Transition Chat: Safety
Regardless of where in the world students have lived or from where they hail, transitioning to college and a new environment requires some consideration of safety. Particularly for those of our students who are accustomed to other cities or urban cultures for their entire lives, it is important to consider a number of factors related to keeping oneself safe. As such, we ask that you come up with a safety plan as a family and consider the following:
What are the resources available in regards to safety?
Please consider these additional, more pointed questions:
Where are local hospitals in relation to your college? Police stations? Fire stations?
Alumni Advice: Learn all of the local safety numbers and program them into your cell phone and share those numbers with your family!
Alumni Advice: Talk through possible scenarios so that you have a plan of action before there is an emergency.
Where will you seek medical care while at college? Is there an on-campus doctor or clinic? Or are there off-campus options?
In regards to medical care, what will be the extent of your medical insurance coverage? Most colleges provide some sort of insurance, and some require all students to be enrolled. Will you remain on your parents’ insurance as well? Do you have a copy of your insurance cards?
Do you have all of your medical paperwork? Aside from insurance cards and information, do you have your vaccination records and other medical history documents?
Alumni Advice: Create a DropBox or Google Drive folder with all of your important medical information in it. Take a copy with you when you go to college, but be sure to have digital copies stored somewhere secure!
Do you know where the local Emergency Room is? And do you know what typical ER protocol is in terms of when you should visit an ER and what to do when you are there?
Do you know your blood type?
Do you know the difference between an ER and Urgent Care centers or clinics? Or are there other alternatives in your college town?
What is your comfort level with basic first aid? Where can you buy basic medical supplies local to your university? Where can you get bandaids?
Alumni Advice: My college charges a fee for all visits to the campus nurse or doctor. To avoid these fees, learn basic first aid and talk to your parents about medicines!
Have you examined your university’s campus safety/security program and offerings? Most schools have a campus emergency number. (Program this one into your phone, too!)
Is there a campus blue light system or the equivalent?
Have you examined any maps of your destination city in regards to safety as well as public transportation options?
Are you aware of what the “buddy system” is? (Learn and practice it always!)
Do you have relatives or family friends nearby? What are their addresses and phone numbers? Program them into your phone!
Have you considered who might be an emergency contact? Some universities will require an emergency contact within the country of the school. (If this is a point of concern, contact the international student office; they will have answers for how best to answer these questions.)
Are you aware of legal differences between your home and your host state/region/country? For example, consider open-container (alcohol), legal drinking ages, weapons (what constitutes one), sexual consent, etc.
Alumni Advice: While it is not uncommon for citizens to argue with police in other parts of the world, this is unacceptable and even illegal practice in other countries, such as the US. Show police respect always!
Alumni Advice: Use good sense: don’t flash valuables around or allow yourself to be the victim of crimes of opportunity.
Alumni Advice: Always be aware of your surroundings, and, for example, take out headphones when walking home alone, especially at night.
Alumni Advice: Do not text or talk on the phone when crossing the road.
This piece is part of a series on “transitioning to college.” We encourage graduating seniors and their parents or guardians to engage in discussion on a weekly basis about these topics. If you have feedback or additional ideas or perspectives to share, please let us know so we can incorporate your thoughts into revisions of our posts.