No matter how prepared you are, college move in day is stressful and emotional, both for the parents and for the student. We asked experienced college parents what their top tips were for move in day, and we think you will find this list helpful to make sure you are prepared for the big day.
1. Talk through the plan ahead of time
Move in day is fast paced and stressful. Having a plan ahead of time of who will handle what can save a lot of arguments and frustration on move in day. There is usually a very short window of time to park in front of the dorm to move things from the vehicle to the room, so talking through the order of events can help everyone stay focused and in charge of their responsibilities. Remember, this is going to be your student's home, so let them be ultimately in control, even if it isn't done the way you would do it.
2. Expect the unexpected
College move in is never a fairytale moment. Emotions are high, things will go wrong, and it's going to be OK. You may realize you forgot something important at home, something may get broken in the moving process, and you may not get the parking space or cart you hoped for. Breathe and be patient. At the end of the day, items can be ordered and replaced. The most important thing to remember is that you have all worked hard for this day and your student is about to embark on an exciting new adventure.
3. Limit who comes to move in day
As a family who has dreamed of this day for years, it can be hard to limit the list of who comes along to help on college move in day, but it is best to keep this day to the parents/guardians and student only if possible. It can be tempting to want to bring siblings, grandparents, girlfriend or boyfriend, but the move in time slots are short and emotions are high, and this event is about moving the student in as quickly as possible, letting them lead, and getting out of the way so they can start settling in and making friends. This can be hard for tight knit families and younger siblings, but this is the student's day and extra friends and family members can be a distraction and can slow down the process. Try to schedule a move in slot at a different time from the student's roommate to minimize the number of people inside the room.
4. Don't overpack
Say it with me... "just because it's cute and I saw it on Pinterest, doesn't mean my student needs it in their dorm room". Most dorm rooms don't have an overabundance of storage space, so remember to pack lightly. Many items can be shared between roommates or suitemates. You will probably be back in four or five weeks for parent's weekend, so you can always bring more items with you, and don't forget about our good friend Amazon and WalMart that can deliver to your student.
5. Load the car strategically
Remember the "first in, last out" rule, and make sure you have the most important items, such as tools, a dolly or collapsible wheeled cart if possible, and cleaning supplies ready at the back of the vehicle to be taken out first. Unbox and preassemble as much as possible ahead of time and pack small items in IKEA style zipper bags to reduce the amount of trash accumulated on move-in day. Label everything with the student's name, cell number, dorm and room number. Pack clothes on hangers inside an IKEA style bag to be quickly unloaded in the dorm room.
6. Unpack purposefully
If you are allowed to have three people, consider leaving one person in the room to start on the important things such as putting down a door stopper, wiping down all surfaces, unrolling the mattress topper and plugging in the refrigerator and fan while the student and second adult unload the vehicle and bring items up to the room. If you're planning on lofting the bed, do that before you bring too many things inside the room. Help unpack but don't decide where things will go. That is up to your student.
7. Say the big goodbyes and speeches ahead of time
Don't overstay your welcome. Help them get everything in, cleaned, and bed made, then it's time to let them start getting settled in their room and meeting new friends. Plan on doing the big goodbye before you get to the campus unless your student wants to go out to lunch or dinner after move in (their decision!). Say the speech you've been rehearsing all summer, tell them how proud of them you are, but don't wait until the rush of move in to do it or until you are about to drive away. Let the last moment be a happy, proud, joyful moment. Place a card under their pillow for them to find later that day. Try to hold your tears for the car so your student doesn't see you upset. You've all worked hard for this day. Celebrate with them, even if the tears are flowing on the inside.
Bonus tip: Wear your comfiest, not your dress to impress outfit. Eat ahead of time and bring a cooler with water and snacks! Move in day is usually hot and builds up a sweat, so having cool drinks and snacks can boost moods and reduce a hangry episode.
Extra bonus! Download our free college move in day packing checklist here!