College students shouldn’t have to fear for their lives on campus, and parents shouldn’t have to constantly worry whether or not their children are safe at school. Most college students share the lackadaisical “It’ll never happen to me!” attitude when it comes to violent acts and crimes on campus, even though bad things can happen to good people. The Virginia Tech shooting that occurred on December 8—the second deadly tragedy to rock the campus in less than five years—is proof of that.
Just as prospective homeowners or renters should learn about a neighborhood’s crime statistics before moving in, students and their families are urged to research college campus safety when applying to schools.
“Student safety and campus crime are sometimes overlooked during the college evaluation process. We believe it is important for students to be aware of crime on campus and in the surrounding community,” explained Dominik Mazur, founder of StateUniversity.com, the Internet’s leading website for college and university information.
For that reason, StateUniversity.com has released its 2011 rankings of the safest colleges and universities in the U.S. The Top 10 Safest Colleges and Universities are listed below; the complete 2011 Safest Schools rankings are available online.
1. Arkansas State University, Beebe Campus — Beebe, AR
2. Louisiana State University — Eunice, LA
3. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise — Wise, VA
4. Lake Land College — Mattoon, IL
5. Central Texas College — Killeen, TX
6. Delgado Community College—New Orleans, LA
7. Erskine College and Seminary — Due West, SC
8. Southern University at New Orleans — New Orleans, LA
9. Virginia Western Community College — Roanoke, VA
10. Edison State College — Fort Myers, FL
StateUniversity.com analyzed crime statistics as reported by 450 of the largest U.S. colleges and universities to assign a safety score, ranging from 0 to 100, to each school. The underlying statistics are compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Determining factors include the number of occurrences of aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, theft/larceny, motor vehicle theft, forcible rape, and murder on campus. Due to the fact that larger campuses would be reasonably expected to have a higher number of total incidents, safety rankings are then weighed based on the probability of each incident happening to each student. Violent crimes are given more weight in the ranking system and have a greater effect on the safety rating than non-violent crimes, such as theft.
Students and parents can easily view the Safest Schools by State as well as the underlying crime statistics. The statistics are presented alongside the rankings lists for quick reference and comparison.
Findings are interesting because there is no apparent connection between campus crime rates and perceived academic quality. Large state universities and prestigious colleges—schools that are “household names” across the country—are scattered throughout the list. In fact, you won’t see many well-known colleges or universities in the top 50 safest schools.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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