If this is your first year at college, you’ve likely been anticipating move-in day for some time. Moving into student housing is one of the most exciting parts of finally going off to school. However, moving can be an overall stressful experience. As you pumped up as you may be, it can be a long day fraught with chaos and confusion. You’re going to be tired when all is said and done, and if you don’t have the right stuff with you, you may even get frustrated.

Going in with a plan is the best way to ensure that move-in day is one that is filled with happy memories and does not turn into a disaster. Follow our tips to prepare for college move-in day, and before long, you will be settled in comfortably. 

Pick a Time

Many college campuses will offer time slots for students who are moving in to avoid a rush all at once. If your school is one of them, we recommend you sign up for a designated time early. You will want to consider a few things first, however:


If you about to embark on your education in the sunny south, consider that an August move is likely to be scorching. Midday, the sun will be beating down, and the humidity can be brutal. If this is the climate where you are going, you may want to schedule your move either very early in the morning or after the sun goes down. This way, you can avoid nasty things like dehydration and heat exhaustion.


If you can enlist a couple of family members or friends as helpers to get you settled in, do so. Just remember that they have lives and schedules too. Try to make sure you choose a time that is convenient for everyone.


If your campus is located in a large city, rush hour is no time to be trying to make a move. Avoid the morning and the afternoon commute if you can so you don’t get stuck in traffic.

Late-Night Moves

Some schools offer midnight time slots for students to move in. This can be an ideal time as it will be less busy, less crowded, and you can get things done faster. Just make sure your helpers are down with the late hour, and your new roommate is OK with you showing up at night.

Consider the Parking Situation

While many campuses have ample parking, older schools in the city may have very little. You should consider this ahead of time as you might not be able to pull up to the door and empty your car.

If you can find a parking spot close by, that would be ideal. Check with the school to see if you need a special permit to stay parked on the street while you unload. This is a situation where it helps to have more than one person. This way, someone can stay with the vehicle while the others unload the car. You will probably have to make several trips, and it’s not comfortable leaving your things unattended in a strange place.

You might want to consider bringing a dolly or foldable cart to help you move your things in. The dorm will probably have a few of these, but it’s not guaranteed. A cart can help you get the job done faster and allow you to make fewer trips to and from your vehicle. 

Check in With Your Roommate Before Moving Day

Once you know who your roommate is going to be, get in touch with them to talk over the logistics of moving in. You may even be able to schedule a time where you can help each other out with the task. Discuss things like what each of you will be bringing so you don’t have duplicates. You won’t need two toasters, coffee makers, or microwaves. Offer to bring shared items like this and choose who should bring what.

Packing Your Things

One of the best ways to pack your items is to use sturdy plastic totes. Once they are emptied, they are stackable and easily stored. They can also double as laundry hampers and extra storage for bulky winter apparel and extra blankets. It can help if you tape on a label of the contents of each bin, so you have items handy as you need them, and you know what to unpack first.

Many students unnecessarily overpack, bringing nearly everything they own with them. Remember, you can always get someone to mail you a forgotten item or winter coat if necessary.

Pack your basic casual clothes and walking shoes, pajamas, socks, and underwear. Don’t forget any special toiletries or medications you might need. You will also want at least one professional outfit for events and career fairs.

Extra Items to Bring

The front desk at your dorm will probably have several of the necessary items needed for move-in day, but these tools may already be in use by other students. Bringing your own along will ensure you can get set up quickly. Not to mention, having some handy tools available can help you make some new friends. 

1. Cleaning Supplies

Chances are, your room is not sparkling clean and may have a few dust bunnies and dirt here and there. Bring along a broom and dustpan, some cleaning wipes, magic erasers, and some all-purpose spray and paper towels. This way, if you want to freshen things up, you will have all the tools on hand to do so. 

2. Rubber Mallet

Many dorm room beds are loftable, but you will need a rubber mallet to change the height. This handy tool can be had for just a few dollars at most five and dime stores.

3. Scissors 

If you have boxes to open or things to untie, a pair of scissors will come in handy. You will probably find yourself reaching for this item many times throughout the year.

4. Hooks, Tacks, and Wall-Mounting Strips

Depending on the policies at your school, you may not be able to make holes in the wall to hang pictures or other essentials, so you will want to invest in some sturdy wall mounting strips to organize things like robes, jewelry, towels, etc.

5. Trash Bags

On move-in day, it is inevitable you will have some extra trash or recyclables to get rid of. A box of trash bags will come in handy when you need to remove clutter and packing materials.

6. Toilet Paper

Yes, your dorm is probably equipped with toilet paper, but with so much activity, there is a chance they could run out. Bring along some extra toilet paper just in case. This way, you know you’ll never have to drip dry.


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