utilities, you need to create a budget for items such as groceries, entertainment, transportation (gas, bus card, subway pass, etc.), and clothing, and stick to it! You need to budget for the entire semester so you aren’t stuck eating sandwiches for the last 3 months of the semester because you spent all of your money the first month. Look into using a budgeting app to simplify the process.

Feel Free to Decorate

The apartment won’t feel like yours without a few personal decorations. Simple decorations like a team banner, throw pillows, picture frames, or movie posters will go a long way in making the place feel like your very own. Since this is your first off-campus apartment, you probably want make sure it feels like your own place, and bringing in decor items that show your personality will help.

Living in your first off-campus apartment is an exciting time full of new adventures! But don’t let the new found freedom get in the way of staying on top of the responsibilities that come along with it. Stick to these tips and you’ll be sure to be successful.

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

Online Dating in College

February 26, 2019

So here’s the thing. Dating in college is fun and all, but it can also be an absolute pain. You’re usually on a completely different page than the person you’re interested in, and sometimes a totally different book. Let’s face it, that person you met at the frat party last week is probably not texting you back any time soon, so let’s try something else. Online dating? It’s actually a really common thing now and makes things a lot easier; you can see what the other person is interested in via their profile, and what they are looking for. Simple right? Wrong. Here are some tips you can follow to remain safe and get the most out of online dating in college.

Do Your Research

You know what I mean. Put those FBI Facebook creeping skills to use and find the person you’re talking to on social media. Be sure that everything checks out. Make sure that they have friends, a solid following on Instagram, and add them on Snapchat. Snapchat is going to be your go-to window for seeing if the person you met through your dating app of choice is who they say they are. Talk to them on the phone too. Someone’s voice says a lot about them, so it’s always a good idea to sneak in a few phone calls before meeting. If these things don’t line up, then move on to the next one. Date smart and don’t set yourself up for a Catfish situation.

Meet Up in a Public Place

You really can’t be too careful when meeting up with someone that you met on the internet. Once you’ve been chatting with them for a while, done the Snapchatting, meet up with them at the campus coffee shop, ask them to grab lunch in a dining hall, or make a study date in the library. Don’t ask them to come over to your dorm room or apartment or go to theirs where no one else is at. Publicity is key!

Keep Your Friends Informed

If you’re making the step to meet up with someone that you met online, just keep at least 1 of your friends in the loop. Let them know that you are meeting up with a new person and tell them where you will be. It also isn’t a bad idea if you decide to have them on standby if you need an out. Give them a code word that you can text them if you are not having a good time, getting a bad vibe, etc. That way your friend can give you a call with an excuse for you to leave. Remember, you don’t need a solid reason to leave if you are uncomfortable.

Date Around, But Also Be Selective

The great thing about “dating” is that you are not really committed to one person. Don’t worry, they probably aren’t committed to you right away either. Really just take some time to play the field, but play it well. You’ll likely have a lot of options, but be sure that you are selective with your suitors. Don’t feel pressured to meet up with someone just because you’ve been talking to them. If you aren’t ready to or don’t want to, then don’t. Just don’t be mean and ghost someone. Be honest about how you feel and offer an alternative if you are feeling up to it. At the same time, be sure you put yourself out there enough for the new experiences. It can be a little daunting at first, but it gets easier as time goes on.

Have Fun!

You’re young and this is your chance to have the time of your life! Meet new people, even if it isn’t for the sake of dating them, plenty of friendships develop from online dating apps as well. Sometimes you meet someone who you don’t click with romantically, but still have fun with. So instead of going on dates, you just get together to drink coffee and play League of Legends. Like I said, strive for the new experiences and the fresh faces! If you meet someone you want to keep around for a while, that is an added bonus.

Online dating is fun while you are in college, just be sure that you do it wisely with these tips from GradGuard as you go forth with your suitors. Do your research, be open minded, keep your friends informed, and meet everyone in a public place first. Stay safe and have a good time!