As you begin to get organized and pack, I know there are so many emotions that come with sending your child to college no matter the year! My first is always… where did the summer go? I’m so thankful for our weekends at the lake with the girls and friends and our wonderful trip to Spain just the five of us.
I find that being organized and having a plan helps me keep it all together…until we drive away at least! When my daughter was an incoming Freshman, I asked readers and Instagram followers for your best “move-in” tips and hacks. Your suggestions were wonderful and I couldn’t be more appreciative. I’ve now added more to this list and think it applies not just to freshman students, but all college students moving in the dorm, apartment or house.
Here is a practical list for those experiencing this rite of passage with one or more of your kids. You can also print these tips here.
Tips for College Move In Day
1. Make a List: Make a list of what you need by category – Room Items, Bedding, Desk, etc. – and check it off as you pack and unpack. You can download mine here.
2. Bring Snacks and Drinks: Time passes quickly and there will be a lot to do so bring something to eat and drink. No one needs to be Hangry today!
3. Cleaning Supplies: Bring those Clorox wipes we are all keeping handy. Although your room will have been cleaned, weeks may have passed and dust will abound! Also include paper towels, a few trash bags and a room deodorizer. We also ended up buying a small “stick” vacuum. The dorm vacuums were always missing or broken.
4. Plug in the Fan ASAP: You’ll still be sweating but you’ll be glad you did this!
5. Ikea Frakta Zipper Bags – These top recommended bags fit just about anything and are sturdy enough not to fall apart on you while moving in. They are also great when it comes time to pack things up once summer arrives. Store them under their bed so that they are there already!
6. Hanging Clothes Tips – Put your hanging clothes on slimline hangers. We use these slimline hangers to make more room in the closet and then folding in half in duffels or suitcases to check on the plane. This will keep your clothes clean and protected and also makes it easy to hang in your closet. Fewer wrinkles and faster setup. My husband thought I was crazy but said “You were right!” Don’t you just love it when that happens!?
Several of you sent this great tip for hanging clothes if you are driving: Pack hanging clothes in unscented or scented trash bags. All you need to do is poke a hole at the bottom of the trash bag and with the hangers on, pull the trash bag over the hanging clothes. Hang them on a rod in your backseat.
7. Toolbox – Even the most simple things sometimes require a hammer or a screwdriver. They will also use it for things over the years. We needed it for this Elfa Compact Fridge Cart, lofting the beds and hanging curtains. Don’t forget the tape measure. My hubby thought to bring his drill which was genius! Others borrowed it, too! (Note: He had to remove and put tape on the battery to carry it on.)
8. Gel Mattress Pad: The mattresses are like the ones at camp…covered in vinyl and not at all comfortable!
9. Personalized First Aid Kit – Be sure to create a personalized First Aid kit specifically made for your daughter or son’s needs. This could include medications, creams, Band-Aids, and more. I’m doing this only for an allergy medication that she takes often. Reinforce that these medications are for THEIR USE ONLY! Remember to bring a small safe for any prescription medications. Many universities have VERY strict policies on medications and have NO tolerance policies for prescriptions that get into the wrong hands for any reason. This means over-the-counter as well as Rx medications.
10. Small Safe: We kept her extra car key, passport, any Rx medication, and nice jewelry in a safe like this one attached under her bed.
11. Invest in an Air Purifier and/or dehumidifier – If your child suffers from bad allergies or even just likes clean air this product is a major must-buy. The dorms are not the most updated and clean and having an air purifier will help them adjust to their new living environment easier. An air purifier can efficiently purify indoor air by getting rid of harmful pollutants, such as dust, pollen, smoke, odor, mold spores, and pet dander. This is great for really old dorms or apartments!
12. Fan or Air Circulator – Many schools don’t have well-regulated heating and cooling systems and having a fan will keep their room at the temperature they want. We chose this one. My daughter’s dorm didn’t have A/C so we needed both and added this tower fan.
13. Ship all you can – Ship direct to their college address, a college storage facility, or a local UPS Store and you can pick up once you arrive in town. In order to not be fighting lines at central receiving on move-in day, I found a company that stores college dorm and apartment items during the summer and receives items as well. They will deliver to her dorm room the day before move-in day!! We had both The Container Store and Not Just Dorms as well as all Target and Amazon orders shipped to College Storage Services in California, however they have recently retired. There are tons of them if you Google College Storage. Try www.collegeboxes.com which I think allows you to choose what state you will be in. They will also store dorm items that you don’t want to haul home for the summer and bring back. If you know of others, let me know in the comments and I’ll add them here.
14. Sharpie for Labeling – You may want to label everything you shipped directly. If your college offers laundry service this is a must! It will also help keep things sorted with their roommate or suitemates.
15. Secure a Medical Power of Attorney – This simple yet often overlooked piece of advice is one to really think about. Remember, if your child is 18 or older, and has been injured or in an accident, the hospital or doctors will be unable to speak to you unless you have this document.
16. Consider using an auto transport service – If your child is venturing far from home, like mine, you may want to consider using a reliable transport service to deliver their car. After much research, we are using Number 1 Auto Transport. They can ship cars anywhere in the country and are so great to deal with. They are helping organize a full truck of cars to California for us and other families.
17. Get an Early Move-in Spot – On move-in day, sign up for the earlier time slots because the weather will be cooler and the wait time and crowd will be much smaller. Some schools won’t have specific times so just plan to go early.
18. Pack your car in reverse – If you are driving, consider packing your car in the reverse order of the things you will need to load in. Of course, this advice may go “out the window” if your college has an enthusiastic group of current students that descends upon your car and graciously helps you unload! Remember to have labeled the bags or boxes with what is inside.
19. Folding Dolly – This will help you keep from making so many trips to and from the car. One reader said they have used this in every move since freshman year and around the house as well!
20. Have Fun! – This can be a really fun day if you let it be. My daughter and her roommate were more interested in setting up their desks and jewelry than making the bed or organizing the closet. We just divided and conquered! Know that they may want to go with their roommate to see what the Bed Bath and Beyond pop-up has or even stand in the hall talking to new friends for a while. Just do what you can.
21. Saying “See you later!” – Plan a time together before you leave, like eating a meal at a local restaurant or grabbing a Starbucks on campus. Remember, it’s not really goodbye, but rather “see you later”! It may be helpful to pick a specific time to “officially” make your way off campus. Our school has a mandatory orientation for all students, which has made leaving a bit easier. They even provided note cards and pens for us to write a note because they “knew we’d been busy and probably hadn’t had time!” If yours doesn’t, consider placing a note in their desk drawer wishing them luck on their new adventure!
If you are doing this process for the first time or have done it before, please leave me your thoughts below now or after move-in and I’ll add them, too. Best Wishes to all for a successful move and school year whether you are headed across town or across the country, online or on campus!
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