15 questions to ask about safety when selecting a college
Choosing a college is a crucial decision that shapes a student's future. Campus safety and security should hold a top priority for prospective students. Personal safety and well-being are fundamental in achieving academic success and enjoying a fulfilling college experience.
Ask the right questions to find answers to your security concerns. In this article, we will look at 15 public safety and security questions to ask when selecting a college.
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1. How is the campus patrolled, and what is the response time?
It's important to know the security measures and resources that are available on campus. Ask about campus patrols and whether the school has a campus security team or campus police department.
Additionally, inquire about the response time in case of an emergency. Response times assess how long it will be before a security team member can be on the scene of a call.
2. Does the college offer emergency alert systems?
Emergency alert systems – such as text alerts – can notify students in case of a campus emergency. These alerts are critical during weather events, and during safety and security events – like an active shooter.
All colleges and universities that accept federal financial aid are required to have an emergency alert system. Be sure to ask if yours has an opt-in system that you must sign up for or an automatic enroll system.
3. Is alcohol and drug use permitted on campus?
Drug and alcohol use can compromise your security and create a negative atmosphere. Find out whether the college permits such activity on campus.
Discover the stipulations for drug and alcohol use permitted on campus. Is it allowed in the residence halls, for instance? Activities like binge drinking can seriously increase safety risks for college students.
4. Are there secure transportation options available on campus?
A secure transportation system can be beneficial during late nights and hazardous weather. Inquire about the college's transportation options and their security features.
Transportation options can include rideshare, safe rides, buses or student escort. Some colleges run shuttle buses to important locations in the community – like stores and downtowns.
5. Is the college located in a high-crime area?
Colleges connect to the communities surrounding them. It's essential to know the crime rate in the college's location.
Check the areas surrounding the college and research the criminal history of the location. Websites like crimemapping.com are useful tools to understand the crime rates – as well as the types of crimes – reported in an area.
6. Do academic and residential buildings have a campus security system?
7. What safety programs are available for students?
Protecting yourself and others is one of the most important things you can do on campus. The type of outreach a college does for their students is critical in keeping a safe atmosphere.
Safety programs such as self-defense classes can help students prepare for and avoid potential dangers. Inquire about the safety programs available to students on the campus.
Through the Jeanne Clery Act, the Department of Education requires colleges and universities to disclose campus crime stats. Take time to review these annual security reports. You should feel comfortable at the college or university you select.
8. Does the college conduct background checks on faculty and staff?
9. Are the dorms secured with access control systems?
Reducing the risk of property theft or other issues inside residence halls and buildings is an important part of campus security.
Access control systems such as key-card entry can secure residence halls and restrict unauthorized entry. This makes common areas safer and reduces the risk of issues in your most vulnerable spaces. Ask whether the college has such a system in place.
10. Is there a clear evacuation plan in case of a natural disaster?
Natural disasters such as tornadoes can be unexpected and dangerous. Find out about the college's emergency shelter or evacuation plan in case of a natural disaster. Is there a plan in place? Does the institution train on what to do in case of an emergency?
Get a clear understanding of how the institution protects students, faculty and staff – and how they prepare for the unexpected.
11. What measures food safety are there?
You will dine on campus for much of your college experience. Food safety is crucial to students' health and well-being.
Good food handling practices can cut down on the risk of transmitting foodborne illnesses. Ask about the measures taken by the college to ensure the quality and safety of their food service.
12. Does the school have a cyber-security policy in place?
In the digital age, cybersecurity is an important aspect of personal safety in higher education. Ask whether the college has a cybersecurity policy in place to protect students from potential cyber threats.
Potential risks include phishing scams, Trojan horse attacks and ransomware. Ask how the college keeps student’s personal data safe from these types of attacks.
13. Is there enough lighting on campus, especially at night?
Poor lighting can make areas of the campus vulnerable to criminal activities. Some research shows there is a correlation between poor lighting and crime.
Find out whether the college has enough lighting, especially in areas such as walkways and parking lots. You can also ask if the campus has “blue light” kiosks where students can dial an emergency number.
14. Are students trained on how to handle emergencies?
It is important to know whether students have the necessary skills to handle emergencies. Inquire whether the college conducts training programs on emergency response.
If they do have these programs, what do they involve? Understand the different scenarios that campuses train students for and why they are important.
15. Are mental health services available on campus?
Mental health is crucial to a student's overall well-being and success. Ask whether the college has mental health services available on the campus. Mental health services might include individual counseling, virtual appointments, or student-athlete support.
You must prioritize a safe and secure environment when selecting a college. By asking the right questions, you can ensure that you’re well protected in case of any emergency. As you search for your ideal college, it's important to remember that a safe campus should always come first.