College Visits: An Opportunity to Assess Campus Safety
As we enter into the main stretch of summer, many students and families will be embarking on one of the most important and stressful parts of the college search process – college visits. Recently, I spoke about the importance of campus safety at the Clarence Town Youth Bureau’s May Lecture Series event. Below is a recap of some of the tips I shared about using college visits as an opportunity to learn about the quality of campus safety at the schools on your radar.
1. Ask current students at the college for their personal opinions about campus safety. In addition to talking with your tour guide and the college’s admissions office, I encourage families to ask other students on the campus about how safe they feel on campus during the day and at night. Students’ initial reactions and feedback will give you a good idea about the culture of safety on the campus. Also, see what students say in regard to prevention and safety programs available on campus.
2. Ask about transportation options on and off campus. It’s very important to know if there is an on-demand transportation service for students. Some colleges offer 24/7 transportation access on and off campus, while others don’t offer any transportation access. You will want to know what transportation options are available, as well as what hours the transportation runs.
3. Know your parking options. If you’re planning to be a commuter, be sure to check out the location of the parking garage in relationship to the main campus area. If the parking garage is a far distance from the main campus, you may feel uncomfortable walking alone from your car each time you have a class.
4. Explore the surrounding area. It’s always a good idea to scope out the nearest grocery store, bank and airport. If you live on campus, you’ll likely be visiting some of these off-campus places regularly, so acclimate yourself a bit in the community and gauge how safe you feel in the college’s surrounding town.
5. Learn how the college handles emergency communications. Be sure to ask your tour guide and the college's admissions representatives about how the college conducts emergency communications. Do they email and send text alerts? What is the method of communication in the event of a health crisis, natural disaster, etc.?
For the most recent and accurate statistics for any college, visit the U.S. Department of Safety’s website for Campus Safety and Security. Remember, asking the right questions during college visits is the best way to measure how safe you will feel at each school. Making campus safety a priority during your college search will ultimately put you at ease when it’s time to make the final college decision!