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In about two months, students and parents will begin making their way to campus to take part in college move-in day. After years of hard work and dedication in high school, college move-in day is a big step for many students as they transition into adulthood. However, before some of you begin your classes, you’ll be taking on your first challenge in college: moving in.

For some of you who have experienced college move-in day (perhaps from a sibling or friend), the craziness and heavy lifting will be nothing new. For others, like me, who have never had to deal with college move-in day, moving in is definitely a learning experience. Whether you or family members have experienced moving in or not, preparing yourself for college living is important as this can potentially affect your first-year college experience. Here are some helpful hints that can make your college move-in day all the more successful.


Even before you think about packing up, make sure you know the details of your college move-in. Thus, for everyone: plan ahead. College move-in may seem like months away, but after taking the time to prepare and plan, you’ll soon find yourself days (or even hours) away from moving in. The date, how long you’ll have to move-in (for those bringing a vehicle or storage truck), where you can get your room key – some of many important things to consider and remember. For you out-of-state college students: don’t forget to figure out living and transportation arrangements once you arrive to your location. Since it’s already tough having to travel a long distance, nothing can be worse than realizing that you don’t know how to get to campus!

Packing Up

As you begin packing up, remember this: most of the things that you’re packing up are the things that are going to be coming back with you. Unless your school specifically has storage available for students or you know where you are going to store your things, packing efficiently is a must. That bookshelf of all the books you’ve had since elementary school? Yeah, probably not a good idea to bring. This isn’t as much as a problem for students attending a school closer to where they live, but even so bringing only the necessities can save you (and the people with you) a lot of time and energy.

So what to pack? You can find various “what to pack” lists online, but here are some of the basic essentials that are necessary for almost any college student (both guys and gals):

Bedding. This includes pillows, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, sheets, and bed risers (if you want to store stuff under your bed). In most cases the school will provide the mattress, so it’s up to you to make your bed a comfortable place to sleep. Also note that most of the beds are “twin XL,” but in most cases using a twin-sized comforter set usually works just fine (at least it did for me).

Toiletries. This includes body wash, shampoo and conditioner, shaving razors and shaving cream, hair dryer, toothbrush and toothpaste, towels, a shower caddy, and shower shoes (typically flip-flops or something similar). This is particularly important for those using public (by public I mean public to those living in the dorm) dorm facilities.

Laundry. Unless someone else is doing your laundry, you’ll definitely want to bring detergent, a laundry hamper, and a laundry basket (or bag). If you want to save some time (and money) from separating your colors, you can try using laundry color catchers (which I personally use and find very helpful). Depending on how your college laundry service works, you might also need to bring quarters.

Food. Pretty much every college student’s life. This includes a microwave, mini-fridge, Tupperware, and miscellaneous cooking items that you may use during the year. Unless your school has a dorm kitchen nearby, I would recommend that you hold back for your first year and figure out how often you’re actually going to be cooking. Microwaves, mini-fridges, and Tupperware are great, but think about how often you’re actually going to be using the kitchen (if you even have one).

Technology. This can include laptops, TVs, stereo systems, and pretty much everything else you can think of. If you’re going to have a roommate (or more), earphones are definitely a must. My only advice here is to have a surge protector, which can help prevent electrical shortages and protect your electronics. Just be sure that you know where everything will go at the end of the year.

Clothes. This includes hangers (if not provided, or even if provided they’re probably questionable) and a dresser. In most cases schools will provide either a dresser or closet (or in my case, both) for you to store your clothes in. If you have mysophobia (that is, the fear of germs), I would recommend bringing some sort of cloth to cover the bottom of each drawer because sometimes they are a little dusty. If you’re going to a different environment, don’t forget to pack appropriately! Wearing a tank top and shorts in the snow is definitely not fun.

Miscellaneous items. This includes (but is not limited to) a trash can, first-aid kit, batteries, a backpack, duct tape, an umbrella, paper towels, medicine, a dry erase board (with dry erase markers), ear plugs, a mirror and storage bins. This category is pretty much up to you and your personal preferences.

School supplies. This includes loose-leaf paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, index cards, and pretty much everything you’re used to having in high school. You’re still in school, remember?

Overwhelmed by this list? After you compile all of these things together, the best way to plan what you’re going to pack is to base it off of cost and ease of transportation. For example, if you want a mirror in your room it’s probably better to buy it once you get on campus as opposed to bringing it with you (and going with the risk of the mirror breaking). If you’re going to be living with other people, make sure you keep in touch with them so that there aren’t multiple things that aren’t really necessary (e.g. having 3 TVs). Especially for those traveling a greater distance, determining what is and isn’t worth bringing is important in packing up.

Arriving on Campus

After you’ve brought and bought everything you needed, you’re finally here! As you begin the big move-in and bring your things into your dorm, don’t forget about where your room is. If you’re on the top floor of your dorm, packing heavy boxes isn’t the best idea (unless, of course, you can call for some help from others). Since other people are also moving in, it’s generally a good idea to bring everything little by little so that you don’t clog up the hallways or stairway with all your things. I think the most important thing to remember here is to have your room key so that you can actually put your stuff somewhere!

Let It Go

Moving in can be an overwhelming experience and can stress a lot of students and parents out before college even begins. However, with proper planning and diligent packing, college move-in day does not have to be as tiring as people make it out to be. Just remember, make a list of all the things you’re going to bring and need, actually start packing (not leaving it until the very last minute), and remember what you need to do once you get on campus. Good luck, and have a great move-in!

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the author

Raised in the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Eric Po is a freshman at Harvard University studying Economics. He loves listening to country music (particularly Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley), but you can’t blame him; he’s a Texan after all! He also enjoys outdoor activities, including soccer, running, and Ultimate. While he’s not sweating outside in the heat, Eric enjoys volunteering for nonprofit organizations that work with youth. Although he hopes to be a financial analyst in the future, he eventually wants to work with students as a counselor.

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  1. Joan on June 22, 2015

    My parents left me to arrange my moving in day all alone in freshman year and I must say it’s a lesson worth learning – the shopping, the responsibility… you change your mindset and realize that you are a grown up now!

  2. Laura Nobles on September 24, 2015

    My first year moving in day was quite interesting. I decided to plan and organize everything by myself, so my parents didn’t interfere at all and only helped me with transportation. Although I made very detailed checklists, numbered each box, color coordinated them, moving in day was a small disaster for me. I had no idea where simple items like my makeup bag or toiletries are located. Well I learned a very useful lesson that year and since then packing and organizing for moving in or out college is piece of cake. Greets!

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