College 101: Dorm Move-In
Welcome to College 101, a weekly series HackCollege will be providing with how-to’s and what-not-to-do’s for incoming college freshmen, and those who think they need a refresher course. This week – the inevitable topic of moving into the dorms.
Congratulations. Your endless summer has finally come to a close. Whether it was a summer of toasting goodbye to friends with late nights by beachside condos or late nights watching Arrested Development and Firefly reruns by your lonesome, your high school life has ended and you are officially beginning life as a college freshman by moving into your dorm.
I understand that not all freshman students choose to live in residence halls, and I bid mine adieu after my freshmen year, but more often than not, the majority of first-years choose to live on-campus in residence halls and some schools even mandate freshmen live on campus. For off-campus tips, check out Laura’s recent posts on moving in.
Everyone has their own story of moving in – some are horror stories, others are tearful goodbyes. For me, it was a combination of the both. I’ll explain what I did wrong and how to avoid that in your move in after the jump.
For the love of God, plan ahead. This is the biggest tip I can do. Not only will knowing what to pack help, but knowing what time to get there and coordinating with roommates and suitemates is ideal. Also, my university made the logistic change to set move-in by last name to help break out traffic this year, but they weren’t so proactive last year. Sometimes it’s worth those last few hours at home with family to wait for a non-peak time to move in.
Look up dorm move-in parking. At universities like mine, where parking is a major challenge, make sure you check the parking restrictions for move-in so you are able to close as park to your residence hall as possible without getting ticketed, booted, or towed.
Plan a family “last supper”. Ours wasn’t planned so my send-off lunch was at Zaxby’s – popular in the South for Zax sauce and being Chick-Fil-A (3x more fried). If I thought ahead, we could have made our goodbye more special with a better restaurant in town and a more formal goodbye. Instead, our goodbye was like the food we were eating – fast.
Don’t let your parents hover. The other end of the coin of planning a “last supper” – it gives a finality to the occasion. I moved in on Wednesday last year, my roommate’s parents were in town until Sunday. It’s okay to stay a day or two if you’ve come a long distance, but know when to say when. This tip was seconded by a good friend of mine who just did her first day of move-in as an RA and almost got taken out by some helicopter parents.
Don’t let move-in taint your view of college. I remember I was scared for a second the weekend of move-in. Some restaurants were still closed from summer, and there were way too many adults for college. Not that I have a problem with our lovely and talented faculty and staff, but they were parents and I was worried. After the first day of classes and our official New Student Convocation, they slowly – in the words of Semisonic – went back to the places they would be from.
On shared space, compromise but don’t be a doormat. During my move-in freshman year, my roommate wanted to have bunk beds. I was pumped for the extra space for activities, but got stuck with top bunk for the entire year and an entire weekend of construction. It’s okay to compromise, but make sure you apply the principle of shared sacrifice. If you’re bunking beds, switch bunks midway through the year. If you’re sharing the fridge, make sure your food is clearly marked. You don’t want to turn into Leighton Meester in this CollegeHumor video.
Be ready for welcome week activities. If you’re eligible for Greek recruitment as a freshman, sororities and fraternities’ rush weeks are usually right after move in. I’ll speak more on the case to go Greek later this week, but residence hall governments, student government, and other student organizations are ripe to recruit students. Keep an ear out and jump in to an organization you think you might be interested in.
Welcome to the best 4 years of your life, and keep checking into College 101 for more tips on making your freshman year the best. Suggest ideas for future College 101 articles in the comments, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.