Campus Safety a Factor for Most in College Choice: Survey

The majority of current and prospective college students say they considered campus safety when making their school choice.

Updated September 7, 2022

Campus Safety a Factor for Most in College Choice: Survey
Survey Reports
Photo by Grace Cary / Moment / Getty Images

  • 65% of current and prospective college students said school shootings make them concerned for their safety on campus.
  • Despite this, nearly three-quarters of current college students say they feel safe on their campus.
  • Over half still say their college should be doing more to protect them at school.
  • Most current and prospective students say stricter gun laws and on-campus police officers would make them feel safer.
  • Current and prospective BIPOC students are significantly less likely than white students to say campus police make them feel safe on campus.

As continued incidents of gun violence plague the U.S. and Campus Safety Awareness Month shines a national spotlight on student safety concerns, staying safe may be at the forefront of students' minds while returning to school this fall.

In a new BestColleges survey of 1,000 current and prospective undergraduate and graduate students, more than half (56%) say that they worry about campus safety. And 65% say that school shootings in particular make them concerned for their safety on campus.

The majority (60%) also say that campus safety was a factor they considered when choosing their college.

Prospective graduate students are significantly more likely than current graduate students to say they worry about campus safety as someone who will be enrolled in an on-campus program (63% vs. 49%).

Most Current Students Think Their School Should Do More to Protect Them on Campus

Despite their safety concerns, about three in four current college students say that overall they feel safe and secure at school (74%) and that their college prioritizes their safety on campus (70%). But 57% still say their college should be doing more to protect them at school.

While only a tenth of current students say they do not feel safe and secure on their college campus, 42% say that in the past 12 months they have heard about or witnessed incidents that made them concerned for their personal safety on campus.

Current college students who are millennials (ages 26-41) are significantly more likely than those who are part of Generation Z (ages 16-25) to say that they've heard about or witnessed concerning incidents in the past year (55% vs. 37%). Millennials are also more likely than Gen Z to say they believe their school should be doing more to protect students on campus (65% vs. 54%).

Current college students residing in the West (71%) are significantly more likely than those in the Northeast (58%), Midwest (54%), and South (51%) to say they believe their school should be doing more to protect students on campus.

Stricter Gun Control Laws and Increased Police Presence Make Some Feel Safer On Campus

The majority of students (63%) say stricter gun control laws would make them feel more safe on campus as a current or future college student. Only 17% of students disagree.

Most (65%) additionally say that the presence of campus police officers makes them feel, or would make them feel, more safe or comfortable on campus.

Current and college-bound BIPOC students are significantly less likely than white students to say that the presence of campus police officers makes them feel, or would make them feel, more safe or comfortable on campus (59% vs. 70%).

Millennials are significantly more likely than Gen Z students to say they feel safer with campus police (73% vs. 60%). Millennials are also more likely than Genn Z to say stricter gun control laws would make them feel more safe on campus as a current or future college student (69% vs. 59%).

Those currently residing in the South (57%) are less likely than those in the Midwest (64%), West (66%), and Northeast (69%) to say that stricter gun control laws would make them feel more safe on campus as a current or future college student.

Current Students Feel Educated About Campus Safety Measures at Their Schools

Over two-thirds (69%) of current college students say that their school has made efforts to educate them about campus safety measures and emergency procedures. Only 12% of students disagree.

The majority of current students also say they are subscribed to their school's campus alert system or emergency notification network (78%). A tenth of students (10%) say they are not subscribed, 7% say they are unsure, and just 5% say their school does not have an alert system.

Overall, most students are worried about their safety while on campus and want their schools to do more to keep them safe. But today's college students are also taking an active role in staying aware of emergency situations that may arise and believe their schools have made efforts to prioritize safety and educate them about how to stay safe while on campus.

Methodology

The survey was conducted from July 7-13, 2022. Student respondents were fielded by Lucid LLC. Survey participants included 1,000 respondents nationwide who were currently enrolled in or planning to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college or university in the next 12 months. Respondents were 16-65 years of age and currently pursuing or planning to pursue an associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, or professional degree. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.