I made this list for my niece in 2000 before she left home for college. Pass it along to the young women in your life.

Dear Niece, here are safety-survival pointers before departing for University: 

Staying safe as a woman in college is about being aware, maintaining your wits, and remembering why you’re there. Getting the most out of college means taking challenging courses and exploring new topics.

Guidance for Safely Consuming Alcohol as a College Freshman

  1. College kids drink alcohol. You don’t have to. (Don’t even think of experimenting with drugs.)
  2. If you insist on drinking, don’t have more than two drinks at a time.
  3. Don’t drink around handsome boys. They impair your judgment as much as the alcohol does.
  4. If you drink, never drive.
  5. Never let any of your friends drive drunk. Make a scene if you have to, but don’t let them drive drunk. Don’t get in the car with a drunk. Ever.
  6. I am always only a phone call away. When you need me, call. Any time, any day.

Safety on a College Campus

  1. Don’t trust everyone. Don’t be cynical.
  2. Always lock your car.
  3. Check your car when you get in.
  4. Seatbelt your backpack/purse beside you.
  5. Drive with your car windows up when going through town. When you’re stopped at street lights, people can’t reach in.
  6. Don’t flirt with strangers; they could belong in John Douglas’ Anatomy of Motive book.
  7. Avoid giving unknown/newly met men your phone number. Arrange to meet them in the student union or some other place full of people. Stay in comfortable surroundings until you really feel sure of him.


Advice for Your Collegiate Studies

  1. Study hard. You’re paying for your college education.
  2. Take courses you’re passionate about–think in terms of what makes your life happy, not what fills your wallet.
  3. You’ll have strong professors and you’ll have lousy ones. Learn from each of them.
  4. If you have a class you’re doing badly in, get a tutor. In a class you’re doing well, find someone to tutor.
  5. Keep your GPA up. You have no idea how important it is until you want to go to graduate school!
  6. Take as many offbeat electives as you can; they may open delightfully unknown doors!
  7. If you need money for an event–a concert, a speaker you would love to see, a field trip–Call!
  8. Spend four years being serious about yourself, not anyone else. You’re fundamentally what matters. Until you’re taken care of, you cannot take care of others.

Other College Survival Advice

  1. Develop an exercise regime. Physical movement and a good sweat make you feel better.
  2. Eat right. It helps your brain cells study.
  3. Don’t bother getting addicted to coffee–it’s not all we adults crack it up to be!
  4. Maintain a savings account; even if you can only put five dollars in it a month–the security will mean everything to you.
  5. Cursing doesn’t make you sound tough; it makes you sound angry and small. Remember, words are your tools to betterment.
  6. Cool is defining your individuality. It’s not driving fast, smoking pot, or having lots of boyfriends. Cool is who you are right now, already.
  7. Giggle as if you’re a three-year-old. They have the best fun. I saw that in you and your brother repeatedly. 

Don’t Forget About Your Family

  1. Know that whatever you need, whatever you have questions about, your parents are there, they love you and will always give you hugs of love.
  2. Remember to email and write your grandpa. He loves you more than you’ll ever know–but you’ll always feel it in his hugs and in his kisses!
  3. Be aware of the world around you. Don’t miss a chance to watch the sunset, hear a bird sing good morning, or decide what the clouds resemble. School is not all-encompassing, life is.
  4. When you don’t have time to write letters, send postcards. Your friends & family miss you more than you know. [Cards beat out texting!]

Share this bit of college advice–and safety tips–with your girlfriends. I guarantee you they don’t have an Aunt who loves them as much as I love you. It’s simply impossible.


Aunt RoseMary


Read: Mother’s Good Advice

Different advice: Tips for Starting College