There is an ugly side of college life that is not always clear to students, a side that all parents should discuss with children who are in college or about to enter college.

Unfortunately, there is an amazing number of deceptive and harmful people out there who will try to take advantage of young and inexperienced students. Most often, this involves people trying to take their money, their personal information, their innocence and their feelings of security. Let me remind you of some.

Scams - Most scams try to do one of two things: 1) Take your money, or 2) Take your identity and personal information, so they can take your money. Since most scams are over the internet, students must always be alert to the possibility that the person on the other end is trying to steal from them. Savvy students keep their personal and financial information to themselves. They recognize that free offers are often just a way to obtain private and confidential information.

Drugs - Every college student has access to drugs. Some students sell drugs for the money and hope that they can hook a buyer who will then purchase more drugs. They don’t care if other students become addicted and ruin their lives.

Gambling - There is an element on every campus that regularly plays poker for money and bets on college and professional sporting events. For many, gambling is an addiction. In any event, students can quickly get in over their heads.

Alcohol Abuse - Too many college students engage in underage drinking, irresponsible drinking games, binge drinking and drunk driving. These are self-destructive, life threatening behaviors that must be avoided.

Smoking & Smokeless Tobacco - Tobacco companies are known to aggressively market tobacco products to college students. Free products and T-shirts are meant to lure new users. However, dying early from the effects of tobacco products is not cool.

Credit Cards Debt - Credit card companies are eager to sign up college students. They offer easy credit because they know that many students graduate with credit card balances in excess of $3,000. That is their goal.

Hazing - This experience still exists at some colleges and sometimes gets out of hand. Before you join a sorority or fraternity, investigate their history, policies and leaders. Don’t do anything that is dangerous, immoral, illegal or just doesn’t feel right.

Campus Theft - Theft is common on most college campuses. Be sure to protect cash, credit cards, computers, cameras, cell phones, electronic equipment, games, jewelry and other valuables. Report all thefts to campus security.

Campus Safety - At night, when walking around campus or in town, travel in groups of three or more. Don’t split up. Larger groups usually offer greater security. Ask for a campus escort if you are concerned.

Muggings & Assault - With so many students and non-students allowed on open campuses, muggings and assaults will take place. Be alert and travel in groups. Report suspicious people and activities to campus security. Consider taking a Police sponsored, self-defense and violence prevention course.

Stalkers - Although rare, stalking does take place on college campuses. Report the problem to campus security and/or the local police. Keep a detailed log of any encounters or incidents that place. If possible, supply security with a photo of the stalker. Ask all of your friends, professors, advisors and campus security to keep an eye out for you. Always try to travel with a group of friends or ask for an escort. Get counseling, if needed.

Rape & Date Rape - Anticipate and avoid people and situations that may lead to trouble. Prevention is your best ally. Alcohol is a girl’s greatest enemy. Most date rapes take place when the girl has had too much to drink.

Unprotected Sex & STD’s - Sexually transmitted diseases exist on every campus. When students are sexually active, abstinence, protection and medical treatment are needed to deal with these issues. Know the facts and find out where to get help.

Anticipation and prevention are often the best ways to minimize these problems. Don’t wait! Seek help immediately from counselors, advisors and campus or town police. When you quickly take action, you can usually prevent the problem from escalating. In many cases, the perpetrator will back off when others become involved. Don’t try to handle everything yourself.

If necessary, work your way higher and higher in the campus hierarchy to get help. The Dean of Students, the Vice President of Student Affairs and The Office of the President are all there to help you. When you are not satisfied with the response of a campus official, don’t be afraid to move up to the next level.

Visit Bob’s web site: Bob Roth is the author of The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College -and- The College Student’s Guide To Landing A Great Job.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Roth, a former campus recruiter, is the author of The College Student's Guide To Landing A Great Job -and- The 4 Realities Of Success During and After College. Known as The "College & Career Success” Coach, Bob also writes articles for nearly 200 College Career Services Offices, Campus Newspapers, Parent Associations and Employment Web Sites. Additionally, Bob has developed 20 Self-Scoring Learning Tools that help college students find success. He has been interviewed on numerous radio programs across the country and also by many newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. Lastly, Bob serves as an Adjunct at Marist College, teaching a course in Career Development.