This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates, Interview with Seth and Caroline Tillman. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Vicki’s five homeschool high schoolers are all graduated from college now, even her youngest, Seth and his newlywed wife, Caroline. Seth and Caroline loved their years of homeschooling. College was a big change for them both but they loved it and made the most of their experiences there by getting involved in college activities and mentoring relationships. They also made lots of friends.
From the many experiences they or their friends had, Seth and Caroline offered to share some safety tips for homeschool high schoolers who will head off to college (or anywhere in the big, wide world).
So here are Seth and Caroline’s tips for college safety and fun for homeschool graduates
Seth is a elementary music education teacher in a local public school. Caroline first worked in the retirement industry but recently transferred to the University of Delaware as academic advisor and assistant to the UD Health Professions program. Both of them have had the adventure of spending part of their year teaching or advising remotely. (Check out Seth’s videos for his music students.) They believe in paying the things they have learned forward to current homeschoolers to help them prepare for college or employment situations.
Safety Tip #1: Walk in a group
As often as you can, especially at night. If you will be late at the library, call a friend and talk to a friend while walking and use “Find My Friend” app on your phone. (Predatory people tend to prey on lone individuals, so groups are best when possible.)
Safety Tip #2: Lock your dorm or apartment doors when you leave
You would think this is not something you really need to tell teens. But Caroline shared that she saw the poor outcome of roommates or friends not locking doors a number of times. (Keep a key on a hair tie if you find keychains are too cumbersome.)
Safety Tip #3: Ride share advice
Ask the driver what YOUR name is. Make sure they and their car look like the descriptions you were told when ordering the ride. Also look for the lit sign in the windshield of the car (Uber or Lyft have signs). If you can, ride with a friend on the ordered ride.
Safety Tip #4: If you are walking around with listening to music or podcasts, leave one earbud out
This makes you more aware of your environment, especially for crossing roads but also for unusual things that might need your attention.
Safety Tip #5: Use the share your location app on your phone
But only share that with close, safe friends. It is not a social media app!
Safety Tip #6: Have a friend who leaves their phone on sound at night for you (and you for them)
If you have car trouble, locked out of their apartment or are in an uncomfortable situation, phoning a friend can be a life saver.
Safety Tip #7: When going on college tours what kind of campus safety measures are in place at the school.
For example, at University of Delaware there are safety blue lights regularly around the campus for calling for help. It is so important for schools to be considering safety of their students!
Safety Tip #8: When going to an event, make sure that at least one or two of your group will stand up for you
Let there be an understanding that if things get uncomfortable, you can say to your friend, “I need to go” and they will actually leave with you.
Okay, now for some uncomfortable topics. Sometimes we homeschool parents try so hard to shelter our teens, that we find it extremely difficult to discuss “adult” topics with our young adults as they leave for college. (As Seth says, your kids are not kids anymore when they leave for college, they are adults…young adults but adults, so need to be prepared for an “adult” world.) Naivety will not work for new adults.
Safety Tip #9: When encountering alcohol, if you see someone heavily intoxicated, please do not leave that person alone
Be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone who is not okay, call the university police or 911. If it is someone you know and you feel safe, help them get back to their dorm. When calling 911, remember it’s better to have folks mad at you about it than have someone die from alcohol poisoning. Also, there is usually a medical amnesty policy that protects you from getting in trouble when you call 911.
Safety Tip #10: Know what alcohol poisoning looks like
From Mayo Clinic’s website: confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, irregular breathing, blue-tinged or pale skin, low body temperature, passing out and cannot be wakened.
Seth and Caroline graduated from a state college. Seth points out that alcohol is common in state colleges, so they were not surprised to see these kinds of things. He also has lots of friends who went to small private or Christian colleges. In the smaller schools, these things happen, too (but mostly in secret).
Safety Tip #11: Monitor what you are drinking
This is difficult to talk about but important. No matter where you are whether restaurants, parties or get togethers. Vicki jumped in on this to add that, as a counselor who works with college students, she has worked with a number young women who have been “roofied” (a date rape drug slipped into their drink) while at a public gathering. So:
- Keep a lid on what you are drinking when possible
- If you go to the bathroom, have a trustworthy friend watch your drink
- If you start to feel bad and feel like you are “blacking out” and you do not have a trustworthy friend with you but are at a public place, ask staff for help
- If you feel frightened, call 911
Safety Tip #12: If you are choosing to drink (or have friends that choose to drink) alcohol, understand that not all alcohols are alike
Some are stronger than others. Learn about it ahead of time.
Safety Tip #13: Offer rides if you have a car
Of course, keep boundaries (some people might think you are an endless free ride) and remember that you can offer but not everyone feels comfortable accepting rides.
Safety Tip #14: Offer your dorm to a safe friend if they are stuck on campus late in the evening
Of course, only if you know they are safe friends
Safety Tip #15: Know what harassment and consent look like
If you see someone who appears uncomfortable, (and you are safe) walk up to the person who looks uncomfortable and talk right to that person. If you do not feel comfortable, feel free to call 911. Don’t just walk away, err on the side of keeping people safe.
If you are in an uncomfortable situation and do not feel safe, it is okay to lie in order to stay safe, as in: “Sorry, I can’t go with you, I have to meet my roommate here.” Or give out a fake phone number. Remember that actually if you find you are making someone feel uncomfortable, stop and walk away.
Safety Tip #16: Take a self-defense class
It is a genuinely valuable investment of time
Safety Tip #17: Parents: teach your male sons to be respectful
Teach them to be gentlemen. Teach them no means no. Teach them the value of all God’s creation. Teach them good manners.
NOW before you feel terrified for your young adults (and also we aren’t advocating for any unhealthy behaviors, we just don’t want young adults to be naive), here are some GOOD things that happens in college:
- Going out to eat with classmates so you get to know them better and enjoy class together more.
- Inviting classmates to study groups at the library (especially those in your major)
- Joining a healthy fraternity and sorority (not all of those organizations are about partying and wild living, rather some are about service or building their major)
- Joining the university choir
- Joining an interest group or club
- Getting an on-campus job (Caroline worked in the college creamery, Seth worked in events)
- For more tips on making friends in college, check out this post
Check out one of Seth’s elementary music classes (the school was online this spring due to COVID-19).
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College Safety and Fun for Homeschool Graduates