College in the City: Dos and Don’ts For Staying Safe

The city is a wondrous place filled with different people, places and magical experiences! Going to a city school is exciting and different. You have everything the school has to offer as well as everything the big city has to offer!

Take advantage of what’s in front of you, but be careful. Through my experience at DePaul University in Chicago, I learned a lot of dos and don’ts for survival on city streets. If you plan on attending a university in a large urban area, please take note of these tips.


  • Check the Weather. Before you venture through the city, it’s essential you check the weather. Whether you commute from suburbia or live nearby class you will want to know the weather so you can be ready for the day. Last thing you want is to be stuck with a light jacket in below freezing weather or without an umbrella during a rainstorm. All weather conditions will seem amplified in the big city. I have experienced firsthand extremities in weather while at school in the windy city.
  • Dress Appropriately. Once you have the weather in check, dress for it. Save yourself from impending doom. Also, wear comfy shoes. Chances are you will do a bit of walking if you attend a school in the city, so save yourself the blisters!
  • Know Your Surroundings. The city is a huge place! It’s unlike any other college campus. There are going to be stores, buildings, offices and other people everywhere. You will see much more than college students and faculty. Know where you are. Know streets and locations. It’s essential for getting around, staying safe and helping others who may be lost. It’s good to carry a GPS or smartphone with GPS capabilities in case you do find yourself lost. The city opens up possibilities for very interesting class field trips that may require you to find specific museums, parks or other various places off campus. Knowing your surroundings helps you get around painlessly.
  • Pay Attention to City Events. This was something I learned the hard way. Oftentimes there will be large events going on in downtown Chicago or any city for that matter. I’ve run into multiple protests with huge numbers of picketers that have taken up whole street corners. They made it really difficult to get through, and I was stopped by multiple people. Things like movies being filmed, construction and other events take up the space of entire streets and multiple blocks as well. You may be required to take different routes. These are situations where it’s essential you know your surroundings. Be aware of the things you may run into by keeping up with city news.
  • Have a Walking Buddy. If possible, walk with another person. It’s always safer to abide to the buddy system.
  • Carry a Little Extra Cash. This is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give. Chances are if you go to school in the city, you will be taking advantage of public transportation almost every day. Last thing you want is to lose your bus or train pass and be left stranded somewhere. Carrying some extra cash is great for feeling secure. It also allows you to buy lunch if you need to or get last minute supplies while your out and about.


  • Don’t Bury Your Face in Your Phone. Unfortunately, crime is more likely to happen in the city. Be aware of your surroundings by not letting yourself get too distracted. Keep an eye out for any strange behavior. The city is full of random people, and you should always be aware of those around you. Not to mention the traffic (both in cars and in walkers): I personally have found myself distracted by my phone and have almost walked across the street while cars were near. Plus, you should be paying attention to walking traffic. Don’t embarrass yourself by running into others. Keep your head upKeep this in mind when you are on public transportation as well.
  • Don’t Ignore Crosswalks. Oftentimes city dwellers will decide to walk across the street even though the crosswalk sign says not to. However, not all of these people have the best judgement. A car may be moving much quicker than it looks or there may be a car you just don’t see. Don’t be in such a hurry. It’s not worth getting hurt!
  • Don’t Wear High Heals. If there is a situation where you must wear heals, throw them in a bag and change into them when you get to your destination. Not only do high heals hurt your feet, but the city is full of grates, cracks and oddball things on their streets and sidewalks. I’ve seen many ladies who probably wished they didn’t wear heels. Don’t make it difficult for yourself and keep those stylish efforts indoors!
  • Don’t Be Rude. No one likes the rude person who has no respect for other city goers. Don’t stand in the middle of a sidewalk to chat with your friends and don’t push or shove others if you are in a hurry or your too busy staring at your phone. Treat others how you would like to be treated.
  • Don’t Help Pickpockets. Keep your belongings zipped up. Don’t place your wallet or cell phone in your back pocket. The city is a busy place, and stealing is more likely to happen while you are walking through the congested streets.

Staying safe and smart on campus is important no matter which college you attend. So, keep these tips in mind the next time you are headed to class!

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Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman

Molly Stallman is a senior at DePaul University working toward an English degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Digital Cinema. Molly especially enjoys spending time with loved ones, listening to music, watching movies/television and playing with her dogs. She also has a passion for antiques, crafts, animals, photography and the great outdoors.