College Move-In Day, Everything you Need to Know

College Move-In Day

The very first semester, and year for that matter, of college, is definitely the most stressful. This is all brand new to you and you’re still trying to figure it out. Since you’re already going to be overwhelmed and there’s already going to be so much new information to take in, you probably want to control what you can.

This means that you probably want to plan out as much as you can and research as much as you can so that you at least have some things figured out.

There are many factors that go into starting your first year of college, but one of the main factors is going to be the actual day that you move in. Depending on how big your university is or where it is located this can sometimes be somewhat complicated.

If you’re going to a school that has a large population, then thousands and thousands of people are more than likely going to be moving in the same day.

Now, your university, more than likely, has been planning for this day since the last move-in day. It’s usually a pretty big event on campus and more than likely will have it down to a science. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be as prepared as you can.

You want to try to take as the least number of cars as possible so that you’re are not taking up more space then you need to. There’s already going to be so many people in cars there that the fewer the cars the better.

You also want to make sure that you pack strategically.

This means that maybe you start packing a few weeks even months before your actual move-in day. You also to pack your car in the most effective manner. The last thing that you want to do is open your trunk just for your TV to fall out and smash. You already have enough going on in these are the types of situations that you can control.

Obviously, every person prepares and packs differently, but I’m at least going to give you some tips and tricks that we used when moving that might help you along the way when it comes to college move-in day.

Top Tips for Move-In Day

  • Bring some tools with you like screwdrivers, a drill, and a hammer
  • You want to get there early on move-in day unless the university has you arriving at a specific time
  • If you live far away, then get a hotel room the day before move-in
  • Dress like you are moving and not like going to a formal dinner
  • You will probably need to go to the store so be prepared
  • Let the student direct how things will work so they should be taking the lead. This is their day not yours
  • Bring a doorstop this will be a lifesaver taking things in and out
  • Parents that can bring some coffee and donuts for other parents will score big
  • Only a few people should come not the whole family

Here is a website page from Augustana College which shows you their webpage on move-in information. You should have a similar page for the college you are going to.

Here is the OSU website that talks about their move-in day and it has a video.

Another video from OSU of students actually moving in.

Preparation for Move-In Day

Preparation is key when it comes to college move-in day. I personally didn’t have any trouble in college move-in day because I am OCD and I have been packing for over a month. I already had many things packed away the exact way that I was going to set them up in my dorm room.

For instance, I already had all my hair accessories, hair products, first aid kit, and all those sorts of things already packed away in the plastic container. My food was all packed away in the way that I wanted it to be under my bed in my dorm room as well. Even some of my clothes were already sorted in the way that allowed me to just put them in the place where they belong.

I will admit you don’t have to go into that much detail if it doesn’t affect you that much. Yet if you know you get overwhelmed easily, you might want to think about these things ahead of time.

You also want to think about the sort of things that you’re going to have to buy in order to organize your room.

This is important because you don’t want to get there and realize that you don’t have enough stuff to organize your room.

You’re going to need organizers for:

  • Items on your desk
  • Your clothes
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bathroom products like shampoo, hair stuff, etc.

You will also need a checklist to make sure you have not missed anything to pack. Here are some items from the huge checklist we created for you on items needed to take to college.

  • School items – pens, pencils, erasers, laptop, etc.
  • Laundry – Detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover, etc.
  • Kitchen – Utensils, dish soap, storage containers plus more
  • Bathroom supplies – Soaps, shampoo, clippers, hairbrush, plus a ton more for the bathroom
  • Bedroom – Sheets, pillows, plus more
  • Miscellaneous – This encompasses everything else

Obviously, you have time after you get to school to go and get these things if you realize you didn’t plan well enough. You will want to take away any stress that you possibly could before you get there so try not to miss anything.

You don’t have to have every single little detail planned out, but at least knowing that you have a lot of different storage containers and places for storage is a good start.

A lot of schools on their website have zoomed-in pictures of each dorm. It will show you at the dorm rooms look like. This is an awesome opportunity for you to look at your room to envision where you are going to put things and maybe how you want to sort things.

This is another way you can limit your stress especially if you haven’t seen your dorm room in person. Then you will be better able to know what you’ll have room for and maybe how to arrange things.

Sometimes it even has dimensions which really helps when you’re trying to figure out what are you can or cannot put into your room. These are things you can go back to start researching over the summer while you’re preparing for college.

People and Cars College Move-In

Another thing that you can control is how many cars you bring and how many people come with you. I know this is a big day for you, and it might even be a little bit sad. It makes sense to want some close family members there to help you throughout the day.

Personally, when I moved into college my mother, sister, aunt, and grandmother were there. I realize soon after we left it was way too many people for this big day. I was already extremely overwhelmed and kind of in a bad mood because of all the things that I had to do.

Having this many people around me honestly only made it worse. Even though they really just meant well and obviously everyone just wanted to be a part of my big day, I kind of made everything a little bit more stressful.

In the end, I wish that I would’ve just had my mother and my sister or maybe just my mother and my grandmother. I don’t want to tell who you can or cannot bring with you on your move-in day. This day is all about you and it’s all up to you. I’m just telling you from personal experience that you might want to think twice about having multiple people with you during the day.

More than likely you’re going to be moving into a dorm room with maybe 1 to 3 other roommates. This means that all of their family members and all of their stuff is going to be getting moved in as well. Think about how overwhelming and hectic that’s going to be at each of you brings 4 to 5 extra people.

The same thing will hold true for cars. Normally you’re trying to rush and get all of your stuff out of your car so you can move for the next person to come along. If you have two or three cars with you that means, it’s going to take you three times as long to unpack.  You will end up causing a lot of commotion for the other students and parents around you.

I know you may be stuck bringing two carloads of stuff so you can only do what you can do. Personally, I did have two carloads of dorm stuff and everything worked itself out.

Many people bring a U-Haul with their stuff and that works well since you only need one U-Haul. This cuts back on the number of vehicles you have to bring plus everything in a roomy U-Haul is way better than shoving everything in a car.

Bidding Farewell

If this is your first child going to college it will be tough. You do not want to make it a long goodbye. You will see them again so just give a short and sweet hug with a few words of encouragement. Maybe slip a note into one of their bags so when they are unpacking, they find it.

This is what you have trained you, son or daughter, to do and be, independent. You just need to be proud and stay in touch with them by phone especially in the first few months. Many college students get homesick quickly so reaching out often can help them get through it.


Overall this day is going to be such a blur because it’s so hectic and overwhelming that you’re probably barely going to remember any of it anyways. If you have some people that are close to you and can help you this will be key. Even if it seems like a stressful day, in the end, everything will be OK and you’re at college now.

Just do what you can do over the summer to prepare and pack well enough that moving into college isn’t as big of a deal as you thought it would be. You can’t control a lot of things, but these are some things that you can control.

This is an exciting day and exciting time in your life so don’t let the nerves in the stress of this big event take away from that. You’re only going to be a freshman once in your life so take it in stride.

Try not to get too stressed out, because in the end if you forget something you can always buy something at the stores around the university. If you forget something that is from your house and you can’t buy, you could always get it the next time you go home.

Your parents can even mail you something that you forgot. Once again, in the end, everything will just work itself out.

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