Freshman 15: Tips for Move In Day


After a summer of planning and purchasing all my decor, I was so excited to move in to my dorm. I also was a little anxious because I knew once we finished setting up the room my college life was going to begin. Being prepared for the day, however, made the move relatively smooth and allowed some time for good byes.

At The University of Alabama, you have a specific move in time. We literally pulled our car in front of my dorm building at the designated time, I went inside and received my key while my parents who were with the car were greeted by a team of volunteers who unloaded everything from the car into large rolling boxes and then met me at the door and took everything to my room. Then the real work began.

I know I was fortunate that this was my experience and getting into a dorm room may be a different experience for everyone. So, I will limit sharing what I learned to inside the dorm, except to say make sure you know where to get your key and have it before you unload your car. 

Now to the room, as I said in my post about making your room homey be prepared when you walk in. It is going to look very bare and boring. But, within minutes it looks full because your pile of possessions will fill the available floor space. Before we unpacked anything, my mom had a small bag of cleaning supplies and trash bags. She carried it with her so it did not get lost in the boxes. We wiped down everything, including the plastic covered mattress and inside all the dresser drawers. While the room looked cleaned, I knew it probably had been used for summer camps. So, it just felt good to know I was starting my home away from home with a clean surface.  

Also, if you have a suite style room with your own bathroom, make sure you pack toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels in your cleaning bag!

Since we are talking cleaning, remember to dress comfortably and in clothes that you do not mind if they get a little dirty. Our air conditioner was not working when we first arrived and although they came and fixed it quickly, it was still hot. Also, we brought iced coffees with us and some bottled water. It may seem unnecessary before you arrive, but when you are in the thick of setting everything up, you'll be happy for the convenience of having a cold drink available.

Before unpacking, you'll want to set up the furniture. I had planned my layout before I arrived based on the way I knew I wanted to use each space. If you have a roommate I suggest you talk about the arrangement prior to arrival, especially if you are arriving at different times. If you have to raise or loft your bed, make sure you bring the necessary tools. This can take a little time and you may be anxious to start unpacking, but be patient. It is easier to take one step at a time in a small space.  

Once the room is set up and your bed is at the right height, unpack your foam mattress topper if you have one. Mine took a little time to expand and it needed to air out for a while. If you are arriving by car, I do have a few tips to make unpacking easier. First, leave hanging clothes on the hanger and cover them with tall kitchen garbage bags. I found it made it so easy to just remove the bag and hang them. Second, if you have under bed storage drawers, fill them before you leave home and tape them shut to avoid spilling during move in. Like I said earlier, you may not be the only people handling your items. If you packed your clothes in suitcases, plan to send all of them home except one small suitcase for fall break or Thanksgiving. And, because you want to maximize your space be sure to throw out all the packing material. Also, if you have seen my dorm room, you know I had several items that had to be assembled. My room had a living room and we used that space for building all the items. If you do not have a living area, you may want to check for a floor lounge or even build it outside and carry it in. 

It is exciting to see your room come together. Putting your art on the walls really makes a difference. I used a lot of framed art and I quickly learned the lighter the frame the easier it was to secure. Be sure to know the rules for hanging items on your wall before you arrive. You'll want to be armed with the right tools whether it is an abundance of Command strips, nails and a hammer, or push pins. And, even though you are organized and prepared, you will probably need a run to the store for a forgotten item or to get something that you did not know you needed. Before we left home, we put the addresses of the local Target, Wal-Mart, Bed, Bath and Beyond and CVS in our navigation system. This was so helpful because while I had visited campus a couple times I really had not spent any time in town. I would also recommend you know the location of an off-campus Starbucks and a restaurant or two. Because school has not started yet, the campus Starbucks might have limited hours. And, when you are ready for a break, you will want to just go to lunch or dinner and not have to look up to see what restaurants are close to campus. Trust me on this one! 

Take time to make your bed completely before you stop working on your room. Once my bed was made with all the pillows it just felt like a real room. With beds made and the room put together take a quick pic with your roommate. Your friends and family will want to see your space. But, my advice is to wait to post it until right after your parents leave. Which brings us to saying good bye and even though you may be craving your independence, it is still a big moment in both your life and your parents' lives. You are leaving the nest and everyone (including your parents) is experiencing a mixture of happiness and sadness, and probably a degree of anxiousness. If your room is filled with people, walk out with your parents at least as far as down the hall. Don't be surprised if they have some final advice (let them have this parenting moment). Personally, I took this chance to thank my parents not only for helping me get everything set up, but for helping me get to this point. After a few final hugs, I walked back to my room, sent that room picture to a bunch of friends, which gave me a connection to people. I also hung out with my new roommates. Believe it or not, your new life as a college student starts right at the moment you say good bye. Getting out there and making new friends and living this new life makes it easier even if you are a sad to leave the comfort of home.

I hope your move in goes smoothly and that you have a great start to your freshman year!



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