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Residence Hall Move-In: Avoiding the Chaos

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“Overwhelming” is a word often used by students and parents when describing move-in day at college residence halls. Imagine hundreds (maybe even thousands) of students and their families, all trying to move in at once. It sounds chaotic, but most colleges provide a very efficient system for move-in day. Expect traffic. Lots of traffic. Expect to wait in line. A lot. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • You will not be the only one moving in

You will be one of hundreds of new students moving in at the same time. Try to get there as early as possible. The later it gets, the more scarce parking will get and the longer the lines will be. Patience will serve you well during move-in. At most colleges, there will be a move-in crew available to help with directions and to answer your questions. Follow the rules provided by the move-in crew – it would be rough to find out your car has been towed because you parked in a restricted zone. Keep your sense of humor – this is temporary.

  • Have everything done the night before moving

Start early and get organized so you are ready to go in the morning. Make a list of everything you need and check it off as you pack it in the car. You are more likely to forget something if you postpone packing. If you haven’t already, look into personal property insurance to safeguard your belongings. Some companies offer a rider on a homeowner’s policy to cover the belongings of students away at college. Contact your current insurance provider for specific information.

  • First come, first served

Assuming you will have a roommate, whoever gets there first will have their pick of what side of the room, bed, desk, and dresser they want. This can be a sensitive subject. If you arrive first and claim your side of the room without consulting your roommate, you may create some resentment. You may want to wait and talk out a compromise with your roommate. If all else fails, try drawing straws. This may be something you want to discuss with your roommate when you contact them prior to school starting.

  • Teamwork is the key to getting everything done in a timely and efficient manner

Once you get to school, it’s all about teamwork. If you are lucky enough to have your family or someone helping you, assign tasks to get your stuff moved into your room. You may be required to have someone wait with your vehicle while you are moving items. This is why it is a good idea to have more than one person helping you.

  • Get to the bookstore early if you haven’t already bought your books

After moving in your belongings, it might be a good idea to head over to the bookstore. Used books are less expensive than new books, but they sell out quickly. If you get to the bookstore early, you may be able to save a lot of money. If you don’t get to the bookstore early enough to get used books, look for an off-campus bookstore that is not associated with your school.

  • Don’t be responsible for someone else’s mistake

Sometime during your first day, a resident advisor (RA) will come by to make a list of any damage that your room has. The school will keep this list and the room will be checked again before you move out. If any new damage is discovered, you will be responsible for that damage. It is important to give your room a thorough inspection and record any damages.

  • Get to know your resident advisor

Your RA is a fellow student. The RA is responsible for upholding rules and regulations and working out disputes, along with many other things. Ultimately, your RA will be the one you will have to answer to if you get in trouble. Break the ice by having a friendly conversation with them when they come by to inspect your room.

  • Get your student ID

Do this on your first day. You will need your student ID to participate in many on-campus activities. Basic things like eating in the cafeteria will probably require an ID. You don’t want to be left in your dorm room when everyone else is in the cafeteria sharing a meal together.

  • Be aware of the day’s schedule

Be aware of when activities for the day begin. Many schools will start Orientation on move-in day. It is important that students make it to their orientation sessions. You may find it boring, but it is the best way to get the information you will need to make a smooth transition into college-life.

  • Saying goodbye

The time will arrive when it’s time to say goodbye. You may be surprised by your emotions. It is very important to let your parent’s know that you’ll miss them, but that you’re happy and excited about your current opportunities. Make sure to thank them for all of their help. Prepare yourself for strong emotions from your parents. You’ve all worked hard for this day and regardless of how much you’ve prepared, it’s going to be difficult.


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