4 Common Risks to Avoid on Campus
College can introduce students to more independence and responsibility than they may be accustomed to. Since parents are no longer there to guide them, students are left to face risks on their own. For some students, this transition can be difficult. Sometimes, life happens and circumstances change. While colleges and universities strive to create a safe community for all students, there are several risks students and their families should consider and prepare for when heading off to school.
1.) Stress- This is unfortunately one of the hardest risks to avoid in college, since its triggers are prevalent throughout the college lifestyle. With classes, clubs, tests, and socializing it often seems like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, with discipline, this risk can be avoided.
Stress can stem from many sources, a major one sometimes being academics. According to Health Stats from ACHA-NCHA II Fall 2011, 44.0% of students surveyed reported that, within the last 12 months, academics have been traumatic or very difficult for them to handle. Some college students suffer from depression, and such high stress can contribute to it. In fact, in the last 12 months 30.3% of student respondents stated that at some point they “felt so depressed it was difficult to function” (ibid).
For students concerned about the added stress college academics will add to their lives, a key factor in mitigating this risk is getting schoolwork completed as it is assigned. College homework consists largely of reading assignments, and these should not be ignored. Completing assigned readings is often imperative to understanding and passing a course, and doing so will prevent having to cram later on. Adopting better time management skills can help combat stress, and improve overall mental health. If they create a schedule and stick to it, students can have more free time to decompress.
2.) Illness- Sicknesses are also common in college, sometimes stemming from living in close quarters, stress or students simply not taking proper measures to take care of themselves. Student health insurance plans can help with medical costs, but not every student has one. A report from GAO states that uninsured students incurred from $120 million to $255 million in uncompensated care for non-injury-related medical events in 2005.
Living in close quarters with so many others makes it easy for germs to spread, which is why if one person gets sick, often many others in the dorm facility will as well. To prevent this, keeping good personal hygiene habits like frequent hand washing is encouraged, as well as not sharing food and beverages. If a student does feel an illness coming on, it is always a good idea for them to visit their campus health center.
3.) Theft- Unfortunately, theft rates can be high in college due to the amount of people in one area and the lack of privacy for student belongings. For many students, their dorm is not only their bedroom but also where they entertain, so the risk for something being stolen can be high. On average, 30,000+ burglaries are reported relating college students and campuses each year, including nearly 15,000 resident hall burglaries (ED.Gov Summary Crime Statistics for Criminal Acts 2007-09).
While renter’s insurance can cover the loss of items from cases of theft, a student’s existing plan might not cover these costs. However, risks of theft can be lowered if some precautions are taken. Valuables should not be left out in the open where someone could be tempted to take them. Some feel more secure if they have a small safe or a trunk where they can store important items and keep them locked. It is also imperative that rooms get locked, even if the student is only leaving for a few minutes to go down the hall. It does not take long for someone to sneak into a room and snatch something.
4.) Fire- There is also the danger of fire on campus, and something as simple as burning toast can put a college dorm at risk. The most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association shows that there are around 3,800 university housing fires every year. Not only are personal items at risk, students could get seriously injured in the event of a fire.
It is important that students be as careful as possible. Students should avoid leaving cooking or candles unattended. In the event that something starts smoking or burning, students should back away from the fire or heat, and dowse it under water if necessary. Most dorms do not allow certain objects due to their flammability, so it is important to always check and follow regulations. Students should also pay attention to their electronics or lights to make sure that they do not overheat. Some renters insurance plans can help cover the cost of damaged personal belongings from fires, displacement costs as well as liability, but schools themselves do not often cover damage or losses from a fire if the student is held responsible for it.
Insurance can play an important role in mitigating some of the common risks in college. It is for that reason that tuition, health, and renters insurance can be beneficial assets for college students. However, it is also important that students take preventative measures to lessen their risk.
Students should try to keep a schedule and plan things out so they can get work done on time. Feelings of anxiety or depression can be indicators that stress levels are too high. To avoid illness, it is important that students take everyday measures to stay healthy. Practicing good hygiene habits, getting sufficient rest, and eating well can help immensely. Since theft is common in college, doors should always be locked, and belongings should be kept secured and out of plain sight. Students should also be mindful of fire risks, and never leave candles or cooking unattended. The big transition into college life can go more smoothly if students are aware of the common risks on campus, and are proactive in taking the steps to prevent them.