Learn what to expect on college move-in day from two moms who’ve been there! We share our 20 tips & tricks to make move-in day go smoothly!
College tours. Filling out applications. Waiting for acceptance letters. Deciding where to go. High school graduation. Freshman orientation. They’re all the steps leading to a really big day for your student and your family: college move-in day. We’ve both been there, and have compiled some tips to help you have the best move-in day possible!
1. Get Rid of Packaging
Before you begin packing, remove everything from its packaging. You’ll be shocked at how much time this may take! Plus, everything will take up much less space when you pack it. This also means much less trash to worry about on move-in day. And you can give those new linens a wash too!
2. Cleaning Products
Dorm rooms can be dirty…yup even when you move in…so bring along some cleaning supplies to wipe down surfaces before unpacking. Clorox wipes, a roll of paper towels, and your favorite spray cleaner will all come in handy. Maybe even a few Swiffer wet pads for the floor? You may as well start the year with a clean room! And don’t forget to bring some trash bags.
3. Tool Kit
Buying a small tool kit that your student can keep in their dorm room is a great idea. Be sure to include zip ties and scissors. You’ll definitely need these tools on move-in day.
Put all the cleaning products and tools in a bucket or a bin and pack it in the car so it can be one of the first things you move in.
4. Hanging Clothes
One tip that saves a lot of time with packing & unpacking is to leave clothes on hangers when moving. Just put them in a trash bag and tie around the base of the hanger to keep the clothes clean. Make moving those clothes even easier by hanging those bags on a pole so you can carry them all in at once. Easy!
5. Storage Bins
Plastic storage bins are an easy way to pack necessities for move-in day. Then they can serve double duty as storage all year in the dorm! Label the bins to make unpacking easier.
6. Pack Like Items Together
Make unpacking more efficient by putting similar items together. One tub for bedding and linens. Another tub for desk items. A tub for toiletries. You get the idea!
7. Protect Make-up & Jewelry
Placing a cotton round, cotton ball, or thin layer of foam in make-up palettes will help prevent it from breaking! And Press and Seal wrap will keep your necklaces from getting tangled into a knot. Simply place your necklaces on a piece of cardboard and secure with the Press and Seal wrap.
8. Arrive Early/Coordinate with Your Roommate
Most colleges and universities will assign a block of time to move in. Arrive early! There are often long lines at the elevators. Or, consider arriving at lunch-time when there’s often a lull on the action. Coordinate with your roommate so that only one family is moving in/unpacking at a time.
9. Wear Practical Clothes
This isn’t the time to look super cute, Mom! Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Remember tip #2? Dorms aren’t the cleanest places. Today is the day to be practical…wear comfortable clothes & shoes.
10. Bring a Fan
You’ll be moving into the dorm in August or early September. Most likely it will be hot so bring a fan with you. Your student will likely need one for their room anyway! Be sure to put it somewhere in your vehicle so you can bring it in on the first trip. Then go ahead and plug it in and stay cool! Or at least cooler… 😉
11. Dolly or Cart
If you don’t own a dolly or a cart you may want to consider borrowing or even renting one for move-in day. Most colleges will have some carts available for you to use while moving your student in. But often there’s a wait to use one so it’s super helpful if you bring your own. And bring along some bungee cords to be sure everything stays securely on that dolly.
12. Snacks & Drinks
Bring a cooler with some cold drinks and snacks for move-in day. No one works well if they’re thirsty or hangry! It may take some time to move-in and get unpacked.
Plan to make a trip to a local store for anything you may have forgotten. If you’re traveling by plane to move-in, take advantage of in-store pick-up options available at many home stores. (Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Target, etc…). Some colleges even offer services where you can order ahead and pick up your gear on campus!
14. Label Everything!
As you pack each bin, box, tub, etc., make sure you add a label with your student’s name, dorm name, and room/suite number. Some universities have you unload your vehicle in one place and items get delivered to the dorm.
15. Tape Lids and Drawers Closed
Be sure to tape the lids onto your storage bins before leaving home. Then tape closed your organizing drawer towers! Nothing is worse than pulling a plastic storage tower with drawers filled with school supplies out of the car the wrong way and everything dumping out all over the parking lot!
16. Bring a Door Stop (or 2!)
A simple doorstop will come in handy to keep those dorm room doors open while moving all those bins and stuff into the room. If you’re in a suite-style room, you may want to doorstops: one for the suite and one for your room. Just be sure to check with your suitemates before leaving the suite door open.
17. Command Strips & Hooks
Bring a variety of command hook styles. The small poster size strips are great for hanging posters and pictures, larger command strips will hold bulletin boards, and the hooks are helpful for hats, coats, and towels. Make sure you bring a bottle of rubbing alcohol & some cotton balls to prep the wall surface for command hooks! It makes all the difference in them staying adhered.
18. What to Unpack First
Making your bed first helps you move the mattress toppers, comforters, and pillows out of the way. Then you have a place to lay everything else while unpacking. You’ll also want your rug to be one of the first items you bring in.
19. What to Unpack Last
Leaving wall decor for last gives your student the opportunity to complete that task after you leave to make their new space feel like their new home.
20. Saying Goodbye
Move-in day is an emotional day for everyone. Parents may be feeling sad and students are both anxious and excited. We’ve heard from many parents the number 1 tip is to say your goodbyes at home. Then when you leave your teen at school you can just say a quick goodbye.
We both wrote our sons a letter and tucked it under their pillow to find and read later. Another meaningful idea that we both gave our sons was a Wanderer bracelet with the coordinates of their homes.
If you’re a mom reading this blog post we get it…this is hard…we know…we’ve both been through it. But we promise it will be okay. This is what we’ve prepared our children for, so give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. And here’s a virtual hug from us!😘
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- Preparing for College Orientation: A Parents Guide
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- How to Plan a College Care Package Assembly Party
- The Long Goodbye: How to Survive Their Senior Year