Crime is a fact of life at colleges and universities around the United States. That should come as no surprise considering that 18 to 25 year-olds commit more crimes in our country than any other age group. Parents and students shouldn’t hesitate to question the school’s crime statistics. This information as well as the following tips can help keep your child from becoming a victim:
- Your child should always travel in groups or use a campus escort service after dark or early in the morning. He or she should never take short-cuts, jog or walk alone at night.
- Encourage your child to share his or her class schedule and phone list with you and other friends.
- Help your child study the area around the campus and the college neighborhood. Identify potentially dangerous areas and where the campus emergency phones are located.
- First-year students should decline having any photos or personal information published for distribution around the campus. This type of publication has been used to target freshmen.
- Check out the social scene by driving through the “fraternity row” on a Friday or Saturday night. Stroll through other places where students gather. How are the students behaving? Are they abusing alcohol or other drugs? The less contact your student has with alcohol and other drugs and the people who abuse them, the safer he or she will be.
Tips for Students Living in Dorm Rooms
- Dormitories should use “key cards” rather than the standard metal lock and key system. This makes it much easier to make a lock change when a key card is lost or a roommate moves out.
- All dorms should have good window and door locks. Entry doors should have “peep holes.” Remind your child that he or she should always lock doors and windows at night.
- At night, dormitories should lock all outside doors. There should be a central lobby or common entrance where access is closely monitored. It should have an outside telephone that requires visitors to call a resident for access.
- Dormitories should have security patrols to check for doors that are not completely closed or have been propped open.
- Remind your child not to leave valuables such as wallets, laptops or ATM cards in plain sight.
- Help your child to program his or her telephone with emergency phone numbers including police, fire, family and friends.
- Encourage your child to get to know his or her neighbors, and not to be shy about reporting strangers who are loitering and/or engaged in illegal activities.
Healthy Advice for College Students
Unless your student is living at home, you probably won’t be around to offer healthy advice. Here are some ways you can prepare your child for college:
- Make sure your child knows his or her medical history. Make a written list that includes inoculations, hospitalizations, allergies and diseases.
- Make a list of your child’s existing medications and medication schedule. Get extra prescriptions and identify a pharmacy near the school for refills.
- Make sure your student has health insurance. He or she should have an insurance card and understand when to use it. This insurance should be over and above what’s covered by the student health service.
- Encourage your child to visit the school’s health facilities whenever he or she feels sick, physically or emotionally. Discuss the importance of preventative care and counseling services.
- If your student has a chronic illness, find a local specialist before classes begin in case of an emergency.
- Send a small medical kit with your child to college that includes band-aids, gauze tape, thermometer, aspirin and/or ibuprofen, antacid and anything else that specially applies to his or her medical needs.
- Discuss the symptoms of the common cold and flu and how to treat them. Stress that if your child has a temperature of more than 101 degrees for more than a day, he or she needs to go to the student health center.
- Stress that many illnesses in college are directly related to lack of sleep. Pulling “all-nighters” and not getting enough sleep aren’t helpful to good health or good grades. Headaches are often a signal of too much stress.
- Give your child correct information about nutrition so that he or she can avoid the fad diets. Vitamins are a supplement to good nutrition, not a substitute.
- Talk to your child about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis. Students who practice unsafe sex stand a good chance of contracting one (or more) of these diseases.
Once you and your child have developed a plan to pay for college, it’s a good idea to discuss how he or she will pay for everyday expenses. In general, your child should plan on between $200 and $400 a month in spending money for living expenses and school supplies. If your child lives off campus, his or her expenses may be higher.
Stress the importance of maintaining a budget. Help your child create a plan to handle everyday expenses:
- Develop a budget prior to the beginning of school.
- Determine who will supply the spending money and how frequently it will be sent. Discuss what will happen if your child runs short of money.
- Establish a bank account in the town where your child will be studying. Find one that has a good relationship with the school and with students. If your student has a checking account for the first time, teach him or her how to set up and maintain a checkbook.
- Remind your child to keep the checkbook and the ATM card in a safe place.
- Record the bank’s ABA routing code and the student’s account number in case you need to wire money.
Students and Credit Cards
Credit cards are now a fact of life for most adults. The same is becoming true for college students who often receive a credit card regardless of their credit history (or lack of one). Some colleges have credit counselors to help those students who have fallen deeply into debt.
If you allow your student to have and use a credit card, keep these thoughts in mind:
- Make sure your child understands how to use the credit card in relation to his or her budget.
- Emphasize that proper use of a credit card can help your child establish a good credit history.
- Remind your child that over-charges and late or missed payments can cause severe damage to your child’s credit rating.