I’ve actually already done a couple of college move-in days (as a freshman and as a younger sibling) so I’ve put together these 20 tips for college move-in day. Move-in day is super exciting for so many reasons – but honestly, it can be a bit too much. Super stressful if you’re not well prepared.
But you can do this!! With advance planning and preparation – you can make this so much easier and less stressful. And if something doesn’t go as planned – well, there’s always Target:). Haha, no seriously – even with your best plans, you’ll likely encounter bumps in the road. Keep things simple, organized and here are my best tips and tricks to help you on your move-in day.
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1. BRING A DOLLY OR MOVING CART
Most residence halls will have big rolling bins available for move-in, but they only have so many or if they load for you, stuff in the car, or if you are running to Target or Bec Bath later or the next day, bring a dolly or collapsible cart to make the trek up to your dorm room from the parking garage much easier.
2. FOLLOW SCHOOL INSTRUCTIONS FOR ASSIGNED TIME SLOT AND ARRIVE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.
Figure out when your residence hall opens, or when your move-in time is, and plan on arriving close to that time in the side of arriving early. At The University of Alabama we were assigned a time slot but we arrived early so when they started lining up our cars, we were in the first grouping. You should obviously stick to whatever your school assigns you, but the earlier you get there, the more time you’ll have to get settled. Move-in day is CRAZY in most bigger schools.
3. PACK YOUR BEDDING LAST, UNPACK IT FIRST.
All of the 20 Tips For college move-in are great tips to follow but if you only follow one of them, this one should be it.
Pack your car so that your bedding is what you can grab first. Bring your mattress pad, bed bug protector, blankets, sheets, and comforter in so that you can make the bed first. That way, you won’t have to worry about having all of your bedding on the floor, and you can use the bed as extra space for your things.
4. PROTECT YOUR MAKEUP
To avoid breaking your makeup, use cotton rounds to protect it during the move. Then wrap with plastic wrap to keep in place. A cotton round fits nicely inside of powder compacts, and smaller cotton balls will fit inside of eye shadow palettes. This tip can save your palettes – nothing worse than your new urban decay palette getting totally destroyed before you even get to really use it. Am I right?!?!!
5. PACK ESSENTIALS IN A WEEKENDER BAG
College move in day is stressful. So much emotion. Your parents are probably on edge too. Literally everyone around you is hot, tense and full of emotions. Bring a bag with all of your essentials— a fresh outfit, shorts, tee, hairbrush, dry shampoo, ponytail holder, phone charger, deodorant, make up wipes, foundation, mascara, toothbrush, etc.—so that you have what you need on hand.
6. PACK YOUR CLOTHES ON HANGERS
This was impossible for me because I brought way too many clothes. Don’t do what I did. Bring just enough – and if possible, purchase thinner hangers and pack your clothes on hangers. You don’t want to waste your move-in day hanging them all up.
7. PACK YOUR BINS BEFOREHAND
Before leaving home, decide where you’ll be storing towels, snacks and supplies. Pack all those items in their bins at home – literally a lifesaver on college move-in day.
8. LABELS ALL BOXES AND BINS
Label all of the bins, bags, boxes etc with what is inside, and make sure to label on the side of the bin for visibility when they are stacked. PRO TIP: If you number them you’ll know if you are missing anything.
9. BRING A COOLER
As I mentioned earlier, all of the 20 Tips For college move-in are really good tips but some will make a bigger impact than others. This one is another big one.
Moving into your dorm is going to take a lot of time and energy, so pack a cooler with drinks and food – going out for food (or anything else actually) on move-in day is super difficult and takes up a lot of time that should be spent getting you set up.
10. TAPE UP DRAWERS
If you are bringing storage drawers, make sure they are taped shut so that they don’t spill out everywhere.
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11. ORGANIZE YOUR PACKING BY SECTIONS OF YOUR DORM ROOM
To make unpacking a breeze, go at it by sections of your dorm room. It makes it easier to organize your space if what you need is in the same place. For example, set up your desk in one clean sweep rather than unpacking everything only to find a bunch of desk supplies in a totally different box later on. I didn’t actually take my own advice on my move-in day – don’t be like me:)
12. LEAVE EVERYTHING IN THE HALLWAY
If your residence hall allows this – leave it all in the hall. Get a feel for what you’re working with (and maybe collaborating with your roommate on moving furniture around). It is much easier to do so when there is nothing in there, so if at all possible make sure it is exactly how you want it before unloading.
13. BRING A TOOLKIT
Be sure to bring a basic toolkit with you when moving in. You will need to set up way more than you might think at first, so be sure to have a toolkit on hand.
14. KEEP WALL DECOR SEPARATE
The last thing to focus on during move-in day should be what is going on the walls. Keep your decor in a separate box so that you can save that for last or even after your parents leave. Focus on the big things, and getting everything organized.
15. USE PLASTIC WRAP TO SEAL YOUR JEWELRY DURING TRANSPORT
WORST THING EVER to have all your jewelry tangled and useless. To avoid this, wrap them in plastic wrap so they stay nice and organized.
16. PACK CLEANING SUPPLIES ON TOP
Along with your bedding, be sure to pack cleaning supplies where you can grab them first. You’ll want to wipe down the desk, vents, closet and floor BEFORE moving all of your stuff in. This is a good thing to get your best cleaners in the family tasked with first.
17. PACK YOUR BED, FRIDGE AND FAN FIRST -RUG LAST
While you are setting up your bed, have a parent bring in your rug and fan to get the ball rolling. The fridge will need time to defrost before you put any groceries in, and the fan will help to cool the stale space off. If you are living in humid places (like Alabama) be sure to get your dehumidifier going at this time too. This will make everyone helping you happier 🙂
The rug will be in the way and get pretty dirty while everything is happening. I recommend, unrolling the rug and placing it only after everything else is where you want it.
18. USE IN STORE PICK UP
Many stores offer a service for picking up on college move-in day, which is helpful if you are going far away for school. Check out which stores are close to campus and order your dorm items ahead of time for easy pick-up. I recommend you pick up from the store the day before you move-in. Try not to plan a Target run or anything like that during move-in – it’s much harder and more time-consuming than you’d realize.
19. BRING A HANDHELD VACUUM
Before and after you move everything in, there is bound to be a mess. Bring a small vacuum.
20. GIVE EVERYONE A TASK LIST BEFORE MOVE-IN DAY
If your family is helping you move-in – organize the work ahead of move-in. Who does what – let them know how the work will be divided. This will make it less stressful for everyone. And remember, you will most likely be sharing this entire experience with your roommate’s family too, so ANYTHING you can prepare in advance – do that. My roommate and I had collaborated on what to bring in advance and we arrived 3 hours apart so that helped quite a bit. Bt it’s a hectic, fun and exciting day and you want everyone to get to work in an organized way.
I hope these 20 Tips For college move-in were helpful! If you’re going to Rush, I’ve created a 2021 SORORITY GUIDE with tips on how to register, create your sorority packet, planning outfits, and tons more. It includes templates for your social resume and cover letter – literally everything you need to know for rush. You can get your copy of my SORORITY GUIDE HERE.
Want more tips for college – check out the other posts in THE COLLEGE SERIES.
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