17 College Move-In Day Tips For Incoming College Freshmen (2021)

Start off your first college semester stress free with these college move-in day hacks.

So you’ve finally made it through high school!

After 4 years of hard work, you’re ready to embark on a solo adventure without your parent’s watching your every move.

Congratulations! This is a huge milestone for you!

Now, you’re probably super excited about moving into your first college dorm. But I’ll be honest with you: moving is stressful!

And it’s even more stressful when it’s your first time doing it or your first time living on your own.

Plus your parents are likely going to be sobbing the entire time you’re moving in, so anything you can do to make the process less stressful will be well worth it in the long run.

To help you prepare to move to college and have a successful college move-in day in 2021, here are 17 must-know college move-in day tips.

Two college freshmen enjoying a meal together in their college dorm room after moving in. The text overlay says, "college move-in day tips for incoming freshmen."

*This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing a product or service through an affiliate will earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please read our Disclaimer Policy for more information about the use of affiliate links on this site.

1. Start packing for move-in day ahead of time

While as a teenager you may have been used to doing things at the last minute, you will want to prepare well in advance for college move-in day.

If you’ve never done it before, moving is time-consuming and tedious.

However, like preparing for your finals in high school, moving is less stressful with proper, timely preparation.

You’ll want to get started with packing far in advance–like a month before move-in day.

By packing early, you can ensure you will have everything you need ready and packed and you don’t have make the 2-hour drive back home because you forgot your mini Keurig on the kitchen table.

2. Label everything

A girl who is labeling her boxes for college move-in day.

When moving you want everything to go smoothly as possible, so staying organized by having all your boxes and items labeled is essential.

Any boxes or items need to be clearly labeled with:

  • Your name
  • A short description of what is inside the box/container
  • A clear warning if the item(s) are fragile

By labeling your moving boxes appropriately, you’ll be able to organize your moving boxes in your car in a way that doesn’t risk breaking your precious items like coffee mugs or your makeup mirror.

Also, labeling things will really help you if you have roommates.

Because trust me, you don’t want to get your items mixed up with theirs and it shows that you’re the owner of the item (in case you end up with a crazy roommate who likes to steal your things).

3. Pack backwards

Similar to how you would pack for a vacation, you’ll want to pack items for your big move in the order of necessity.

That means items, like the ones listed below, get packed first:

  • Prescription medication
  • Contact lenses
  • Electronics (computer, tablet, TV, etc.
  • Required textbooks/material for class
  • Dorm room bedding
  • Important documents (passport, ID card, etc.)

Other items, like clothes, food, makeup, and basic school supplies can always be bought when you get to school if you happen to forget them at home.

You may also like: 27 Essential School Supplies All College Students Need

4. Pack a separate bag of essentials

A bag of essentials for college move-in day.

Sometimes moving doesn’t always go your way.

What if along the road trip to college your car breaks down and you have to spend the night at a hotel? Or what if you get switched at the last minute to a new dorm room?

In these unfortunately situations, it’s a good idea to have a bag full of essential items like:

  • A change of clothes
  • Electronic charging cord
  • Toiletries
  • A few snacks
  • A water bottle
  • Medication(s)
  • Extra cash

That way you’ll always be prepared no matter what life through you on college move-in day.

It’s also way easier to have a bag of essentials than digging through all of your moving boxes and suitcases if you need an item quickly along your road trip to college.

5. Double check your move-in day details

College move-in day is a huge event at university.

There’s hundreds, even thousands of college students moving in at the same time!

Because of this, it is essential you double, even triple check your move-in day details to ensure there wasn’t a last minute change in your dorm room building or roommate situation.

Most likely, you will get move-in day details to your university email at least a month before move-in day from your university’s housing department. Or it will be provided in your university’s online housing portal.

But you can also check your university’s housing website for more details and even university specific tips for move-in day success.

For instance, does your university provide carts or trollies on move-in day? Or will you have to do all the heavy lifting yourself? Your university’s housing website will be able to provide you all those critical details!

6. Contact your roommate(s) beforehand

Two roommates in contact with one another prior to college move-in day.

If you are going to be living with roommate(s), you will want to contact them a month or two before move-in day.

Getting into contact with your roommate(s) will help make move-in day easier on you and them.

By contacting them, you can coordinate ahead of time who is bringing items like a coffee machine, printer, mini fridge, futon, etc.

That way your parents won’t have to lug back home extra items you didn’t need to bring after all. And they’ll certainly appreciate it.

Also, if you’re into having a cohesive dorm room (like matching bed sheets or having a certain aesthetic), you can discuss that with your roommates ahead of time too.

Plus, not to mention, by getting to know your roommate(s) before move-day, you can come to campus with a friend (or two) who you can grab lunch with, study with in the library, or take a workout class with at the gym.

You may also like: The Ultimate Bucket List for High School Seniors

7. Order items at a retailer near campus

One of the worst parts about moving is figuring out how to pack your furniture along with your clothes, toiletries, computer, etc.

A workaround for this is to purchase items, like your:

At store near campus, like Target or Walmart, and just pick it up on college move-in day.

You may not even have to load it into your car by yourself either!

That way you’ll have enough room in your car to fit all of your favorite clothes, dorm room bedding, and other moving boxes without someone, like your mom or daad, being smushed in the backseat and having an uncomfortable car ride.

8. Bring cleaning tools and supplies with you

Cleaning supplies for college move-in day.

Unfortunately moving into your college dorm room isn’t going to be like walking into a freshly cleaned five-star hotel room.

While it may have been cleaned by the previous inhabitant, you’ll want to do some cleaning yourself before you start unpacking.

With that being said, it’s advisable to bring your own cleaning supplies, like a vacuum, sanitizing wipes/spray, and air freshener, with you on college move-in day.

Plus these items are handy to have all school-year long, so it doesn’t hurt to stock up on them before heading to campus to move-in.

9. Bring snacks (and coffee)

Moving takes a lot of energy, not to mention exhausting, if you’re driving a few hours to get to campus.

Plus, moving and being hangry is a terrible combo!

And trust me, you don’t want to be fighting with whoever is helping you move in just because of hunger.

With that being said, you’ll want to bring a few of your favorite snacks and your choice of caffeinated beverage.

I’d highly recommend bringing and eating snacks, like protein bars and nuts, that will keep you full for a longer period of time.

You may also like: 17 Self-Care Ideas For Stressed College Students

10. Wear comfortable clothes

A girl wearing comfy clothes on college move-in day and is packing her car.

Although making a great first impression is important, staying comfortable while moving is way more important!

On move-in day, you’re bound to do a lot of stair climbing, bending, twisting, turning, and maybe even some running.

And you don’t want to do that in a pair of high heels, a dress, or in a pair of tight skinny jeans.

So instead, leave your best outfit in your move-in boxes and opt for a comfy move-in day outfit like:

And don’t worry about looking underdressed or not cute. Everyone is going to be too busy moving into their own dorms and they’ll be looking like a hot mess too!

11. Have all of your personal information ready

When you arrive on campus, you may need to fill out paperwork or show a form of ID to get access to your dorm/apartment, so it’s important that you have all of your information ready and easily accessible.

I’d recommend carrying a purse or wristlet that contains both your government issued ID and university ID.

The best method I’ve found is to carry an acrylic ID holder attached to a keychain bracelet with your car keys. That way you can have both IDs easily accessible without having to dig around in your bags.

12. Plan on arriving to campus early on college move-in day

A girl who arrived to campus early on college move-in day and is unpacking.

Whether you’re moving to college 10-minutes away or 10 hours away from home, plan on arriving early to campus the day you move in.

That way you’ll have enough time to fix any issues that may arise move-in day and have enough time to say goodbye to your parents or whomever is helping you move in.

Also, if you are going to college out-of-state, arriving to your college town early and staying in a hotel for a night or two will give you time to walk around the city, find great places to eat or study, and to find where you classes are for the upcoming semester.

13. Go to your dorm room before you start bringing stuff in

Unfortunately, the dorm rooms you see on your university’s housing website may look nothing like what you’ll actually be moving into on college move-in day.

Not to mention, you never know if you’re going to be given a “broken” dorm room with a broken window, door that won’t fully lock, or a leaky faucet.

With that being said, it’s essential that after you check in, you immediately go to your dorm room and check everything!

Check to make sure:

  • Every door can lock and close fully
  • Sink faucets are working properly
  • There is no mold or weird smells
  • Windows are not broken and can be locked and opened if needed
  • Air conditioner is working
  • Laundry machine is functional
  • No writing or drawings on the wall
  • Any furniture that comes with the dorm/apartment aren’t broken
  • No stains on the carpet, walls, or furniture
  • Etc.

And if something is broken or stained, be sure to:

  • Tell someone, like your Resident Assistant, about it (and write down their name!)
  • Take a photo of it
  • Write down your observation and document the time and date you found it

Documenting any issues you have with your college dorm room or apartment can prevent you from being blamed on an issue when it’s time for you to move out.

Once you have inspected your room, start making a mental game plan on how you will arrange your items–especially your large furniture items.

And afterwards, give your dorm room a nice, thorough clean with the cleaning supplies you brought and start unpacking!

14. Arrive before your roommate(s)

A girl who arrived to college on college move-in day before her roommate.

If possible, try to arrive before your roommate so you can get dibs on your bedroom or bed and be of help to your roommate(s) when they arrive later to unpack.

It’s also useful getting there early to resolve any dorm room issues that may arise that may prompt a switch in dorm rooms altogether or switch in a roommate.

However, don’t forget that you and your roommate(s) are in it for the long-haul, so don’t arrive early thinking you can control every little detail of the dorm room.

You, hopefully, want to make their living situation comfortable and enjoyable, so be fair to your roommates and communicate with them about your move-in day plans ahead of time.

15. Figure out where to get food

College move-in day is a long and exhausting day! So be sure to make time to grab a celebratory lunch or dinner after the unpacking has been completed.

This will also give you the opportunity to explore your food options around or on-campus and spend time with your loved ones before they leave you on your college journey.

16. Get out of your room

Two college girls meeting for the first time after college move-in day. They are having coffee together.

After unpacking and making your dorm room feel like home, it’s very tempting to want to hide out in your dorm watching Netflix until classes start up.

However, I encourage you to get out of your dorm room and start meeting people in your building and bonding with your roommate(s).

College, unfortunately, can be very lonely without having some people to endure the highs and lows with.

Meeting people in college who you can hang out with on the weekends, grab dinner with after class, or take a fun Zumba class with can make all the difference in your college experience.

Plus, everyone who moved in with you are all in the same boat: they all feel just as nervous as you about this whole college thing. So why not find a friend or two who can help ease the first week of college anxiety?

17. Don’t forget to thank whoever helped you move-in

Finally, it’s important that you thank and be gracious towards the person or people who helped you move-in.

Moving is difficult on anyone and whoever helped you took time out of their day to help you transition to college life.

So give them a hug, write them a thank you card, or treat them to some Starbucks.

Just do something to let them know you’re grateful for their help and moving into your dorm wouldn’t have been possible with out them.

Closing thoughts on college move-in day tips

Moving to college is a big deal for anyone.

It’s a moment that symbolizes the start of your independence and newfound freedom from your parents.

As stressful as moving may be in any situation, I hope these college move-in day tips for incoming freshmen helped you figure out some ways to make your upcoming move-in day easier.

And whether your move-in day is seamless or a complete nightmare, I know for sure you’ll make unforgettable memories from it! Good luck!

Related posts to how to make your college move-in day easier

Save this blog post to read or refer back to later by clicking the Pinterest share button below this image.

A college freshman moving into her first college dorm on college move-in day.

Thanks for reading about college move-in day tips (2021).