Safety is a priority for most colleges, there are several ways you can improve your own safety and keep your belongings secure.

Familiarize yourself with your school’s campus safety office. Your college website likely provides information such as office hours and a phone number, add it into your phone and visit the office so you know where it is located. Request information about any programs they may offer such as Blue Light emergency phone stations, Campus escort services, Safety maps with suggested secure routes, or a safety app such as Campus Safe.

Know your surroundings. Your college campus and its town are likely brand new to you. Download or print some maps and get to know the campus and town. Pay attention to where the more lit or occupied areas are verses the more dim or empty spots. By learning your surroundings, you are less likely to get lost or stumble into an area where you are at a higher risk.

Take extra precaution at night. Crimes are more likely to occur at night. You shouldn’t worry that you are always in danger, but you should take precaution. Don’t walk at night alone, call for a ride from a friend or campus security, download a personal safety app, and always let someone know where you are going and coming from.

Always lock up. You wouldn’t leave your house unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave your dorm unlocked either. Even if you are just running down the hall or next door, you should always lock your door. If you live on a lower floor, make sure your windows are locked and that your blinds are closed when you leave for class or the weekend.

Maintain your privacy on social media. The world of social media is vast and pretty much everyone is there. It also opens the door for everyone to access your information, be cautious of what you post. Even if your profile is private, people have ways of accessing it. Don’t Geotag your photos or turn your location on your posts and try not to announce when you are home alone or away. Make sure to double check your settings both on your phone and your socials before you head off to school this fall.

Be cautious with trust. College is a time to meet a bunch of new people and to make plenty of new friends. It is easy to feel “safe” in this new environment and to feel like you are surrounded by friends. However, you do not know your fellow classmates and should not immediately trust them simply because you go to school together. Like any new relationship, those around you must earn your trust.

Learn how to defend yourself. Whether you are in a new city surrounded by new people or you are in a familiar place, you should still know how to defend yourself. You can sign up for self defense classes in your area. You should also arm yourself with safety supplies. Invest in a whistle or pepper spray to protect yourself in the event that you need to.

College can be an amazing experience. As you adjust to your newfound independence, new classes, and new friends, don’t forget to stay safe and maintain awareness.