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College Move-In Day Tips: The Ultimate Move-In Day Survival Guide

This post is all about the best college move-in day tips.

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I have some bad news for you –

College move-in day is going to be a struggle no matter how much you prepare.

This is because of how much time and effort it’s going to take you to move all your stuff in and get organized.

But I have some tips that will make your life a heck of a lot easier!

These college move-in day tips will help your day go smoother when you’re moving into your dorm room.

I’ve lived on campus every year since my freshman year of college so I’ve had my fair share of move-in days. These are all the tips you absolutely need to follow to make your life easier on move-in day.

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The Best College Move-In Day Tips:

1. Have personal information accessible

If your move-in day is anything like mine was, the first thing you’re going to have to do is fill out some paperwork to get your keys and access cards.

You’re going to need your ID card and information for an emergency contact so have those on hand so the process goes smoothly.

Your school may require a bit more information than mine did so you want to be prepared for that.


2. Wear Something Comfortable

On my first move-in day, I wore jeans. It was my favorite pair of ripped jeans. Let’s just say they ended with more rips than they started with due to all that work.

Don’t be like me.

Wear something comfortable for move-in day (and dress for the weather). If it’s warm then you can wear a comfortable pair of shorts and a t-shirt. If it’s cold, wear sweats.

I’d also recommend a comfortable pair of sneakers as well. Wearing flip flops or opened toe shoes is great until you drop something on your toe. So avoid it if you can!


3. Move in early!

Most colleges will have a schedule for students moving into their dorms depending on what floor you live on.

I’d recommend arriving on time or a few minutes before your scheduled time so everything can go smoothly.

On the other hand, you could arrive at the earliest possible time available (before your scheduled time) to beat the rush.

The scheduled move in time isn’t actually enforced, just recommended. While it may be counterproductive to do this (if everyone thinks that way), the truth is, it’s almost impossible to beat the rush because hundreds of students will be moving in at once.


4. Get there before your roommate

This is one of the most important reasons to get there early – you have to get there before your roommate!

I’ve always moved in before my roommates and it made my life so much easier.

Getting there first allows you to choose which side of the room you want to take.

You also get the whole room to yourself while you move in so you’re not crammed in with your roommate trying to set up.


5. Pack smart! 

It is so so so so SOOOOO important that you pack efficiently so you can get your dorm room set up even faster.

In my post on how to shop for your dorm and make move-in day easier, I show you THE BEST tips for packing your stuff to make move-in day a breeze.

Don’t just throw all your stuff into boxes and storage bins. That’ll give you so much more work to do when you’re organizing your dorm room.


6. Order things you don’t need later

I figured out this little trick in my senior year and it made my life so much easier.

Instead of ordering the bulky/heavy items in advance and having to pack them in the car and struggle to fit everything, I ordered them after I moved in.

For example, I ordered my pots and pans and kitchen items a few days before I moved in and picked them up from the mailroom when they arrived (two days after I moved in).

Just be sure to order your items no more than 4 days before you move in to make sure the mailroom is open when they’re delivered.


7. Bring snacks

You’re going to be hungry and exhausted while moving in.

Even if you eat right before, it’s going to take you hours to get everything in your dorm room so you’ll be hungry again by the time you’re done.

Chances are, though, you’ll also be too tired to cook (if you have a kitchen) or go get something to eat immediately.

By bringing water and snacks you can take a quick break and get something on your stomach so you’re not starving by the time you’re done.


8. Help your roommate move in

Now that you’ve gotten there before your roommate (and probably got done setting up before them) offer to help them.

You may not have to help them decorate their room or anything but you can at least offer to help them carry stuff up to the room.

It’s a great way to get to know them and show good faith.

It also gets you off to a friendly start with the person you’re going to be living with for the next few months.


9. Don’t stay in your room

If you’re a freshman I’d advise against staying in your room after you move in.

You probably don’t know anyone and you’re probably even too shy to go introduce yourself to new people.

But guess what?

People are usually very friendly in the freshman residence halls. In my freshman year, I forced myself to leave my room and go to the community room in the lobby and I ended up meeting and hanging out with a group of over 10+ other freshman looking to make friends.

If you’re not a freshman you probably don’t care and want to stay in your room (like I did my senior year). Hey, that’s always an option – but you also have the option of going out with your friends or having a movie night!


College Move-In Day Essentials:

Aside from packing all your stuff to move into your dorm. You need a separate bag or storage bin with your move-in day essentials/survival kit to prepare your room for your stuff.

Before you start organizing the room the way you want it you have to clean it and prepare it first!

Here are the college move-in day essentials you need to do this:


1. Cleaning supplies (Clorox wipes, bathroom cleaners)


Like I said before, the first thing you need to do before you move in is clean your dorm room!

Not only has it been collecting dust for months now but you don’t know how well it was cleaned since the last person moved out.

Get some Clorox wipes to disinfect the furniture in your dorm room before you start moving your stuff in.

Then make sure you clean the tub and the toilet before you use them as well!


2. Paper Towels


These will definitely come in handy when you have to wipe things down or if there’s a spill while cleaning up or moving your things into your dorm room.

They’ll also be useful when you start eating your snacks!


3. Swiffer Duster


Your dorm is also going to have a lot of dust since it was vacant for so long.

Rather than try to sweep it away with a paper towel or something else, get a Swiffer duster.

It’ll make things much easier!


4. Door stoppers


These come in handy when you have to carry all your stuff into your room.

You’re going to need all hands on deck when moving in so it can be hard to hold the door open for someone else.

Get some door stoppers to prop the door open when you’re wheeling in some of the heavier items.


5. Toolkit


This will come in handy if you bought any extra furniture you have to set up.

It’ll also be useful if you want to loft your bed and know how to do it on your own.

Plus, if you happen to break anything while moving in (and it’s fixable!) this will help.


6. Trash bags


You’re going to have a lot of trash! More than you think!

You’re going to need trash bags to throw away the packaging for all the new items you bought.

Your regular sized trash bags for your room won’t cut it. Get these large and durable ones to get the job done.


7. Surge protector

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Because you’re going to want to get this out of the way before moving your stuff in.

Rather than bringing in all your stuff then have to crawl under the furniture to plug in your surge protector, get it over with early on move-in day.

You may also want to charge multiple phones for your family while organizing your room. Rather than struggling to find an outlet for that (and any other electronics or tools you’ll want to use) use your power strip.


8. Cart

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This (and I can’t stress this enough) is the most important item you’ll need for move-in day!!

Sure, your residence hall may offer giant bins to move-in, but they usually charge. Plus, you may even have to get in the waitlist because there’s only a limited amount.

This is the best investment you will ever make if you plan on living on campus.

You get to lug so much of your stuff with this (depending on which style you get). Use it for heavier items.

It will make your life so much easier!!!!!


9. Stackable storage bins


I’d highly recommend packing your items in stackable storage bins. They can be used to hold your shoes, purses, and other items.

They’re super convenient because you can easily stack them and store them under your bed to save space.


This post showed you 9 college move-in day tips and 9 move-in day essentials you need to survive the day. Like it? Share it!

The Best Tips for College Move-In Day


Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.


  1. You are spot on about that rolling cart! I bought one just like the one you recommend for move-out day of my daughter’s sophomore year, and what a difference from the previous year where we didn’t get out on time and left stuff behind in our rush! That’s the one I recommend most from your list. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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