Moving to college can be a big process. Besides the obvious changes of living on your own, choosing classes, and organizing your schedule, there’s also the actual move to think about. Start your college experience right with our top 10 tips:
1) Do Your Homework
First thing’s first. Read your orientation documents carefully. If they’re not explicitly mentioned, call your school and get the following information:
- Your dorm’s address
- Locations where you can park your vehicle(s) and/or rental truck on move-in day
- Dimensions and layout of your dorm room (schedule a visit, if need be)
- A list of items already included in the room (e.g., table, bed frame, microwave)
- A list of items not permitted in the dorm (e.g., candles and other potential fire hazards)
- Your future roommate’s contact info (email address and phone number)
You should also find out where the closest grocery stores and shopping centers are.
2) Find Resources Online
In addition to this fantastic article, there are lots of great resources for college freshman online. Bed Bath & Beyond has a Campus Checklist, a service called Dorm It Up will send you dorm room essentials straight to your school, and there are even entire moving and storage companies specifically catering to college students. Finally, don’t forget to download the moveCHECK app to chat with moving experts, find moving tips, and download coupons.
3) Connect with Your Roommate Before You Get to Campus
You’re going to be living with your roommate for at least a semester, so it’s a good idea to get to know them as soon as possible. One study found that up to 10% of college students want a roommate change within the first day of moving in, so if you aren’t going to get along, it’s better to find out while you can still do something about it. Even if you aren’t worried about getting along, it’s a smart idea to coordinate packing lists. You really won’t need two microwaves, and you definitely won’t have space. Work together to decide who should bring what, and double check with them the week of move-in day. Once you move in with your roommate, suggest putting together a list of chores, and deciding on who is in charge of what, and when. This will avoid a lot of conflict later.
This is where things get tricky. Packing is going to take more time than you think, so start early. Start planning the move 6-8 weeks ahead of time, and keep your eye out for bedding you like, desk supplies you might need, and the like. This is especially helpful if you are coordinating with a roommate. You’ll have a lot to do at the last minute, so get what you can out of the way ahead of time.
The best way to start packing is by cleaning out your closet and separating it by things you will bring to college and what you will leave home. Don’t be afraid to leave stuff at home- chances are you won’t need everything. A good reminder is, “When in doubt, leave it out.” If you’re not sure what to bring, ask around. Talk to friends at college about what types of stuff they brought up- everything from clothes to appliances to storage. You can also check with older siblings to see if they have any leftover items from their college days that they no longer need.
You won’t need your winter coats just yet, so if you can, leave them home and switch out your clothing during thanksgiving/winter break and then again during spring break. It’s also a good idea to consider what type of wardrobe you’ll need at school. Some colleges are laid back, and students mostly wear athletic wear. Other colleges are more formal and require certain types of clothes to be worn. Try to get an idea ahead of time what the atmosphere is like at your school.
Once you start packing up, organize your stuff in the way you intend to unpack, and organize by category: bedding, desk supplies, closet shelf items, cleaning supplies, hanging supplies, etc. It’s a good idea to pack smaller items into larger ones, and keep your clothes on the hanger when you pack them.
Most important, keep in mind that there will be a lot that you can buy once you get there. Once you know you’re going to college, the first thing you’ll want to do is to hit the stores and stock up on necessities before you move into your dorm or apartment, but it’s best to wait. You’ll often end up buying things you won’t need or are already provided. Hold off and make the shopping trip with roommates so that you can split costs and get a better grasp of which items are actually needed.
What to bring: clothes, bedding, cleaning supplies, desk supplies, shoes, essential toiletries/bath items, printer, microwave, mini fridge, pre-bought décor, laundry hamper
What to buy: storage, rugs, extra toiletries/bath items, school supplies, books, additional décor, command strips/clips or hardware for hanging décor, curtains, batteries, light bulbs, food, drinks, first aid kit,
Lastly, try bringing a tool kit with the following:
- Box Cutter
- Screw Drivers
- Extra trash bags — you won’t believe how much you will have to throw away after moving.
5) Time It Right
The timing of your move is just as important as the way you plan your move. If you can, choose a time early in the day, and early in the moving window. You get your choice of the space, and you’ll avoid moving rush hour, and you’ll be there in time to participate in sorority or fraternity recruitment. Moving in early in the day also means that you’ll be done before the hottest part of the day, and you’ll be able to make a shopping trip before the shelves are emptied by all your classmates (seriously, this can happen).
6) Check In
On the day of the move, be sure to check in before you start unloading your stuff. Find out where the nearest parking is around your dorm and how long can you park. Don’t forget to find out where scooter or bike parking is. Fill out any paperwork and find your room before unpacking anything–its tough hauling around a bunch of stuff if you don’t know where you are going.
If you’re allowed to rearrange furniture, this should be the first thing you do before unpacking. This will be a lot easier to do before you fill drawers or bring in extra furniture. You should also move in all your belongings, and THEN go shopping for additional storage, food, command clips, and school supplies. Wait to hang all your décor until you have unpacked everything, made your bed, and filled your storage bins. Space is limited, so if you’re allowed to, don’t forget to use all the vertical space on the walls.
8) See What Services Are Available
Once you’re settled in, start checking around for local services. Some campuses have local service providers like banks in the lobby on move in day, so be sure to see what’s available. Your school will also have good recommendations and helpful things like coupon books
9) Stay Tidy
In a smaller space, clutter is that much more noticeable. Keeping things organized means more storage space, and you’ll simply feel better. This is also important because you’ll probably have a better relationship with your roomie if you do your part to keep the dorm in a livable state. If you keep the space clean, you also won’t have to worry about room checks.
10) Plan a Trip Home
And finally, think about the next time you’ll have to make a trip home. Not only will this give you a time to relax and see friends and family, you’ll also be able to get rid of what you didn’t need, and bring back anything that you forgot.