Every year, millions of students move into a dorm room for the first time. It’s an exciting experience, albeit a stressful one, and a journey that introduces each student to the environment that will support them for the majority of their college career.
Ensuring a smooth, painless move can help set a better tone for your first year on campus, and set you up with the resources you need to be academically successful. These tips can help you achieve those ends:
Before the Move
Work with your parents (if you can) or other trusted family members and friends before the move. Together, you can gather the right information and avoid the common delays and challenges you might otherwise face.
1. Check the paperwork and logistics. In the weeks and days leading up to your move-in day, be sure to double check all the paperwork and your understanding of logistics. For example, are you sure you have an accurate understanding of the move-in days and times? Do you know where your building is, and how close it is to the other major buildings on campus? Where will you be able to park, and are there elevators and other accommodations that will make the move easier? It’s also a good idea to determine which furniture, if any, is already included in the dorm.
2. Know how much space you have to work with. As part of your initial research, figure out how much space you’ll have in the dorm (including how much space is currently occupied by furniture). This will help you determine whether you can bring additional pieces of furniture into the dorm, and how much stuff you can bring with you.
3. Pack and label the essentials. Once you know how big your dorm is and what storage options are available, you can determine your needs and pack accordingly. When you do pack, make sure you have a bag or container full of essentials, like hygiene products and electronics chargers, easily accessible and properly labeled.
The Day of the Move
The day of the move, you’ll want to adhere to these important tips:
4. Prepare for the weather. Watch the weather forecast and prepare yourself accordingly. Moving in extreme heat could put your health and safety in jeopardy, so pack extra water and items to help you stay cool. If it looks like rainy weather, you’ll need to travel and move with extra precautions.
5. Prepare for traffic. Some universities stagger their move-in dates to avoid too much congestion, but you’re still likely to share the campus with hundreds, or even thousands of other people trying to move in at the same time. Build this into your scheduling and expectations, so you can work around it.
6. Bring tools. Pack a toolbox full of basic tools like a hammer, screwdrivers, and a drill. You may need these to assemble or disassemble furniture, or to make necessary adjustments to the dorm room. And even if you don’t need them, someone else might.
7. Take photos. Most colleges make you responsible for anything that might happen to your dorm during your stay. Accordingly, before you fully move in, it’s important to take pictures of the dorm in its current condition. That way, you won’t be blamed for causing damage that existed before you even set foot in the room. Be sure to take photos of everything, and from multiple angles.
In the day or two following your move, you can improve your position even further:
8. Unpack and feel at home. It’s tempting to procrastinate and leave most of your possessions in boxes (or live out of a suitcase), but it’s better to spend some time unpacking. Arrange things as you see fit, and decorate with personal items. The sooner you make this space feel like home, the better.
9. Make the most of your space. You probably won’t have much space to work with, so make the most of it. Try to keep your possessions tidy and organized to prevent them from spilling into the floor, and designate spaces for all your needs.
10. Consider shipping additional items. In your first few days, you’ll probably notice some necessary items you forgot to pack. In this case, consider having the items shipped to you from back home.
Moving into your first dorm room is likely going to be your first taste of independence, so hopefully these tips can leave you feeling positive about the experience. As you proceed with your initial classes and your first year in college, there are more steps you can take to improve your dorm and academic performance; be sure to experiment and find what works for you.