College move-in day is filled with anticipation and excitement, but the day also can be challenging—both for students and parents.
“Families should expect move-in day to be high-stress, emotional and a bit chaotic,” says Scott Coenen, associate academic adviser at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and St. Paul. “My advice is to stay open to the unexpected and in the moment as much as possible,” adds Coenen, who has assisted with freshman orientation for more than 10 years.
A little preparation doesn’t hurt, either. Here are 10 tips that can make for a smoother experience:
1. Know what is provided in the dormitory and what you’ll need to bring. Check the student housing contract and the school’s website for details. Keep in mind that certain items may not be allowed, including candles, space heaters, extension cords and toaster ovens.
2. Be aware of schedules. Move-in dates may be assigned according to last name or by dormitory. Housing staff members try to streamline the process, but prepare to wait in line for check-in, dolly rental and the much-sought-after elevator.
3. Remember that room setup usually is first-come, first-served. Students should communicate with roommates before move-in day to plan the room arrangement and what items each will bring.
4. Confer with the resident adviser (RA) if possible. These upper-level students can be an invaluable resource. It’s their job to oversee an assigned area of the dorm, so take advantage of their experience and knowledge.
5. Bring basic tools. You want to avoid unanticipated trips to the hardware store in an unfamiliar town, especially since you could lose your campus parking space. Bring tools that include a measuring tape, screwdrivers, a cordless drill, duct tape, pliers, a utility knife and a level.
6. Bring miscellaneous supplies. You might need bottled water, snacks, scissors, thumbtacks, clothes hangers, pocket change (for parking meters and snack machines), a flashlight and basic cleaning materials, including window washing solution and a small whisk broom.
7. Consider the weather. The dormitory, and certainly the stairwells, may not be air-conditioned, so dress accordingly. You can get overheated traveling up and down a stairwell in late summer. Likewise, be prepared for wet or windy weather.
8. Inspect the room before you unpack. Your child could be assessed a fee later for damages already present at move-in time. Common problems include tears in screens, chips in walls and gouges in doors. Report any findings to dormitory personnel right away.
9. Leave a surprise for your child to find after you leave. Stationery and stamps, favorite treats, gift cards, a CD or a framed family photo are good suggestions.
10. Have fun. Try to stay relaxed and keep your schedule flexible. Aim for positive memories. After all, the day is a milestone and a new beginning for both students and parents.