In 2012, 30.4 percent of Americans over 25 had at least a bachelor's degree and 10.9 percent had a graduate degree. That's a decent chunk of the population, but you wouldn't know so many of us have been to university given the sort of suggestions floating around the internet about what to put into a care package for our recent high school grads who are heading off to get their degrees. It's like we've completely forgotten what college was like. Stuff happens in college, and if young adults don't go in thinking about it, they don't go in with a plan. And when someone doesn't have a plan, the chances of tripping over the speed bumps life puts on the road to a degree grow exponentially. Before we start, let's get a few things out of the way. This young adult is not a child. They're going to drink. They're going to meet people. They are going to have sex. They're probably already having sex. If you don't want to accept this (highly likely) scenario, stop reading now. But if you want to make it so that this young adult is equipped to make the right kind of decisions as often as possible, come with me.
Drink Safe Tech is a company that provides tests to detect two common date rape drugs -- GHB and Ketamine -- right at a party with just a few drops of the drink. The simple tests can be bought as strips ($7.50 for 10) or customizable drink coasters (I'm not sure if putting a family photo there is weird or awesome). In any event -- those tests don't ascertain the presence of Rohypnol, another substance often used in drug-facilitated sexual assault, but the United Kingdom's Drug Detective (around $35.00 for a pack of 12) does -- along with a number of other drugs in the benzodiazepine family. That's probably a better bet.
It's a lot more likely that someone will use condoms if they have access to condoms -- even more so if they have identified a type that they really enjoy. This is equally true for a recent high school grad. The company Lucky Bloke provides samplers that include up to 24 different standard-sized and larger-fit condoms ($23.98 each) -- your best bet is probably 12 packs of each ($13.98) or their Not Sure What Size sampler of 12 condoms ($14.98). A non-latex sampler is available for those with allergies. Oh, and don't forget to throw in a lube sampler ($16.99) -- putting lube inside the condom goes a long way in reducing breakage. Of course, if all this is too much to think about, go ahead and grab a gift card and leave it up to them.
Image by D. Robert Wolcheck (Flickr).
Oral can be just as risky as vaginal or anal in terms of the possibility of transmission, so while you're making it rain condoms on the recent grad, you might as well add dental dams, thin strips of latex meant to protect both parties during oral-to-genital contact. Glyde makes flavored dental dams that make them less of a drag to use -- they even have licorice and vanilla ($0.99)! Another good bet is an assorted flavor ten-pack of Line One Labs dams ($10.97). Non-latex dams are available from GoodVibes.
And because there is absolutely nothing worse than trying to take an exam while one is stressing out about a condom breaking and needing to high-tail it to the nearest clinic as soon as possible, you might want to consider picking up a couple of Plan B One-Step over-the-counter emergency contraceptives and maybe a home pregnancy test. First Response offers a home kit that can be used as early as six days before an expected period. By the way -- I'd include the emergency contraceptive, pregnancy test and condoms in a care package regardless of the gender of the student. It takes two to tango, you know.
Additionally, you should pick up a pack of these cards from Bedsider ($5.99) to drop into care packages like this one, to help young people you know find birth control methods that best work for them. A pack of 50 would last you until the end of days. Then again, if you decide to write it all down on a notecard instead, make sure you write in the link to these pointers about how to have a safer sex conversation with a potential partner and a link to this video about the emotional aspect of the safer sex conversation.
These items can make navigating college a lot easier, especially for sexually active co-eds. Keep an open mind and be supportive. You never know when someone will have questions and need a listening ear.
This article was modified from the orginal which first appeared on The Slantist.
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