10 Safety Tips for College Students

College Safety Tips

Attending college is full of new experiences, friends, opportunities and excitement. It can also present dangers which can be avoided with a little mindfulness. Here are ten college safety tips that are easy to implement and will go a long way in enabling a fun and safe college experience.

  1. Familiarize Yourself with Transitional Spaces
  2. Carry & Know How to Use Pepper Spray
  3. Do Not Impair Your Senses or Judgment
  4. Be Safe When Using Uber & Lyft
  5. Configure Emergency SoS on Mobile Devices
  6. Safe Social Media Practices
  7. Communicate with Family & Friends
  8. Choose Your Friends Wisely
  9. Safety in Numbers
  10. Have Reliable Transportation

1. Familiarize Yourself with Transitional Spaces

Transitional spaces are areas that you must pass through in order to get from one area of relative safety to another. A high percentage of crimes and assaults take place in transitional spaces.

College campus are full of transitional spaces. These include parking lots, stairwells, hallways, lobbies, libraries, garages, locker rooms, etc. It is not possible to avoid transitional spaces. Rather, you must mitigate the risk associated with these danger zones.

Before entering a transition space, free yourself of distractions such as a cell phone, headphones, clutter in your hands, etc. Assess the space you are entering from a safe distance. Look for anything that is out of the norm. If possible, do not enter a transitional space unless there are others present. Move with a sense of purpose and belonging, all while spending as little time as possible in the transitional space. If you have made the decision to carry pepper spray, have it discreetly in your hand ready to be deployed.

2. Carry & Know How to Use Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is one of the most effective, easy-to-use, non-lethal weapons available. Pepper spray requires little training and is permitted on college campuses. It is an inflammatory agent that works against those under the influence of drugs and alcohol, as well as dogs. The effects are immediate but wear off in about 30 minutes.

The key to using pepper spray effectively is to have it in your hand prior to the confrontation. You will not be able to locate your pepper spray and position in it your hand after an attack has started. Discreetly carry your pepper spray in your hand and do not advertise you have it. If someone finds out you are carrying pepper spray it should be because they were sprayed with it.

Mindful Defense recommends the Plegium Smart Pepper Spray. The smart pepper spray is a Bluetooth-enabled device that connects to your smartphone.  When fired with the press of a single button, the Smart Pepper Spray does five things in less than one second.  Pepper spray is deployed, an alarm is activated, a disorienting 3-LED strobe blinks 19 times per second, emergency contacts are called and emergency contacts receive a text message with a link to a Google map with your exact location.

3. Do Not Impair Your Senses or Judgment

In order for a crime to take place, three things must be present, desire, ability, and opportunity. There will always be people with the desire and ability to do harm. However, they need opportunity. Opportunity is the component you control in the crime triangle.

Consuming drugs and alcohol impairs your judgment and makes you an attractive target. Aggressors look for easy prey. They look for victims of opportunity. Having a diminished capacity makes you stand out like a sore thumb. Think about it. Stumbling around, slurring your speech makes you an attractive target.

4. Be Safe When Using Uber & Lyft

Criminals impersonate Uber and Lyft drivers and pick up unsuspecting passengers, especially single women. Here are 8 things you can do to minimize the risks associated with these services.

  1. Do Not Stand Outside 
  2. Verify Name of Driver
  3. Have Driver Confirm Your Name
  4. Verify Your Ride
  5. Ride in Back Seat
  6. Share Your Trip Details
  7. Don’t Share Personal Info
  8. Don’t Impair Judgment

For additional details on Uber and Lyft safety, read our blog dedicated to this topic.

5. Configure Emergency SoS on Mobile Devices

Learn how to use the emergency features of your cell phone. Apple and Android cell phones have SoS emergency features. The Apple Watch also has this feature. With the press of a button, 911 can be called, emergency contacts notified and an alarm activated.

College Safety Tips Emergency SoS

One of the benefits of using the SoS feature of a cell phone is that help can be summoned discreetly. You can have the phone in your hand and call 911 by simply pressing a button. There is no need to be looking at the phone and no one will know what you’re doing. This is important because if you are with someone who poses a danger and they see you using your cell phone, they will most likely take it from you. Never announce that you’re going to call the police. This is a threat that could escalate the situation.

Learn more on how to configure emergency SoS on your mobiles devices.

6. Safe Social Media Practices

Lock down your social media profiles so that only those you allow can see your content. Time lag your postings so no one knows your whereabouts until well after the fact. Keep in mind that even though you may trust those who have access to your social media, you cannot control who uses their devices. You have to assume everything you post is public and permanent knowledge.

7. Communicate with Family & Friends

Make your family and friends aware of your routine and keep in touch. Doing so will alert them if something is out of the ordinary. If you are going out with someone new or to an unfamiliar place, let others know of your plans. Establish check-ins and a plan in the event a check-in is missed.

8. Choose Your Friends Wisely

It is always a good idea to surround yourself with those who make good decisions. Surround yourself with positive people and influences. It is very easy to have some trouble hanging around on the periphery and then get dragged into it.

There is nothing wrong with leaving a situation if it makes you uncomfortable. Always put yourself and your safety first. You can find new friends, but you can’t find a new life.

9. Safety in Numbers

Discuss with your friends prior to going out how everyone is going to get home. What if someone wants to break off from the group? Ideally, no one should go home alone or with a stranger.

Date rape drugs are far too common. Once ingested, you have no way to defend against such drugs if you’re alone. If you’re to the point that you’re realizing you’ve been drugged, it’s much too late to help yourself. Control what you drink at all times. The best way to defend against date rape drugs is make a pack with your friends that under no circumstance does anyone go home without a trusted friend.

10. Have Reliable Transportation

Earlier we talked about the danger of transitional spaces. A breakdown in transportation can put you in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you have a car, keep it in good working order. Realize that a vehicle breakdown isn’t just a inconvenience, but can also put you in harm’s way.

Always keep a cell phone with you. If your car does break down, call for help. Don’t get out of the locked vehicle in an unfamiliar area.


College can present a lot of unknowns. Unknowns can have the potential to compromise your safety. However, with good decision-making, proper planning and vigilance, these risks can be mitigated. The college experience is a balance of academics, fun experiences and safety.

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