Students Are Changing College Locations Based On Shootings

Shootings at school campuses around the country are having a huge effect on how students are making their decisions about where to attend college.

A report this week from Newsweek highlighted that there have been a total of 53 school shootings in 2023 so far, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. There have also been more than 30,000 deaths related to gun violence in the country.

It’s something that is impacting where students are choosing to go to college – something that most students before them never had to consider. While campus safety has always been a concern, the type of security that students are having to consider is completely different nowadays.

BestColleges conducted a survey recently that found that 65% of current college students and prospective students said that school shootings are making them concerned for their safety while on campus.

That’s obviously a huge number, and it’s affecting whether students are applying to colleges, and whether they’re deciding to enroll at the school if they’re accepted.

The survey also found that 60% of respondents said that overall campus safety was a major factor they consider when making a decision as to where they should attend college.

The current generation of students who are attending, or about to attend, college were born into a world where school violence was already front and center in society. The infamous school shooting in Columbine High School in Colorado happened in 1999 – which was five years before some of this year’s incoming college freshmen were even born.

These young students watched news of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut unfold just like the members of the generations before them watched Columbine in horror.

Now, more and more of these students are having to deal with school shootings first-hand.

Noel Harris, who’s a senior journalism major at the University of North Carolina, spoke with The Associated Press following the August 28 shooting at his campus, saying:

“I felt myself just being scared and shocked, but then not shocked at the same time because it’s like, this happens every day.”

When students are assessing a campus’ overall safety, they aren’t just looking at a school’s response to a school shooting, but whether the school has policies in place to protect students in the first place.

Laws vary across the country as to whether guns are legal to carry on campus, but that doesn’t stop the violence from happening, of course. After all, it was against state law to carry a firearm on any university campus in North Carolina, but the UNC school shooting still happened.

BestColleges found that more than half of all students say that their college needs to be doing more to protect their safety while they’re on campus. A majority of those students believe that police officers stationed on campus, as well as stricter gun laws, would make them feel safer.

Still, it’s uncertain what is going to effectively stop school violence, and what would convince prospective students to choose, or not choose, a particular college based on security measures in place.