20 College Move In Day Tips Every Freshman Needs To Know

Want to make your dorm room move in day as seamless as possible? Here are the college move in day tips that every freshman should know.

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Preparing to move in to your college dorm can be stressful.

From packing efficiently to coordinating your move in schedule, there’s a lot to think about!

Luckily, with a little bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can make the whole move in process a breeze.

As someone who moved into the dorms twice, I’ve compiled 20 of the absolute best college move in day tips to help you out.

With these tips and tricks, you can streamline the move-in process and start this new chapter of your life off without too many headaches.

College Move In Day Tips & Tricks

1. Check Move-In Details

Students and families busy with move-in activities outside a college dormitory. People are pushing red utility carts filled with personal belongings toward the building, with parked cars lining the curb.

Before the big day, be sure to double-check all of the move-in details provided by your college.

Know your assigned move-in date and time, and understand any specific instructions or protocols. Dorms often stagger move-ins to manage the flow of students, so sticking to your timeslot is crucial.

It’s also smart to review any maps or guidelines provided by the school about where to park, check in, and unload.

This information can save you a lot of time and stress on the actual move-in day.

2. Pack Strategically

When it comes to packing up your belongings, you’ll want to have a strategy.

Label your boxes and bags clearly, use vacuum bags for bulky items, and keep your boxes separated by category.

If you just throw everything into boxes or bags, you’re going to have a really hard time unpacking and organizing everything on move in day.

You should also be strategic when packing up your car for moving into college. Remember that the first things you load into the car are going to be the last things you can unload.

Put essential move-in day items in the car last so you can unload them right away.

3. Have An ‘Open First’ Box

While we’re talking about packing strategies, one of the most crucial tips is to have an ‘Open First’ box.

Pack this box with items you’ll need immediately like garbage bags, a toolkit, water bottles, a door stopper, cleaning supplies, phone chargers, toilet paper, etc.

It’s basically your survival kit for move-in day.

Label it clearly and place it in an easily accessible part of your car so you can get it into your dorm room first.

This simple strategy can make your first day in the dorms much more relaxed and organized.

4. Coordinate With Your Roommate

Dorm rooms are WAY too small to fit two families moving in at the same time. It’s honestly hard enough moving in with just one family there.

Talk to your roommate ahead of time and coordinate move-in times so you’re not on top of each other the whole day.

To go along with that, make sure you respect your roommate and don’t take over the whole room if you get there first.

You want to start off on the right foot with the person you’re going to be living with all year. Be courteous and keep your decorations and dorm items to your half of the room.

5. Pick A Morning Time Slot If Possible

Choosing a morning time slot for your move-in can be a strategic move. An early start also gives you the whole day to unpack, organize, and settle into your new space.

Then you can just relax for the afternoon and focus on meeting people in your dorm. Or you can do a last-minute Target run if you realize you forgot something!

I highly recommend choosing one of the earlier move-in day time slots if you can. This also leaves time for a last-minute Target run if you realize you forgot something!

Plus, getting there ahead of the crowd means better parking spots and less waiting for elevators.

6. Order For Pickup At Stores Near Campus

A collapsible red Royal utility cart loaded with a large cardboard box and a rolled-up mattress, likely being used for transporting items on college move-in day.

One genius moving hack is to order stuff for pickup at a store near your campus.

If you’re worried about having enough space for everything in your car, you can order bigger items ahead of time and pick them up on move-in day.

Plenty of big chain retailers have pickup options – Target, Walmart, Costco, etc.

You can also have things shipped to a nearby UPS or FedEx location for any stores that don’t offer pickup.

7. Eat Before You Start

Starting your move-in day on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster. You don’t want to get hangry in the middle of an already stressful day.

Make sure to have a hearty meal before you begin the moving process.

This will give you the energy you need for the unloading the car, assembling furniture, and organizing your dorm room.

Plus, it’s one less thing to worry about on a day that’s already packed with activities.

8. Keep Your Clothes On Hangers

Taking clothes on and off hangers can be a huge time waster, especially on a day when you have so much to do.

When you’re packing your clothes up at home, just leave them on the hangers and wrap them in a garbage bag. Tie the handles around the tops of the hangers to keep everything secure.

Then when you get to your dorm room you can just hang everything up and take the bags off! The bags can even be reused in your dorm room trash can.

This moving hack not only saves time but also helps in keeping your clothes wrinkle-free during the move.

9. Arrive Early

A young woman with a headband and a casual outfit stands smiling among various items likely for college move-in, including suitcases, rolled-up bedding, and storage bins.
Image Source

Make things easier on yourself and arrive early for your move-in day slot.

Giving yourself plenty of extra time will reduce the stress of finding a parking spot, getting checked in, and finding a cart for unloading.

Plus, it gives you a head start on meeting your dorm neighbors and getting acclimated to your new surroundings.

10. Have Your Important Paperwork Handy

Having all your important paperwork handy on move-in day is crucial.

Make sure to bring any necessary documents like your student ID, housing assignment, and any move-in forms your college requires. Keep these documents in an easily accessible folder or binder.

Being prepared will ensure a smoother check-in process, which helps prevent any annoying move-in day delays.

11. Dress Comfortably

A student seen from behind wearing a green jacket and backpack, pushing a wheeled bin on dorm room move in day.
Image Source: Pinterest

Dressing comfortably on dorm room move-in day can make a huge difference.

You’ll be doing a lot of bending, lifting, and walking. Opt for practical clothing and shoes that won’t get in the way while you’re carrying boxes, cleaning, and assembling furniture.

With all of that being said, you should check to see if your college takes ID pictures during dorm check-in.

If they do, you could wear something cuter for photos and then pack a more practical outfit to change into in your ‘Open First’ box.

12. Document Your Room Condition

When you first enter your dorm room, take a few minutes to document its condition and any damage that may be there.

This is a super important tip that will help save you from potential fees at the end of the year. If you notice significant damages, report them immediately to your dorm supervisor.

Snap some photos of the walls, floors, furniture, etc. Make sure to take close-up images of any existing damage.

Date these photos and save them to a secure folder on your phone, or send them to a family member for safekeeping.

13. Clean Before You Unpack

Before you start unpacking, make sure you give your dorm room a quick clean.

Your dorm room should have been deep cleaned before move-in day, but the maintenance staff sometimes misses things.

Here’s a good dorm move-in cleaning checklist to use:

  • Use disinfectant wipes on high-touch surfaces like door handles, light switches, and window blind pulls
  • Clean off desks, shelves, and bed frames with all purpose cleaner or wipes
  • Sweep or vacuum before laying down any rugs or furniture items
  • Use window cleaner to get rid of smudges on windows and mirrors
  • Put bags in all trash cans and recycling bins
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I know it seems like a hassle, but it’s so much easier to spot dirt and dust before your room is filled with your things.

And it’ll feel so good to start your semester off in a fresh and hygienic environment!

14. Assemble Your Furniture First

A corner of a dorm room with a futon, throw blanket, and wooden crate.

When you start unpacking, focus on assembling your furniture first. This could include items like a bed frame, futon, storage shelves, etc.

Putting together furniture will be way easier if your room isn’t already cluttered with stuff.

It’s also more efficient to organize and figure out where all of your stuff will go once you have these larger items set up.

For example, you probably don’t want to unpack all of your bedding before you even have a bed frame to use it on!

15. Organize Before Decorating

I know it can be tempting to set up all of your fun decor pieces first. But trust me, you’ll want to have all of your essential items in their places first.

Organizing first will allow you to clearly see what you have space for and avoid making things too cluttered.

Once everything is in its place, add personal touches like posters, string lights, small plants, etc. This is when your dorm room will really start to feel like home.

But remember, it’s easier to add than to take away, so start with a few key pieces and build up from there. This mindset will prevent your small space from feeling too cluttered.

16. Maximize Storage Space

A closet in a dorm room with hanging organizers filled with neatly folded clothes.
Image Source: Pinterest

When you’re planning out and setting up your dorm room, make sure you’re being strategic with your storage space.

When you’re doing your dorm shopping, look for multi-functional items like storage ottomans, mirrors with built-in storage, and furniture with built-in charging cords.

You should also have a plan for utilizing the space under your dorm bed. Look for under-bed storage bins or drawers that can fit extra clothing, bedding, snacks, and school supplies.

[RELATED: 23 Under Bed Dorm Storage Ideas You Need In Your Dorm Room]

Getting creative and maximizing storage space will help keep your room organized and clutter-free all semester.

17. Keep An Eye On Valuables

Make sure to always have someone watching your valuables on move-in day.

With the bustle of moving and doors often being propped open, it’s easy for items to go missing.

When you’re going back and forth from your car, make sure to either lock your dorm room or keep valuable items in a locking safe. This includes items like laptops, tablets, phones, and wallets.

[RELATED: 10 Best Dorm Room Safes To Protect Your Valuables In College]

It’s better to be cautious than to deal with the headache of lost or stolen items, especially on such a busy day.

18. Take Plenty Of Breaks

Moving into college can be physically and emotionally exhausting, so don’t forget to take plenty of breaks throughout the day.

You’ll be more efficient in setting up your dorm when you’re well-rested and focused. Schedule some short breaks in your move-in day plan to relax, refuel, and recharge.

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

19. Keep Your Door Propped Open

As you’re getting your dorm room set up, I highly recommend propping your door open.

Keeping your door open will give you a chance to meet so many more people. Try to smile and say hi to everyone who walks by!

Your college social life will be off to a great start if you follow this tip. Meeting your neighbors early on can lead to lasting friendships, study groups, and a sense of belonging within your new community.

Another practical reason to keep the door open is to keep the air flowing. College move in day is usually in the summertime, and dorms can get hot and stuffy fast.

Just use a cheap door stopper to keep your dorm door open during move-in day.

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20. Schedule Time To Explore Campus

Once you have your dorm room set up, you should take a little bit of time to explore campus.

Take a leisurely walk or drive around campus, stopping by key landmarks like the library, dining halls, and academic buildings.

If you already have your schedule, try to find each building you’ll have classes in. This will make the first day of classes so much easier.

Bring your family or friends along with you if they’re helping you move in. It’s a great way to make some memories together before you part ways.

This will obviously be easier if you have a morning move-in slot. If you weren’t able to get an early time slot, you could take a little campus tour together before you start the move-in process.

College Move In Day Essentials

There you have it – the college move in day tips and tricks that every freshman should know. With these tips, you’ll be able to seamlessly transition to dorm living.

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