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Articles / Applying to College / Student Safety Tips Beyond the Standard Fare?

Sept. 17, 2008

Student Safety Tips Beyond the Standard Fare?

Question: College students are often warned about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, date rape, unplanned pregnancies, and STD's ... although much of this advice, unforuntately, is met with rolled eyes or deaf ears. But what other safety suggestions can you make to first-year students that they may be more inclined to heed?

While caution when dealing with strangers and strange neighborhoods springs to mind, I suspect that this, too, may fall under the in-one-ear-and-out-the-other rubric. The same goes with, "Make certain you ride with only safe and sober drivers."


But two safety issues that students might be more apt to consider if warned are:

#1. Fire hazards: Candles are illegal in most dorms, but this rule is commonly disregarded, and unattended candles cause many campus fires and even loss of life. If you want to create "ambiance," try replacing a standard light bulb with a red one. Skip the flames! Also, when I was in college, a student put a towel over a lamp to dim it, apparently to effect a romantic mood. Instead, she started a serious fire. Mercifully, most of the damage was the result of the sprinkler system, not the smoke or fire, but that certainly put a damper on her love life ... so to speak.

#2. Pedestrian crossings: Even though I live in a pretty tame college town, there have been two students killed and several others injured in recent years. These accidents took place when the students were crossing the street, often in a marked crosswalk. Students tend to forget that not all drivers obey crosswalk laws, and some students simply bolt out in front of traffic, many with iPods blaring or in mid-phone-chatter. Such accidents are tragic .... and so easily avoided.

I hope that CC members will add other good safety suggestions that students might actually keep in mind as they start their college careers. Even little quirky things that may be specific to only a few kids or campuses (e.g., Gorge caution at Cornell) would be helpful.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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