At my college orientation last week, excitement was high. With the start of school just 1 week away, new students are looking forward to their new sense of freedom. I saw many of my classmates and their families buzzing with cares and concerns. No question was the same. Parents were asking about transportation and professors. Students wanted to know about dorms and parking passes. No question was wrong or unimportant, and each needed to be answered. But, after one of the presentations my college showed us, I realized that I had it all wrong. I realized that I was missing some of the most important information.
My college made a direct point to address the bad reputations universities have in America. In one presentation, the college president addressed 3 main problems: alcohol, drugs, and public safety. A lieutenant from the local police station stepped up to inform parents and students. It turns out my college takes big steps to ensure its students are safe at no cost. Here are some important questions to ask the college your freshman is going to.
1) What steps are being taken to educate students on substance abuse?
After many surveys taken at my university, the officials found that nearly 80% of my classmates will not use marijuana more than once. In fact, only about 3% would use it recreational. These numbers are significantly lower than other colleges because the university takes the opportunity to educate. They always make sure to remind students that they are in the majority when they say no. Knowing this, less and less students are feeling pressured to try the drug.
2) What is being done to ensure my student is safe?
My college teams with the local police department and an app to help students feel safe. In the event that a student does not feel safe, a single button on the app with call a police officer to escort them to their classes. Some events that were addressed were if they were being stalked, bullied, or if there was severe weather. That same app will allow you to set timers when travelling from home to school and, if your timer runs out and you don’t stop it, it alerts your family via text and call. You can also submit anonymous tips to the police station. The app, called rave, is utilized by many universities in America, so make sure to ask or even suggest it when looking at colleges.
3) What happens in the event that you are attacked or accused of attacking another person?
The system set in place in most universities is that each person in an altercation will have a chance to tell their side. The university is not allowed to punish until both sides have been given a fair chance to explain the situation. This does 2 things: welcomes you to report a situation and lowers your chances of punishment if falsely accused. In addition, the college also operates independently of the police station so it is up to the victim whether or not to press legal charges.
4) What is offered for your student’s mental and physical health?
The stories of college sound awful: weight gain, stress, fatigue. Every student needs a place to relax and stay healthy. To go along with some healthier meals at our cafeteria, my university offers students free use of a gym 24/7, just up the stairs from the cafeteria. To help study, they have study nooks in the library, free tutors available, as well as computers and other resources. In the stress of finals week, some of the upperclassmen go around with free snacks and set up games to help relieve the stress. But, if ever a student is going through too much, there is a free psychiatrist located on campus for the students to use. See what programs your student’s dream university offers to help him/her stay on top of their game.
College is a big step, and while new students are officially “adults,” we need guidance to help us make it through our first year. Make sure your student is looking at the important stuff. Yes, financial aid must be figured out, but what things are effecting the students on a daily basis? And what is the school doing to make sure those effects are as positive and productive as possible?