Getting Prepared For Your First College Trip

What to expect on a college trip, and how to stay out of trouble.

School trips in college are vastly different from trips in high school. Some college students don't handle their first trip well, because they don't know what to expect. However, a little preparation will ensure that you have a good time and don't get in any trouble.

First, you are an adult now, and have adult privileges. Typically, there are no chaperones on college trips. The only "adults" that go are the group leaders. Thus, there is no one to chase after you -- make sure you're at the bus on time, make sure you have all your things with you, make sure you don't break any rules or laws, etc. This requires you to be entirely responsible for yourself.

Men and women will be allowed to go in one another's hotel rooms, and may even be allowed to have mixed-sex hotel rooms, depending on the group leader. Most people will handle this very well; others may think it's a great night for a party. However, realize that you're legally responsible for your behavior. You can get in trouble if you lock your roommates out of the room. If you have a not-so-private party, you can get in trouble in many other ways. A hotel with guests other than your group is NOT the place for such a party.

Alcohol may be an issue. Since at least a few of the people in your group are probably over 21, there is no rule against drinking. Realize, though, that if you get drunk, and get caught, you're in trouble. Also, if you are over 21 and you supply the alcohol to underage people on your trip, you will be in legal trouble. It's usually best to avoid these issues entirely.

Keep track of your things at all times. There are no chaperones to make sure everyone has their luggage. Pack only what you can carry and keep track of. Don't bring things you don't want your roommates or group members to see (even though no one's checking what you're packing). Even though there are no searches, don't bring drugs or anything resembling drugs. It could fall into the wrong hands too easily, and you may have a lot of questions to answer, even if what you have isn't really illegal.

Wear a watch. You're not required, typically, to stay with a buddy, and obviously not with a chaperone. You will have to be back at the bus or other meeting place at a certain time, and "I went off on my own and I don't have a watch" is not an excuse for being late. If you can't get a watch or forget one for some reason, always stay with someone who has a way to tell time. Bring your cell phone along, if you have one, so you can tell time AND call someone if you're unfortunately going to be late or you get lost.

Realize that while there is no one to enforce behavior rules, you are representing your group the entire time you are on this trip. Don't behave in a way that would reflect badly on your group, and don't rely on others to ask you to change your behavior.

Going on a college trip can be a lot of fun. Just remember: you're an adult now, with all adult decisions to make. You have the freedom of an adult, but you also have the responsibility of one. If you balance your play time with your responsibility, you'll have a great time on the trip.

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