Sending your child off to college can be one of the hardest things for a parent to do. For 18 years, your child has slept under the same roof as you nearly every night. If they didn’t, they were at least at a friend’s house with adult supervision. Now, you’re just supposed to drop them off on some campus, with barely one security guard for 400 students, and in a dorm where there is maybe one resident assistant for every 50 students.
Naturally, this is not an easy transition.
But it’s all a part of growing up! If you’re sending your child to college, you’ve done something (many things) right! Do everything you can before the big transition and send your kids off with these college campus and dorm safety tips.
1. Get them this safety app.
SafeTrek is a unique app that puts the user in touch with the local police without having to dial 911. When the app is activated, the user just needs to keep their finger on the safety button until they’re safely home. Then, they enter a pin to activate the alarm. If their finger goes off the button before they get home safely, the local police will be notified of their location. This is incredibly important in the event of an attack, when your child may not have the opportunity to make a phone call.
2. Take advantage of campus escorts.
Most campuses have safety escort programs. Volunteers or security guards are available to walk students home who do not feel safe. Make sure your child is aware of these, and knows who to call or where to go when he or she needs one.
3. Give them some Uber credit.
Some campuses are so big they feel like little cities. Preload your child’s Uber or Lyft app with a little money and advise them to use this when they cannot find a safety escort or do not feel safe walking the whole way alone back to their dorm. Often, college kids put themselves in danger simply because they were trying to save money, so make sure your child knows you’ll buy them a ride when they need one.
4. Show them all the emergency phones.
Most campuses have emergency phones scattered throughout the premises. These are important in case your child ever has their phone stolen or it dies or breaks during an emergency. In the event of a tower jam that interrupts cell phone service—which can often happen when a school is under some sort of attack—your child can use these phones to call for help.
5. Make sure they lock up every time they leave.
While there may be security guards sitting at the front of every dorm building, that doesn’t mean those dorms are safe. There are usually several entrances to a dorm building and thieves learn the least-supervised routes to get in. During busy hours, it can also just be hard for a security guard to watch everyone who comes and goes. Make sure your child doesn’t rely on campus safety to keep their room safe. They should treat their room like they would your house and lock the door each time they leave. You can equip the room with a smart security system that sends an alert to their phone if they forget to lock up, and allows them to lock up remotely.
6. Give them a safe.
Even if your child locks up, there is no telling who their roommate will bring home. Remember that most freshmen and sophomores have to share a bedroom in the dorms, which means one other person naturally has the keys to their home. Giving your child a small safe gives them a place to hide things like laptops, passports and cash when they leave the dorm.
7. Make sure they don’t let strangers into the building.
College freshmen are eager to make friends, so it’s hard for them to deny a smiling face that wants entrance to their building. But insist that your child only lets people in who have a student ID. Even if they claim they lost it, or know someone inside, your child should not let them in.
8. Purchase them a parking spot.
Campus parking spots can be expensive, but they’re worth getting to keep your child safe. These allow your child to park safely inside the campus, rather than having to park on the outskirts and walk in, where they leave their car more susceptible to break-in.
And remember, leaving home isn’t so bad! There are always safety risks, but that is a natural part of becoming independent: learning to deal with these risks and minimize their likelihood. These tips can make the prospect of releasing your offspring out into the world a little less daunting.