12 Tips for College Move-In Day

Over the weekend, I experienced college move-in day for the seventh time. My third child headed to college Saturday, moving in to his new dorm. As a parent, I realize that it’s hard to send your child to college, in more ways than one, including the real move-in day. It is exhausting and can be a stressful long day if you’re not ready. Since I consider myself a seasoned pro, I decided to share my 12 tips for college move-in day. Hopefully, they will help things go smoothly and efficiently for you and your student.

12 Tips for College Move-In Day from houseontheway.com. Make move-in day easy and stress free with these easy tips for dorm move-in day.


1. Don’t wait until the last-minute to pack and buy supplies. If you wait too long, things can be sold out and unavailable. Check what the school provides in the dorm and compare that to what you need to supply yourself. Double check the size of the bed to decide what size sheets you need. Most dorms have Twin XL, which you will most likely need to order online.

2. Remove tags and packaging ahead of time on select items that you know will be used and that do not have a chance of being returned. This will eliminate the need to do so when you get to the dorm and cut out excess trash that day. For example, open the sheet set and wash the sheets, put the pillows in their pillow shams and remove any school supplies from their packaging. The more you do ahead of time, the less you will need to do that day.


3. Use wheeled suitcases and trunks to pack as much as you can. Rolling is better than carrying. In the large blue suitcase below, I packed a comforter, sheets and three pillows. The large black suitcase has some electronics and other miscellaneous things. Try to put some of the heavier items in the wheeled suitcases because again…it’s easier to roll than carry.

12 Tips for College Move-In Day

4. Large shopping bags are great for carrying clothes on hangers. When you get to the room, simply grab the hangers and hang them up on the closet rod. It eliminates having to pack and re-hang any clothing.

5. You will always find that your student will need some extra storage in their dorm and stackable drawers are the perfect solution. When you begin packing, fill the drawers with lightweight items like paper towel and school supplies. They act as storage for the room and a great way to transport items on move-in day.

Tips for Move-In Day

6. Your student’s school will give you a recommended time for arrival, usually a morning or afternoon time frame. I would suggest arriving toward the end of the allotted time, unless your child is adamant about getting first pick of beds. If that’s the case, then arrive an hour early so you can be the first in line.

Saturday, we were told we could move in from 11:00 – 1:00. We arrived on campus around 10:45 and sat in a traffic line for 45 minutes to get to the building. Then we stood in the elevator line for 30 minutes. Had we arrived closer to 1:00 pm, we would have been able to drive straight to the dorm and would not have had to wait long for an elevator. Parents were allowed to stay till 6:00 pm, so arriving later would have been no problem.

12 Tips for College Move-In Day

7. Have a total of four people for move-in day. When you arrive on campus, you will pull up to the curb and unload your car. One person needs to be able to stay with your belongings, one needs to park the car, one needs to grab a cart and the student needs to go sign in and get their key. This will lessen the time it will take to actually get in to the room.

A group of four people should be enough to get everything to the room in one trip and is the perfect number for getting the room in order, without running on top of each other in the process.

8. If you can bring your own cart, then definitely do so. You can find them at Walmart or on Amazon for a really reasonable price. If not, the school should have some to borrow, but you may have to wait for your turn to use one.

9. Bring a screwdriver and a pair of scissors. If you’re bringing a new TV or printer, you may need some tools to get everything set-up. You do not want to be running around trying to borrow a screwdriver or worse, have to leave campus to go buy one.

10. Check to see if you need a coaxial cable for the TV. We have always needed one for each of our kids’ dorm rooms. Bring it with you so you don’t have to leave campus at the last-minute.

12 Tips for College Move-In Day

11. Bring lots of 3M Command Strips and Command hooks for hanging things on the wall. Their robe hooks are great for hanging towels and can be used to hold a lightweight curtain rod if you’d like to add a decorative curtain. The strips are exactly what you need for posters, pennants and wall art. Remember, nail holes are not allowed.

12 Tips for College Move-In Day

12. If the school offers the option of renting a refrigerator and microwave, I’d suggest doing it. It’s cheaper to buy your own, if they will be using it for four years, but it’s so convenient to rent. It’s there, ready to go when they arrive in their room and the company will pick it up after they move out. They just have to clean it out before they leave. It’s easy and no hassle of moving it yourself.

Sending your child off to college can be an emotional time, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. Plan ahead and think about what your student needs to make their dorm feel like home. With a few simple tips, you can create a wonderful space for them…without killing yourself in the process.

While you’re at it, take a peek at my easy DIY wall art project for the dorm!
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  1. Elsie says

    From my time in college, here are a few tips:
    1. Cleaning supplies and rags- have these ready first and foremost. Most dorms are cleaned beforehand but that might not include inside the drawers and closets.
    2. Pack in large duffel bags- Used/new duffel bags can be very inexpensive and an entire wardrobe can be contained in 3 or 4, bedding and towels in another. Duffel bags are easy to pack in a car (important for students making solo trips) and the if the line for the elevator is overly long, can easily be carried up a few flights of stairs. When unpacked, duffel bags can be stuffed into a drawer and used for unexpected overnight trips, bringing unused clothing back home at Christmas, or for a quick get away when the school year is finally over. I’ve moved multiple times during college and after graduation and have maintained my duffel bag collection.
    3. Leave the iron/ironing board/vacuum behind- Unless there’s a strict dress code or high standards of cleanliness, the school most likely has a check-out system for these items.
    4. Look the spring before for deals- If you live in college area, check sale sites for mini-fridges, microwaves,e tc.. For many schools, the dorm life-span is relatively short, so students moving into houses/apts. no longer need a personal microwave.
    5. Be prepared to be hot and sweaty. It’s inevitable with Fall move-in. (Good luck on the first attempt at making up a lofted bed!)

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