Tips for a Stress-Free College Move-In Day

Move-in day marks the exciting beginning of your college adventure. While moving away from home and into a new space involves logistics and preparation, a little pre-planning can go a long way. Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth transition.

Before Move-In Day

  • Consider your location. How are you going to get yourself and all your stuff to college? If you’re driving, will everything fit in your car? If you’re flying, how much is it for a checked bag? Consider shipping bulkier items or taking advantage of free shipping options from online and box store retailers. 
  • Check prices. Many colleges offer rentals for large items like microwaves and mini-fridges. Compare prices before purchasing anything. You might even find great deals from older students selling dorm essentials in social media groups.
  • Know what’s allowed. Check the list of forbidden items before you go dorm shopping. Candles, extension cords, and pets (except approved registered support animals) are usually prohibited. If you aren’t sure what you should bring vs. what you should leave at home, check with your college to find out what’s permitted in dorm rooms.
  • Connect with future roommates. Once you get the contact information of your future roommate(s), connect with them to talk about what each of you should bring. This way, you avoid showing up with duplicates of large items like mini-fridges, televisions, rugs, or microwaves. Talking with or meeting up with your future roommate before school starts will help you get to know them better, and you can avoid the awkwardness of meeting on move-in day!

Move-In Day

  • Arrive early. Show up as early as possible, but respect your college’s move-in window. Before you start unpacking, pick up your key or FOB. This way, you won’t end up unloading everything only to be locked out of your room.
  • Come prepared. Bring the proper unpacking tools, including scissors, duct tape, tools for setting up furniture or hanging items, and wipes to clean surfaces. Move-in day usually falls in late August, a sweltering time in all parts of the country. Be sure to bring lots of water to rehydrate!
  • Wear the proper clothes. We know you want to make a good impression on everyone and show up in your favorite fit, but remember moving in can be hard work. You will be happy you wore something comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Keep the moving team small. Leave your extended fam at home. Instead, invite them to family weekend! The dorm will be cramped, sweaty, and strewn with boxes and suitcases. Limiting your guests is also respectful to your roommates moving their stuff in at the same time. College campuses typically have teams of people to support your move, so there should be extra hands around if you need help!
  • Rearrange the furniture. Before you do anything, move the furniture and experiment with the space. There are plenty of ways to make your dorm more comfortable. If you have a roommate, talk about these decisions together.
  • Pack your clothes on the hangers. Rather than packing your clothes and hangers separately, skip a step and keep your clothes on the hanger. Avoid wrinkles and dirt by covering them in plastic (the same way a dry cleaner would). When you show up, hang your clothes in the closet and tear away the plastic bags!
  • Set ground rules with your roommate. Once you’re all settled in, chat with your roommate about expectations regarding sleep schedules, guests, cleaning, and borrowing each other’s things. Addressing these topics upfront can prevent potential conflicts down the road.


Moving into your dorm does take some work, but it can be fun, too! Follow these tips for a smooth transition, and enjoy the start of your new chapter in life!