College Move-In Day: 8 Tips to Help You Prepare

Getting ready to move into your dorm? It might feel daunting. But with these tips, you can prepare for college move-in day and feel less stressed out.
3 min read

Share this Article

College move-in day will be exciting and memorable. However, it takes a little preparation so it will go off without a hitch. Each college also has its own guidelines for move-in, so it's important you know what to expect.

Data shows that almost 60% of full-time private students and 36% of full-time public students live on campus. This means you'll have to navigate around a significant number of people who are doing the same. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

What Do I Need to Bring on College Move-In Day?

On move-in day, you'll need to bring some crucial items and documents, in addition to personal items like clothes, toiletries, and electronics. For example, you'll need to have a valid photo ID, confirmation of your dorm room assignment, and any other documents the school asked you to bring. These items are often required to sign for and receive the keys to your dorm room.

In addition, you may want to bring a four-wheel, flat-folding cart to help you transport your belongings. This can help you move heavy items more efficiently and reduce the number of trips you take.

How to Prepare for College Move-In Day: 8 Essential Tips

Moving into your college dorm can take longer than necessary if you don't properly prep for the day. Take the time to plan and ask for help from your family and friends in advance so you can complete the task like a pro.

1. Start Packing Early

Prep the summer before you head to campus. Begin by making a packing checklist to ensure you take only the essentials. Starting early will also ensure you get the things you want before high-demand items become scarce.

2. Make a List of Things to Buy at School

Whether traveling to your college by car or plane, space is limited. So make a list of dorm essentials you can buy in your college town.

Items such as notebook paper, pens, detergents, snacks, and cleaning products can be easily picked up at your local supermarket or campus store. Your local store may even offer curbside pick-up.

3. Have Larger Items Delivered Curbside

If you're bringing larger items like a mini fridge, a mattress, or even a shelving unit, consider having those items shipped to your dorm.

Most colleges will have a specific address and window of time you can have large move-in items shipped to campus. You can also take advantage of many stores that have curbside pick-up and order ahead online.

4. Pack for the Current Season

Since space is at a premium in your dorm, try to pack only for the current season. Bulky sweaters can take up a lot of space in a drawer, so it's best to leave them at home for now.

You can always switch out your clothes when you go home for a visit or during fall, winter, and spring breaks.

5. Pack Like a Pro

There are several key tips to pack like a pro. Pack all your items in plastic storage bins instead of cardboard boxes, and remove them all from their original packaging. This will eliminate the need to break down boxes and toss all that extra rubbish.

Have More Questions Before Heading Back to School?

Dive into our collection of back-to-school resources to find tips, checklists, and insights from real students.

Read More right arrow

6. Coordinate With Your Roommate

Communicating ahead of time with your college roommate can prevent you both from duplicating unnecessary items. Space in college dorms is limited, so you might want to share essential items like a mini fridge, coffee maker, and microwave.

7. Figure Out Your Move-In Time

Most colleges have set times to move in that vary by residence hall. This information can usually be found on your college's housing page.

It's a good idea to coordinate with your roommate so you can move in in shifts. This way you're not stepping all over each other due to the limited space in your dorm.

8. Find Your Move-In Buddies

Your entire family will probably want to accompany you to your dorm. However, the reality is space will be tight. Save the goodbyes for your house, and enlist two family members or friends to help you unload and unpack.

Access to elevators may have long wait times, so someone who's willing to trek up a flight or two may be your saving grace.

Frequently Asked Questions About College Move-In Day

Do you have to move in on move-in day?

At many colleges, you do not have to move in on the first day designated as "move-in day." This is just the first day you can bring your items to your dorm. Many schools have a designated week during which you can move in.

Some colleges, however, give you an appointment for a specific date and time to move in. Be sure to verify the dates you can move in on your college's housing website to see whether there are any stipulations.

Can I change the time of my move-in appointment?

Some colleges have assigned times for students to move in. They schedule appointments to create an easier flow of students moving in.

While some schools may assign move-in times, others may allow you to select your own time. Check your college's website to see what your residence hall does.

Will there be volunteers or staff to help me move in?

You'll need to contact your school to verify whether there will be people to help you move in. With hundreds of students moving in daily, many schools count on volunteers to assist you on move-in day.

Information about move-in assistance at your residence hall can usually be found on your campus's housing webpage.

What if I miss the designated time to move in?

If you arrive outside your scheduled move-in time, volunteers or school staff will not be present to assist you. This means you'll need to make other arrangements to move your items from your car to your dorm.

Additionally, you'll need to make arrangements with those in charge at the residence hall to pick up your keys and access cards. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare Your School Options

View the most relevant schools for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to finding your college home.