Your Student's Sexual Decision Making

Many college students are in a transitional stage. They are learning to make many important decisions on their own – including decisions about intimate relationships and sexual activity.

By supporting your students, communicating with them, and offering facts and education, you can have a positive influence on their sexual decision making. It’s never too late to start an open dialogue with your student about sex.

W.I.S.E. Tips for Talking

  • Welcome: Be available to your student, treat each other with respect and trust.
  • Interest: Ask about your student’s opinions, friends, and college experiences.
  • Support Good Goals: Ask what your student’s goals are, for both the long and short term, and share your support.
  • Encourage, Educate, and Empower: Give your student the guidance, information, and skills to be successful.

Conversation Starters

Talking to your student about the following conversation starters could open the door for all of the items listed below.

“That song has a good beat, but the song makes it seem like having sex makes you a man (or woman).
Do you think that’s true?”


  • Share with your student what your family value is around sex and sexual relationships during college.
  • Let your student know they have a choice on whether to engage in sexual activity or not.
  • Share with your student how you feel about the idea that having sex is what everyone is doing.

“They never talk about STIs on that television show, even though the show features lots of stuff about sex.
Have you heard about anybody at your school who has been diagnosed with an STI?”


  • Remind your student that unprotected sexual activity can lead to contracting an STI
  • Share with your student that as many as 50% of new cases of STIs occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24*
  • Share with your student that many STIs do not have symptoms, so students should be tested for STIs regularly (this can be done at the DeWeese Health Center)
  • Share with your student that a new vaccine (Gardasil) is now available to prevent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and it is available at the DeWeese Health Center

“I heard that they give out free condoms at the DeWeese Health Center on campus.
Have you seen them?”


  • Share with your student that condoms should be used for all sexual acts
  • Share with your student that condoms are 98% effective at preventing pregnancy, if used correctly and consistently (for example, if they are used for every sexual act and put on before any penetration occurs)**
  • Remind your student that using condoms reduces his/her risk for STIs, such as HIV

“Since you’ve been at Kent State have you met any students who are pregnant or young parents?”


  • Talk to your student about their right to wait to have sex
  • Remind your student that it is both parties’ responsibility to be safe and to prevent pregnancy
  • Talk to your students about various methods of contraception
  • Share with your student that she or he may go to the DeWeese Health Center for contraception and regular gynecological appointments
  • Share with your student that Plan B is now available over the counter for students over the age of 18 and can be obtained at the DeWeese Health Center

"I know that there will be opportunities for you to drink alcohol and/or try drugs at college.
Have your friends been talking about this?"


  • Talk to your student about making his or her personal decisions about sex well before consuming any alcohol
  • Tell your student that when alcohol is involved, it can be difficult to give or receive clear consent for sexual activity

Teach your student the “N.I.C.E.” way to say “No”


Say “No” instead of “maybe” or “later.” Remind your student to set boundaries and be decisive. If your student makes the decision not to have sex before being confronted by the pressure to have sex, it will be easier to say “no” when the situation arises.


Follow with an “I” statement. For example, “I plan to wait several years before I have sex.” Or “I’m not going to have sex until I get married.” Or “Sex isn’t part of my game plan right now.”


If pressure continues, “Change.” Teach your student to change the topic: “Did you see the game on TV last night?” or change their conversation partner: “Julie is over there, I need to ask her something” or change the location: “I’m going back into the kitchen.”


If these strategies do not help, your student needs an “Exit” plan. Your student should know to leave a bad situation immediately. If he or she does not have a way home, he/she should call a trusted friend or adult. Your student can also call a Campus Escort for a safe walk home. It is a good idea for your student to have a code phrase that she or he could say to a friend that will let them know that they need to leave quickly.