What every 18-year-old woman should know heading off to college for the first time
Safety First Girls - Independence Second
I wish I could just write a hub about this year's fashions for freshmen women entering the collegiate arena for the first time. I wish I could write a hub about the most popular majors or how to rock English Literature 101. But all that needs to come second, a distant second, to what you really need to know about going off to college for the first time.
You are not going to Disneyland. You are not going to summer camp where the gates are locked at 10 p.m. You are going to a place where your own personal safety is primarily up to you. These are the facts: one of the most dangerous times in a woman's life is the first six weeks away from home at college. It's not so dangerous because of a failure of colleges and universities to be concerned about the safety of their women students. It's not so dangerous because campuses have a higher than average number of criminals and predators. It is so dangerous because young women, away from home for the first time, and inexperienced with the independence they have suddenly achieved, too often don't know how to leaven that freedom with precautions that previously were provided for them by parents, teachers, coaches, and counselors. They are on their own. And they need some information.
Don't get drunk. Just do that and you will have removed most of the risk to your first weeks at college. If you do drink, do it with people you know you can trust - not with people you've just met and you assume you can trust. And remember at all times: you are breaking the law. There are consequences.
When you go to a party, bring your own drink in a bottle with a cap on it. When you are not drinking from it, keep the cap on. If you set it down, do not pick it up again. You will save yourself myriad problems if you don't drink alcohol until you are of legal age, but if you do, pump your own beer, or mix your own drink, or watch the bartender make it. And the same rule applies at a bar as at a party. If you set the drink down and walk away from it, you're finished with it.
Go to parties, restaurants, and campus events with a group, and when it is time to leave, don't leave without all the people in your group being accounted for. Don't let the group leave you with a "great guy" you just met. Give him your number if you want to, but leave with your friends. And don't accept a refusal to leave from a member of your group. Wait for her, or insist it is time to go, and the group will not leave without her.
Don't go out at night alone. Wouldn't it be great if we lived in a world where a woman could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted? Yes, it would. But we don't, and we can't. Taking your dog with you isn't enough. Nothing good happens after dark. Anyone ever tell you that? It would be nice if it were not the case, but it is.
If you do find you've inadvertently stayed at the library too late, or your group of friends have left a party without you, call the campus police for an escort home. That's their job. Don't hesitate to ask them to do it. Another option is to call a male friend you know well, and ask him to come walk you home. If he's a friend, he'll do it. Don't feel foolish doing either of these options. Someone who has already been away at school for a while will know it is just common sense.
Lock your doors, in your dorm room, your apartment, and your car, at all times. Pay attention to your surroundings, and if something feels wrong trust your instincts. Don't take that shortcut, or that stairwell, or that alleyway.
I'm not writing this hub to spread fear. I'm writing it because it is a truth young girls need to know and learn how to live with in their first weeks away at college. Is every freshman woman in danger of date rape, abduction, or some other crime? No. Colleges work extremely hard at making sure their students - female and male - enjoy a crime free college career. A small percent of the student population will have these unfortunate experiences, and some in spite of taking all precautions. The point of this hub is for you - if at all possible - not to be one of those few.
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