College move-in day is often one of the hottest days of the year, and emotions are running high. But don’t worry! Understanding how to avoid common pitfalls can help make it go smoothly. We’ve survived numerous move-in days with our kids over the past seven years and found the perfect recipe to make it as stress-free and organized as possible. Here are our best move-in day tips for what NOT to do so you can focus on the transitions ahead rather than the chaos of the day itself.
1. Not having a system or plan — Dorm rooms are small, and space is tight. When you bring everything into the room to get settled in, it’s so much easier if you’ve packed in an orderly way. You don’t want to be looking through seven different containers when you need something! So when it comes to things like bedding, make sure to pack it all in one box, rather than the sheets in one, the mattress pad in another, and the comforter in a different one. We’ve found that labeling the outside of your boxes also helps with efficiency.
2. Packing clothes in suitcases — Why take clothes off hangers, fold them, and pack them in a suitcase, then pack the hangers in a box, just to open the suitcase when you arrive and re-hang all their clothing? Keep hanging clothes on their hangers to make moving in easier. You can cover hanging clothes with large plastic trash bags and move them in ready to hang. Suitcases still work—but utilize them for transporting folded clothing.
3. Bringing new items in product packaging — If you’ve purchased new items for the dorm, this is one of our favorite hacks! Take everything you know you’ll use out of the packaging and place it in the bins or boxes you’re using to transport everything. This helps by decreasing the time it takes to unpack all of the items from their packaging and saves space in the car. You’ll also have so much less trash on move-in day.
4. Not securing bins and drawers — Many college students use plastic storage drawer units for their small spaces. After all, they’re inexpensive and lightweight. These drawers are great for moving efficiently, too—if you do it the right way. After moving in all six kids, multiple times, we’ve seen lots of these units tumble over, and all the contents fall out in the parking lot or the hallway. So you’ll want to use something to keep the drawers closed, like packing tape or bungee cords, until you’re safely in the dorm.
5. Forgetting to bring basic tools — During move-in day, there may be shelves to put together, beds to adjust, curtains to hang, or other tasks that require some tools. Be sure to bring a few basics, like a screwdriver, hammer, level, and a good pair of scissors. You should also bring some products to safely hang things in the dorm, like stick-on hooks or tacky putty. And here’s another helpful tip: if you’re using these no-nail hanging products, they’ll stick better if you clean the wall first with some rubbing alcohol.
6. Wearing cute clothes and uncomfortable shoes — Today is not the day to dress to the nines. You’re going to be hot, and you’re going to get messy, so wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
7. Forgetting the cleaning supplies — The first thing you’ll want to do before unpacking is wipe everything down in your student’s room. No one wants to start loading up a dresser that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned. Trust us on this one! You’ll be shocked by how much dirt will come off on your wipes or sponge. So, pack the cleaning supplies and ensure they’re easily accessible.
8. Neglecting to bring snacks and water — Moving into a dorm and getting your student settled in and comfortable can take some time, and you don’t want people getting hangry. Bring along a stash of protein bars and some of your family’s favorite snacks. Since it’s often hot out at that time of year, everyone will want to stay hydrated too. Many dorms are equipped with water bottle filling stations, so don’t forget your favorite reusable water bottle!
9. Packing too much — Remember, dorm rooms are small, and students don’t need to bring everything from home! All of our kids packed way too many clothes their freshman year that they never ended up wearing. Be sure to also coordinate with roommates, so you don’t end up bringing duplicates of things that can be shared. You can always run out to a store to pick up something if needed, and Amazon delivers to dorms too!
Moving into a dorm can be stressful, but if you follow these nine tips, your college move-in day experience can be a positive one. And here’s one more bonus tip: it’s normal to feel anxious about saying goodbye once everything’s moved in, but we’ve learned it’s good not to stick around too long after move-in. Once everything’s unpacked and set up, capture the memories with a few photos, then say a quick goodbye. It’s time to focus on the exciting new transitions ahead.