The end of summer means a lot of things for college students: Starting classes, meeting new people and incorporating studying and assignments into their weekly routine. But for anyone whose spending the next year in a dorm room, there’s one other thing they have to get through before they can really settle into college life—move-in day.
In theory, moving into a college dorm should be stress-free compared to the amount of coursework you’ll be accumulating in just the first month. After all, all you’re really doing is unloading all the belongings you’ve brought from home and finding a space to put them on your half of a 228-square-foot room. But with thousands of students becoming dorm tenants simultaneously—and most of them bringing every item on their dorm essentials checklist, plus a few extras—move-in day can feel a bit overwhelming. And the pressure to fix up your room to look like something out of a Bed, Bath and Beyond catalog once you’re all moved in doesn’t really help, either.
For what it’s worth, your college move-in day doesn’t have to cost you any sweat and tears. Here are seven tips that will make your move-in quick and easy so you can focus on getting acquainted with your school and other students.
1. Move in early.
With so many students intending to move into on-campus housing, you can expect residence halls to be a zoo full of people hauling their stuff from the campus parking lots to their dorm rooms. And given the inevitable chaos, you might be better off sacrificing a few hours of sleep so you can arrive at your dorm building right when move-in starts.
But more importantly, moving in early usually means a lower chance of you and your roommate both crowding your separate belongings into a tiny room at once. And honestly, you’ll probably feel cramped enough in your new space with just your own things to unpack.
2. Bring only a small percent of your wardrobe.
Considering you’re so used to having all your clothes together at home, you probably think you’ll need to have all of them with you at college. However, you have to keep in mind that dorms don’t usually have as much closet or drawer space as a bedroom, and you might end up having to stuff your drawers if you bring every clothing item you own.
Rather, try to bring only a small chunk of your wardrobe—a few casual shirts and bottoms, some dressier wear, sweaters for when the weather gets colder, the works. You might not like the downgrade, but you’ll have less clothes to put away on move-in. And you’ll definitely be thankful later when you run out of clean threads and don’t have to carry a huge load of laundry downstairs.
3. Keep dorm décor to a minimum (for now).
Dorm room décor tends to be one of the main things on students’ minds when they first go shopping for their college living space. (Thank you, Instagram and Pinterest.) And once they enter their room on move-in day, they usually have every intention of decking it out with photos, lights and anything that’s designed to hang on a wall.
However, not all dorms have enough wall space to accommodate elaborate decorating ideas. It’s better that students stick to a low décor supply until the actually see the space they’re working with. Plus, their move-in can go by a lot more seamlessly if they leave ornamenting their room till a later date.
4. Label what you bring your belongings in.
Undoubtedly, your school has suggested that you bring a lot of items for your dorm—bedding, clothes, bathroom essentials, the list goes on and on. And with all the bags and boxes of stuff you’re bringing, you can easily get confused about where you’ve packed everything. That is, unless all the bags and boxes have label stickers.
When you have labelled item holders, you don’t have to worry about rifling through all your belongings to find specific things. And better yet, the labels make everything more organized so your stuff can be efficiently put away during move-in.
5. Bring food and water.
All the unpacking you’ll be doing on move-in will definitely require a lot of energy, from lifting and maneuvering heavy boxes to getting the sheets over your mattress. So it should go without saying that you’ll need plenty of food and water to keep your body vitalized until you’re all settled into your dorm—not to mention that food makes everything better.
6. Use throwaway bags and boxes.
After all of your belongings have acquired a space in your room, you’ll most likely still have a pile of the bags and boxes that carried them. But unlike when you first bought the bags and boxes, they are now tattered or bent out of shape, and if your family takes them back home, they’ll probably just take up unnecessary space in your home’s attic or garage.
For a situation like college move-in day, you’re better off purchasing cheap bags and boxes that are meant for a one-time use. That way, you can throw them away as soon as you’ve unloaded all their contents, and have less leftover clutter when you’re all moved in.
7. Ask for help if you need it.
At some point during move-in, you’ll probably be looking between the stack of items you brought with you and the vacant bed, desk and dresser you’re expected to adorn with your belongings. And while you can picture a before and after, you might also feel overwhelmed knowing how much work it’s going to take to put your side of your dorm room together.
Instead of undertaking the task alone, don’t be afraid to ask for some help. Most likely, your family has already offered—they know you want your dorm to be a home away from home—and there’s also the residential staff flocking your building with luggage carts. Remember—move-in day isn’t supposed to feel difficult. And the people who help you out want your college living experience to be an experience that you don’t regret.