Crisis Averted: How To Avoid Disaster In College 

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For many teenagers, college is the first time they are given a chance to fully experience life without the guidance of their parents. Some think, "Yea! Party time!" while others are thinking, "Okay, let's not screw this up." The minute your parents walk out your dorm room door, things are going to get interesting. Or, to be a little more blunt, life is about to hit you in the face.

The good news is that there are plenty of healthy habits to prevent college disasters. Many of these habits are simple and may even seem like common sense, but the "it'll never happen to me" attitude prevents a lot of college students from making smarter decisions.

I have heard quite a few helpful hints given to college students concerning academics, but the most valuable piece of advice actually came from someone not affiliated with my school: my mother. It did not matter how many times I assured her I was taking her advice, she just kept repeating herself, as most mothers do: "You have to communicate with your professors and advisors. You have to tell them when you are worried about your grades, and you have to ask for help as soon as you realize you need it."

As time went on and I took more classes, communicating with my professors and advisors not only helped me improve my grades, but it also landed me a few on-campus job opportunities related to my major. Good grades and a job that looks good on a resume? A mother truly does know best.

Although she proved to me that she knew what she was talking about, my inevitable "it'll never happen to me" attitude prevented me from taking note of another valuable piece of motherly advice. As a sophomore in college, my precious tablet died. Yes, my beautiful black and silver electronic contraption died in my arms one morning before my geology class. I was frantically plugging my tablet's power source into different outlets, hoping I could perform a miracle. After an hour of trying to bring my tablet back to life, I rushed to an electronics store to diagnose the problem. I received the worst news possible: My tablet was gone forever. There was no way to fix the problem and all of my schoolwork was lost. With none of my notes or projects saved to another memory source, I was forced to reread several chapters in my textbook and collaborate with professors and other students to recover all the information lost. Lesson learned: A few minutes of transferring information to another memory source (USB!) could save a college student from days and even weeks of trying to recover information.

We are all familiar with the saying, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas." In some instances the same could be said about college. All students have at least one crazy college experience that they hope their parents never find out about. Whether you've escaped disaster so far or you've already faced it, students need to have healthy habits to prevent an unwanted situation.

Drinking alcohol and partying has become such a prevalent pastime during college years that the entire party atmosphere has become a cliché in TV shows and movies. It is also common to associate drugs with the party atmosphere, something no college student needs to get mixed up in.

If you're going to a party and expect to drink, bring a group of friends with you. Just like all the safety videos teachers made you watch in high school, designate a friend to remain sober to drive you home. If you're going out to a bar, make sure you are able to see your drink being prepared by the bartender, rather than accepting a drink from a stranger. Some college campuses may offer alcohol safety classes, which provide a great opportunity to remind you of these small but important details.

Lastly, remember those awkward "my body is changing and I don't know what's happening to me" videos that you watched in grade school? All the information you learned back then will become especially relevant if you chose to be sexually active in college. In a pool of thousands of students, there is a much greater chance of contracting an STD or infection. It is very important to protect yourself and others from an undesirable situation. A campus health clinic may be able to help you brush up on sex education, if needed.

Some people see college as the golden ticket to a fun time, while others put academics first. No matter your opinion, safety should be on your mind at all times. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation, trust your gut feeling and get to a safer environment. When you're taking a break from the nightlife and showing your textbook some affection, don't forget to back up your computer. Lastly, remember to communicate with your professors and advisors. They will help you avoid academic obstacles and guide you closer to your degree and a successful future. Thanks, mom.

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