You may not like what I have to say, but my job is to advocate for the health and well-being of the kids in my care. I can't live with the consequences of not giving them the information. Neither can you. No parent has ever been upset with me. Actually, several commented positively on having "someone else" tell the truth about what goes on. In 23 years of private practice, that's a pretty good record.
It's my impression that parents don't want to be questioned about their activity at college, so they may not cover the following topics with the emphasis that I do. It's also kinda creepy for them to talk to their kids about these topics and frankly, they don't know enough about them as I do because my kids tell me "stuff".
Also, their kids may not believe them. "After all, how would my parents know anything about this?" When I hear that kind of comment, I shake my head and laugh to myself. I guess the kids came about through "spontaneous generation".
I tell my kids that when I attended the University Florida, it was ranked as the #1 party school in the nation. It usually ranks in the top 10. I also tell them that I was a "scaredy cat" kind of girl and was just so gob-smacked about being there and was on scholarship, that I didn't want to take any chances. After watching people vomit all over the frat house lawns, I don't think I was missing much.
Yes, I would love it if everyone went to college and didn't experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol. I have to deal with reality. I can only hope that the family culture has "stuck" and that they conduct themselves consistently with that culture and "partake" less of the partying. I hope, at the very least, that it causes them to stop and think about what is in their best interest. I hope they stop and answer, for themselves, at least 1 of the following 4 questions.
- Can I live with the short-term consequences?
- Can I live with long-term consequences?
- Is this healthy for me (physical, emotional, social, spiritual)?
- What is this person's motivation for getting me involved in this?
The Social/Health/Safety Stuff
- Boys lie. You're likely NOT the one. There are diseases out there now that can kill you. Use a condom or go home.
- Girls lie. You're likely NOT the one and I might or might not have taken my birth control pills for the last week. I forget sometimes. There are diseases out there now that can kill you. Use a condom. You don't want to be a father at this time of your life. If the condom breaks, help problem solve the situation. Don't be a jerk and abandon her. Learn from it. Go with her to get the Plan B pill. Stay with her. Make sure's she's OK. You don't want to be THAT guy. If you're old enough to have sex, be mature enough to handle it. Sex is a very, very powerful event. Very powerful.
- Know what to do if the condom fails because it's past the expiration date or you didn't put it on correctly because you were "in a hurry". Call a local pharmacy. Pharmacists know everything. Go to the student health center. They are likely to recommend the Plan B pill. The problem is not as immediate as you might think. You have about 72 hours to deal with the contraception issue. Don't trust the 72 hours, go NOW. If you're female, purchase it before you need it so you don't get nervous and jerky about the whole thing. You're an adult. You're responsible for your life now. Your whole life.
- Know what to do if the condom fails and your partner "may or may not" have HIV, "I'm not sure". As for HIV, you'll need to go to the emergency room or call a doctor. There is a "morning after" treatment called "postexposure prophylaxis" or PEP. You're an adult now. You're responsible for your life. Your whole life.
- Don't expect your partner to be there if "something" goes wrong. You get pregnant, you get herpes, you get gonorrhea, you get HPV (human papilloma virus), you get HIV. "Nuh, uh, it wasn't me"...Be responsible for yourself.
- Did you (male and female) get the three HPV shots? Oh no? Wanna get oral cancer? Wanna get cervical cancer? Get the shots. If you think three shots are bad, wait till your hooked up to "jet fuel" (chemotherapy) after the doctor has removed most of your tongue. You're an adult. Be one.
- Date a boy or girl once or twice and suddenly, they're in love and can't live without you? Don't even think about trying to handle this on your own, especially if s/he starts texting you/calling you/following you incessantly. This may be a part of the Borderline Personality Disorder. The situation won't get better on its own. Let them move onto someone else. As long as it's not you, I can't worry about it.
- Have a crazy, drunken roommate who brings guys in and has sex with them all night? (A real situation in my practice.) Get out, get out now. Call anybody and everybody. Call me. I've got a great track record of "putting the fear of G-d" into university personnel to extricate you from these dangerous situations. The situation will not get better on its own. Once you are sexually assaulted or have a terrible scare, you can't rewind that clock. When folks are drunk out of their minds, they have no idea with whom they're having sex. They don't hear you when you scream in their ear. They just don't.
- Don't want to see "intimate" videos of yourself with your partner all over the internet? "Engage" with your partner in your own room. You can be sure there are no hidden cameras there.
- Somebody tries to be "too close, too fast". Watch it. Just because you go to school with them, doesn't mean they're healthy. Make them earn your trust. Someone who doesn't know you declares with surprise that s/he has the same likes, dislikes, beliefs. Uh oh.
- Have your "refusal" skills ready. What are you going to say or do when...you need to get away from someone or out of somewhere? You really need to know who you can count on and it's not the friend who is the first one falling down drunk.
- You should be able to enjoy a few drinks and not worry about your safety. That's not the real world. Girls, if you drink or use drugs, you're safety is immediately at risk. I wish it were different, but it isn't. Watch your drinks carefully to avoid being drugged. Purchase a container that snaps closed and keep it with you. Don't allow anyone to refill it...anyone. You just never know when your best friend will have a lapse in judgment on the way to get a refill.
- Don't go to a group social event (frat party, etc.) without a friend or two. Keep tabs on each other. You are responsible for each other, especially before you get your "chops" as to who is around you and "what' goes on.
- You've never lived with strangers before, especially this many strangers from all over the country and world. It's different now. It just is.
- Don't take anything to college that means the world to you. It will disappear.
- Don't advertise that you take medication and don't let anybody see you taking it. If so, "they're vitamins" or heart meds, whatever. Lock it up, especially antidepressants and stimulant meds. They're big sellers on campus. If you're taking medication, consult with your treating physician about the timing of taking your meds and partying. If you cause a medical emergency, you might be asked to leave school. Know the school's policy about conduct that can get you tossed out. It will be a life-altering experience, trust me.
- Know where the health center is and their hours of operation.
- Know how to reach campus police. Know where the emergency call boxes are located.
- A college campus only feels safe. It's not really true. Predators are everywhere. Ask for an escort when going to your car or back to your dorm or anywhere if you feel unsafe, especially at night.
- Don't post sexy selfies. This is a super great way to attract stalkers.
- Post your location on social media once you've left the scene. Don't help people victimize you.
- Head up and on a "swivel" when you're walking. Don't listen to music, Know who's around you. Don't become a victim of your phone.
- Do I have to say to lock your doors even if you're going to be gone for a "sec"? How long does it take to snatch your backpack or handbag?
- Tell your trusted person where you are going and when you are returning. Text them as a reminder. Text them when you are leaving. If you don't come home, the cops will know when you were at your last location. It's a big deal.
- Take pictures, of your valuable items along and record the serial numbers in case they get stolen.
- Keep your keys out as you approach your destination. Have your pepper spray, a light and a whistle handy. Scream "fire" if you're being attacked. Someone will act. People are afraid of fire. They may not care if you're being assaulted.
- If you have a "cutesy" girl car with all kinds of "girl" stuff hanging from the rear-view mirror and a vanity plate that says "Susie" on it, a predator will know exactly which car to stakeout at the mall. [I learned this from a Florida State Trooper who scolded me for putting a plate on the front with my name.] Clear the stuff off the seats and put it in the trunk or a container with a top when you're in unfamiliar territory.
- If you're headed out of a mall and you're concerned, take off at a trot and look as though you're on the run, so you're more of a "challenge" to someone watching you.
- Listen to your instincts. If you don't like the "looks" of a person or a situation, trust your feelings. Instincts may save your life.
- For the first trimester/semester/quarter, take the fewest classes that will make you a full-time student. Give yourself a chance to get accustomed to your setting. So much will be new that you have to divide your efforts in too many places if you take a demanding class load. Take a combination of easy and challenging classes. If you get sick, it will be very difficult to make up the work and the grades. Remember, there's nobody there to take care of you. You're doing it all.
- You may think you have "so much time" because the classes are spaced out in such a way that you're not intensely busy every second of every day like you were in high school, but beware. "Time intoxication" is real. You're likely to think you have all kinds of time, but you don't. Assignments will sneak up on you. Professors don't care. They've heard it all. Assignments, usually, will be submitted online. If you wait to the last minute and "something" technological happens, you're doomed. Even if it's a legitimate "excuse", they're 99% not going to believe you!
- Your grade may depend on two tests only...the mid-term and the final. Review your class notes 5 minutes for each class every night. That way, the information really sinks in and you stand a good chance of passing the test.
- If you have accommodations, use them! Seek out the help of the Student Support Center if you have the slightest "whiff" that you're having a tough time. People are there to help you. They don't want you to fail. They'll lose tuition money!! You don't know what you don't know, so get in there, frequently, to make sure you're on track at least for the first half of the first year. You DON'T want to go home because you didn't judge the situation correctly.
- Worried about going to a big school? Chances are, you'll be attending classes in just a few buildings. You can do it. Just take the first step. Be bold! Most other students are just as anxious as you are-yes, they are! Anxiety and excitement feel the same in the body. Figure out "what" you are feeling, but go anyway.
You're at college to go to college, after all. Take care of business!
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