DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a college junior who moved far away from home to explore more of life's opportunities for a young man. I attend a historically black college and have managed to maintain a good name for myself when it comes to the social and educational aspects on campus. But there's a plot twist. My younger cousin will now attend the same university next year. This brings up so many red flags. It's not because of her; it's the people and the guys at the school -- some of whom are my friends and associates. The girls at the university can attract drama, and the guys are savages for women. My hope is that she can enjoy college while still being the young angel she is. I think I should have a talk with her before school so she knows I'm here if necessary. Do you have any advice for a young lady beginning college? -- Big Cuz, Washington, D.C.
DEAR BIG CUZ: Consider it a blessing that you will be on campus when your younger cousin comes to town. Definitely have a talk with her where you describe the lay of the land. Point out all of the positive attributes of the school and campus, and highlight the things she should be wary of. This includes people. If you know that there are unsavory folks from whom she should keep her distance, be ready to let her know. This doesn't mean that you provide her with a list. Instead, suggest that she check in with you as she is making friends and building relationships so that she can gain intelligence about the people you know.
Be careful not to come across too heavy-handed. This is likely her first time away from home. The last thing she wants is to have her cousin playing her puppeteer. Be gentle and clear that you want to support her on her journey.
For any young female about to attend college (and males, too), remember the values you were taught growing up, even when your parents are not around. Take your time to get to know people. Focus on your studies, and enjoy the social scene in moderation.