College represents a pivotal time in anyone’s life, a chance to enjoy the subjects of your study and meet new friends in a collegial atmosphere. Yet many college students make poor or uninformed decisions that lead to legal complications. Breaking the law as a college student can have serious repercussions, including jeopardizing your chance of graduating and finding employment. There are several ways for college students to avoid run-ins with the law during their time in school.
One of the most pragmatic ways to reduce the chances of legal issues is to live on campus for as long as you are able during your time at college. While living in the dorms is not always the preferred mode of operation, since the costs are higher and the freedom is lower, students who live in dorms not only have fewer legal problems but also have higher GPAs and achievements in school. The residential advisers ensure that questionable activity like drinking or using drugs is minimized, while the university handles all the payments and paperwork to avoid pitfalls.
By far the most common law problem that college students run into is underage drinking. Alcohol consumption is akin to a rite of passage for university students since there is easy access to bars and liquor stores without any parental supervision. The pressure of groups, fraternities, parties, and the opposite sex only increases the chance of drinking underage. While making smart choices and avoiding alcohol before the age of 21 is ideal, it is not always realistic. Students should be sure that anyone providing them with drinks is over 21 and that they have a way to get home safely from parties and events.
Like drinking, narcotics use is higher among college students than any other age group. The easiest way to avoid trouble with drug law in college is simply to avoid usage and to avoid any groups in which other persons consume drugs. While purchasing paraphernalia may seem like a lark, it can result in legal action by the police if found with your belongings. Every university operates confidential support groups for students who abuse narcotics; meaning help is available for anyone who needs it.
A major source of trouble for more and more college students is credit card debt. Since credit card companies aggressively market towards students who have little experience with living on a budget, the average student graduates with several thousand dollars of credit card debt. Failure to pay your debt can lead to a serious spiral, ending with the seller gaining the legal right to repossess purchased goods. Consider minimal use of a card, or completely forgo it altogether.
Like credit card debt, student loan debt weights heavily upon college students. Unlike credit cards, however, it can be unavoidable. Not many students realize that by law they must pay their loan debt back in a reasonable timeframe. Students cannot declare bankruptcy or insolvency from their loan debt. Any student thinking of taking on loan debt for their college courses needs to carefully plan out a payment schedule and aggressively pursue career options that will pay well.
The first introduction to getting an apartment for yourself or with your friends often happens during college. The freedom of living on your own can be a huge source of pride and fun for students, but it comes with legal responsibilities as well. Students who do not pay rent on time are subject to eviction. Those who damage the property are required by law to pay damages. Be careful about rental property and ensure that you keep it in good condition during your time at studying at a university.
John Williams is a writer who blogs in the field of Law. This articles aims to offer students tricks to stay out of legal trouble and to encourage further study in this field with a Masters of Law.