Moving in to your dorm: What you need to know.

Summer is here, and while I am looking forward to three months of relaxation (and blogging, and nannying) I know that that there is an entire new class of college freshman to be looking into move in day. I still remember the excitement and anticipation. I was worried about over-packing, and heartbroken about leaving my family, friends, and boyfriend, but I don’t think that I could possibly have been more excited to start my life at the University of Illinois.

I just finished my sophomore year, and it was my second (and last!) year living in the dorms – and I have learned a thing or two about move in day. This past year I was also an I-Guide which meant I spent countless grueling hours going back and forth moving freshman after freshman into their new home. I saw the over-packers, the kids who brought nearly nothing, and everyone in between. What I’m trying to say is that I’m an authority on college move in if there ever was one.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to moving into your dorm - I covered a ton of the most common concerns and offer a ton of advice for anyone living in the dorms!

Pack Smart.

A successful college move in day all begins with packing wisely. I have an entire post that you can check out here, but I’ll give you some extra pointers, too.

  • Don’t pack more than you need – if you’re going home for Thanksgiving (or before!) it won’t be necessary to bring all of your winter gear. You will want a few pieces in case of an emergency, but chances are you won’t have room to store your entire wardrobe in your tiny dorm room.
  • Don’t over do it – this year (I kid you not) a kid brought a love seat to her dorm room. Not a futon or a small bench, but a love seat bigger than the one in my living room. It easily took up a quarter of her room and probably put her at odds with her roommate from day one. Unless you’re living in a luxury dorm, you aren’t going to want to bring any extra furniture.
  • Be clever – packing the car is truly an art. To up the odds of you fitting everything, stuff any hollow object you are packing with other things. Fill your fridge with shoes, stuff your undergarments in your shower caddy, just make use of every empty space you can!

Do your research.

At the University of Illinois move in day procedure involves a complicated maze of rerouted roads and restricted access to certain areas, and in a perfect world this would make everything go smoothly. Unfortunately, every year people ignore the hundreds of emails, letters, and alerts making us aware of how to work this system to get straight to your dorm and avoid any traffic.

Move in day comes with a ton of stress – don’t create extra stress by coming unprepared. If you go to a small school you might have nothing to worry about, but most larger schools will have a system like this.

So students and parents alike – look up your respective school to see if there is a move in day protocol that you should be aware of. You don’t want to be the ones screwing everything up!

Ship things to school.

Are you in charge of bringing the fridge? Consider shipping it to school rather than buying one and moving it in with you. You can also take a trip to your local Walmart on move in day, too. If you wait to buy larger items like fridges, microwaves, and carpets the car will be less packed.

If you do decide to ship the microwave to school – just make sure that it doesn’t beat you there or it might be sent back depending on your school’s policy!

Communicate with your roommate moving in.

Not just to establish who is bringing what, but to also coordinate when you will be arriving. It is going to be a lot to easier to move in if you aren’t trying to do so at the same time. If your roommate says she is arriving at 2:00 consider getting there at noon.

Be ready to clean.

Be prepared to inherit a layer of dust and grime – even if they are supposed to be clean when you move in, they often are going to be a bit gross. There are a few things you are going to want to bring:

  • Lysol Wipes – these are a college kids best friend! These are a quick fix for spills and dust, and they are great for sanitizing if your roommate is sick!
  • Tide to Go – if you have carpet, chances are you are going to spill take out on it at least once. In my experience a tide to go stick cleans that right up, and no one will ever be the wiser. Plus you want one for your purse or backpack in case you ever spill.
  • Hand Sanitizer – In the dorms, illness spreads like wildfire so you want to be equipped! During flu season hand sanitizer will be your best friend!

Be ready to forget things.

Chances are there will be something you forget. But you can have your parents mail it to you, shop online (considering checking out Student Rate for some great discounts!), or bus to the nearest Walmart. Everyone forgets something important on move in day and it’s not the end of the world – you can borrow until you get your item!

Meet the people on your floor!

Once mom and dad head out take a break from unpacking and organizing and go out and socialize! The first week or two are crucial in making connections – knock on doors and introduce yourself! Try to gather a group to go to dinner together – you want to start off on the right foot!


Moving in can be stressful and emotions will be running high. Whether you are thrilled or terrified or somewhere in between it’s all going to be alright. College is largely what you make it so go in with a good attitude and try to make move in a positive experience.

Did I forget anything? Let me know your best college move in trick in the comments below!