If you’re a resident student, one of the most exciting things about starting college is moving into your dorm. The actual act of moving in, however, can be a bit more of headache than it seems like in theory. Freshman move-in can best be described as somehow choreographed organized chaos. It feels a bit crazy but believe it or not there is a system, and a pretty clever one at that. It goes something like this: Cars are queued up by dorm in the Arts Center Parking Lot and sent a few at a time to the building. When close, you run ahead to get your key. You pull up on the side of the road where Orientation Leaders will greet you quickly, ask for your room number, and start unloading your car. Once everything is in your room someone needs to take your vehicle to the Stadium Lot and then you’re free to unpack, walk around campus, or do whatever else you want until it’s time to meet with your Orientation Group. I can only speak for what goes on at Kearney since that’s where I lived freshman year and where I was assigned last year as an Orientation Leader, but all of the building do follow this same system.
As a former freshman turned OL, I’ve gotten to see move-in day from both sides and I get to do it again this year. With that in mind, here are a few tips that I’ve noticed have made people’s lives a lot easier and the first few hours of their orientation experience a little less stressful.
1. Look at packing as a puzzle, but be mindful of how much you put in each box.
If you pack every little item separately, you’re in for a treacherous trip from your car to your room as you try to balance multiple boxes at a time. It’s either that or take a thousand trips back and forth (and I promise, you don’t want that). Even if it means taking things out of the packaging at home, it’s helpful to consolidate the best you can. On the other hand, It’s great if you can fit a quarter of what you need in a single box, but that doesn’t really help if it ends up being so heavy that no one can lift it. Think logically; you, your family, and your OL helpers have to carry whatever you pack up a flight or two of stairs. Even if your dorm is on the ground floor, It’s a lot easier and faster to move two medium boxes at a time than one large one (that takes multiple people to haul) or five little ones.
2. Pack by area or category.
Orientation flies by and I can promise you you’d much rather be out doing activities than sorting through boxes so it’s great to get as much done in that Thursday morning window as possible. If you organize at home (clothing in one box, desk stuff in another, personal care items in another, etc.) you can get settled much faster. Extra unsolicited advice; invest in plastic sliding drawers or containers. They hold up great year after year and while they provide great in-dorm storage, they double as a place to pack things. This saves a ton of car space and allows you, if you choose to be that organized, to put what you want in them at home, set them where you want in the room, and be basically unpacked.
3. Try to coordinate your move-in time with your roommate.
There’s no rule that you have to come at separate times but doing so can make for a much easier experience, especially if one or both of you have family members helping you move-in. Once you get four or five people plus bags, boxes, mini fridges, and whatever else in small room there’s barely room to move around, let alone unpack and get organized. Letting one person get in earlier and take care of their bigger items before having another group come in with more stuff can make things a lot more pleasant and a lot less hot and cramped.
4. Unpack the necessities first.
It can be really hard to resist the urge to start hanging up photos and posters and arranging keepsakes on your desk immediately but there will be plenty of time for that later. Hang clothes, unpack sheets, towels and toiletries, and put school supplies in your desk so you don’t have to worry about unboxing it all later. Once all that is taken care of you have the rest of that time and the rest of the weekend to personalize your space any way you want.
5. Go with the flow and enjoy yourself!
Move-in day can be a long, stressful, and emotional experience for everyone involved but it signals the exciting beginning of your entire college experience. It feels like yesterday that I moved into my freshman dorm and now I’m halfway through college – It really does fly, so take in every minute of it. Ask for help if you need it or just have a question, that’s what we’re there for! Everyone’s goal is to make you feel as welcome as possible because this is your home now too!