Campus safety may not be the thing you are most concerned about when you are looking at where to attend college, or while you are along for the college selection journey as a parent, but it is something you ought to consider. If you are not in a safe and welcoming environment, it will be much harder to achieve college success.
While you are on campus or looking at a college’s website here are some tips regarding what you should look for in campus safety.
- Get information on past incidents. Colleges and universities are required to publish information regarding past incidents occurring on their campuses. This should be on their website or if you are on campus, you can usually find one at the campus police or safety office. Read it. It gives you better insight into what the campus crime is like.
- Compare reports of schools you are interested in. But keep in mind as you compare reports that you need to compare data apples to apples. Don’t think that just because there were only a few incidents of crime that your campus is safe. Consider the crime in relation to the campus population. It is only logical that smaller campuses will have fewer crimes committed and larger campuses will have more. What you need to look at is the crimes in relation to the student body population. Only then can you make an informed decision.
- Don’t forget to get information for where you will be living. Sometimes residence hall violation information is in the campus safety report, but other times you have to go specifically to the residential life office to get it. Or if you are living off campus, don’t forget to research those crime statistics either. You may be on the safest campus in the nation, which happens to be located in the worst neighborhood in the country. This is something to consider, especially if you are planning on living off campus.
- Be safe on campus once you are there. Just as your dad probably told you, don’t go places alone at night. Don’t leave your laptop out in the middle of the library (even if your school has an honor code). Lock your dorm room door, even if you are just going to the shower (and don’t forget to take your key with you). Don’t leave your iPod, GPS, or other valuables in a visible area of your car when your vehicle is parked. There are many other things you can do—just use your common sense. Also, program the campus and local police numbers in your phone. You would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to having them handy. Some campus security offices even offer services like recording cereal numbers of important devices like your laptop just in case something happens to it.
Follow these tips and you will be on your way to making an informed decision about where to go to college and on your way to college success.