I am presently a sophomore at a small, private, liberal arts college, in the northeastern United States. First, I will start with the important criteria [for survivalists] in choosing a college (after the decision of a major and program you want to be in), which I followed in High School three years ago:
1. Do not choose a school in a heavily urbanized/suburbanized area.
2. Choose a school in a small city or town, ideally with less than 50,000 people and ample farming in the region. (places like Ithaca New York, Burlington Vermont, Amherst Massachusetts, and other small-city sized college towns, their population increases significantly when school is in session and should be avoided.)
3. Look over the area around the school. If it looks bad, it probably is.
4. Look at the local crime rate, economy, etc.
5. After the admissions tour, walk around the campus on your own with whoever you are touring with (Parent, Friend, etc.) and talk to students. The admissions department is excellent at making a college appear better than it actually is.
6. Drive around the city/town where the college is located and see how it feels.
7. If you are in a state like Utah, see what the school’s policy is on weapons, do this by reviewing the handbook. Even if there is a weapons ban on campus, there are ways around this.
8. The school handbook, should also have information about crimes committed on campus. This is legally required under the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990. If the information is not found, it can be located online.
9. If the school is a public school, you probably have the same rights about searches by police and school officials as a regular citizen. [JWR Adds: Check the local and state laws,as well as the school’s policies.] At many private schools your room can be fully searched at any time for any reason. In fact, I signed an agreement of full understanding and giving the school greater rights to search because I live on an “alcohol and tobacco free” floor.
Once one is at school, there are some things that can be done for the sake of preparedness. Sterilite or Rubbermaid plastic storage containers that are opaque and have lockable handles (such as these) can be used to store food, bug-out gear, etc. They blend in perfectly with college settings and do not stand out, I have one large container with my BOB, winter weight sleeping bag, hunting gear, food, and weather specific clothing. If I had to, I could carry it down seven fights of stairs to my SUV and be out of the city with 10 minutes warning. There are a few places that it can be stored. I keep the main storage bin in open sight, two other bins are on top of it and I use them as a table for my shower stuff. If I didn’t have my bed bunked, I would have my bed up on cinder blocks and store them under the bed. No one will second guess storage containers in a college setting.
Weapons are banned from almost every college campus. A weapon is generally defined as anything that can be dangerous to another person or look dangerous. My school has banned: airsoft guns, BB guns, air rifles, paintball guns, all knives of any type, bows, crossbows, machetes, swords, guns, disassembled guns, guns that are incapable of firing ammunition, all replicas of any weapons. One way around this is fairly simple if you’ve got a car, just park your car on public property, such as street curbside. I have had friends that hunt leave their hunting rifles/shotguns, bows, etc. in their truck/car. In some states this is illegal, and even if not illegal, is very risky because a car cannot be secured. Disclaimer: This is extremely risky. Even if the gun is a locked in a bolted-down container, since the entire vehicle could be stolen. It might also be illegal in some states or localities. It would be better to live in an apartment off campus to circumvent any laws or policy restrictions about guns on campus entirely. However, some schools require that all students live on campus. Living on campus for a certain time period (freshman year) is required on many campuses.
One important thing is that one must have a plan to get home or to a more permanent location. College campuses will be less-self sufficient than even someone living in a condo in New York City. Dormitory dining halls bring in workers from the surrounding area to make the food for the college. If the Schumer Hits the Fan, these people will not come to work, and if they do it will be most likely to take food for themselves. Forget about growing food on the grounds of campus. It is naive to think that some else wouldn’t steal it. It is prudent to live within half a tank of gas driving distance to home or a retreat location and have alternative routes. I live several hundred miles from home and must cross the Hudson River, Connecticut River, and many other choke points that will be filled with the Golden Horde and/or are in urban areas because of the interstate highway system. I have planned accordingly, and have extended family members who own a farm that live within 50 miles. I can walk there if I must, but there are numerous alternate routes that I have scouted.
Having a car at college is very important if one’s finances allow for it. I am fortunate enough to have a father who provides a car and fully maintains it. I’m not going to go into much depth about a car, because that is a subject in itself for another article. Basically, an SUV is preferable because it allows for being comfortable when driving places with friends, carrying more stuff for moving into and out of school every year, and it is generally a good BOV compared to passenger cars. They also blend in with other vehicles in most parts of the country. If you’ve got control over the type (all this is from my experience), try to avoid any luxury brand SUV, it rubs people the wrong way to see a late teen/early 20something driving a car that was clearly expensive, agitates the population around the school, gives people the wrong judgment of you as a person, stands out to people that you want to ignore you, and will stand out like a sore thumb when moving to the retreat location.
Socially at college, avoid drinking alcohol. Many drink in their freshman year, but over time those who continue drinking will prove them to be morally bankrupt individuals, and just because “everyone does it”, it does not make it right. It is a colossal waste of money, and time. It is not Christian (if that is how you are inclined), and can lead to leaks of information. Alcohol just leads to terrible decisions, such as compromising OPSEC, and should be avoided. I no longer drink at all, mainly for religious reasons, but also common sense reasons. It is unhealthy and a waste of time.
Keeping religion in the picture at college is also important. I go to a secular school, but continue to maintain Christian lifestyle, more so now than any time before in my life, being exposed to social liberalism and people who lack morals tends to make one realize how lucky they are and to offer prayer for those who have not come to Christ. Religiously affiliated colleges in the northeast tend to be just as socially liberal as secular schools. In my experience, being at school has made me more religious.
Additionally, in regards to friends at college, it is important, at least in my experience, to be living in a [dormitory] building that has a reputation of being academic in nature. I made most of my friends this way, getting along with your roommate is very important. Going to school at a small campus is very cliquish, so one may find it to be easier to find quieter/like minded students on a small campus. One mention about cliques is that drama will probably develop. Ignore it. I am the middleman in half a dozen instances of drama between my various groups of friends. It is petty. Just try to make people understand that there are more important things in life.
If your school offers Army ROTC courses, enroll in the courses for the minimum of two years that do not require a commitment. Sophomores are now being taught the combat life saver course and given other types of training. A career in the military is a viable alternative, they will pay for tuition, and give out monthly stipends, and issue participants gear on loan. I was enrolled in ROTC for one year, and highly recommend it. am planning on joining Army or Air Force ROTC wherever I go to graduate school and serving in the reserves. [JWR Adds: In my experience, the ROTC Basic Camp, which is available without any contractual obligation, is much more valuable for learning “hands-on” survival skills than the ROTC classroom instruction, which emphasizes theory and military history.]
Try to spend as little money off of your meal card as possible. At the end of every semester spend the surplus down on items the school sells at the store. I have been able to buy about a week’s worth of food this way each semester. It just keeps piling up at home, obviously, buy food that is energy dense and that has a long shelf life.
Work hard, academically. I slacked during my freshman year and could have really boosted my grade point average. The early classes are always easier than the upper level classes and now I am finding myself working twice as hard to make up for the mistake. For the record, I am writing this while I am on break, otherwise I would not have had enough time.
Choosing a major [course of study] is important depending on one’s planned [scenario for] survival. I’m more of a slow-decline Peak Oil, dollar collapse (leading to a further collapse) and general preparedness believer, so I decided on a major accordingly. It is possible to have a major that will give one a career, post-TEOTWAWKI. To name a new professions that will still be around (depending on the severity of the crash) are doctors, writers, dentists, some engineers, merchants, and store owners. Being a petroleum geologist could be very lucrative in a slow-decline peak oil situation. The more specialized a major is, the less career opportunities will be available. Don’t major in anything requiring a computer or electricity, such as electrical engineering, Management Information Systems (MIS), [or fields such as] biology, foreign relations, marketing, history, English, et cetera.
JWR Adds: I guess that things have changed since I was in college in the early 1980s. There was a “no guns on campus” policy, but it was largely ignored. My dorm room often resembled a Peshawar workshop. It was where my shooting buddies would congregate for gun cleaning and for gun assembly. I lost count of the number of M1911s and AR-15s that we parted together in that room. We even had a miniature Unimat lathe in the dorm room for one semester. (It was a Unimat DB200, if I remember correctly.)