The start of fall semester always comes with the excitement of moving in to your new place—minus the actual moving in part. Whether your school is down the road or across the country from your house, the hassle of trucking your stuff around has hardly gotten easier since freshman year: 50 pounds of luggage doesn’t feel any lighter, your pile of stuff hasn’t gotten any smaller, and you still haven’t figured out that Undetectable Extension Charm. We know you’re frustrated, and our nerdy Harry Potter references probably aren’t helping. But don’t drop out just yet—first try Her Campus’s recipe for making move-in day as painless as possible.
Good things may come to those who wait, but an easy trip to your first day back at college isn’t one of them. If there’s anything you know you can do before move-in day to prepare, get it out of the way now. Go through the stuff you threw in your basement when you moved out last spring; throwing out and replacing old or broken items and amenities now will save you the hassle of hauling them all the way to campus and hunting for necessities there. Forward your home mail to your campus mailbox, and make sure any textbooks you ordered online arrive at the right place depending on their delivery dates. Preparing well now will save you time and space—both of which you should worry about in physics class, not your new apartment or dorm.
“Be super light with packing,” advises Annie Robinson from North Toronto Collegiate Institute. “If you don’t need it, don’t pack it. Be ruthless with whatever you don’t need.” The easiest way to make sure you don’t over- (or under-) pack is to write a list of everything you truly need before you get started—and be honest with yourself! It’s okay to pack the classic essentials and your newest back-to-school fashion finds, but as a general rule, avoid packing anything perishable, messy, or easily replaceable. Harper Yi from at The College of William & Mary moves by the principle, “Just buy it when you get there.” There are exceptions, says Harper, but only the well-justified ones fly, like specific items you can’t get at school: “I only pack Asian food that is easy to find where I live [at home] since there are tons of Asian grocers back home, but none near my campus,” she says. Check out OneBag.com for additional tips on how not to set foot on campus with loads of luggage Elle Woods-style.
Keeping your bags light is a start, but “professional” packers know to pack strategically, too. Tempted to throw all your stuff into your suitcase and deal with the inevitable wrinkles in your favorite top later? Resist the temptation and instead use those critical thinking skills you keep chatting about in cover letters to streamline the move-in process.“I packed my clothes on their respective hangers,” says Emmanuel College collegiette Hyanna Cardoso. “It took me less than an hour to move into my dorm. I just removed them from my closet [at home], folded them in half, place them in a box (in order of my closet) and voilà”
Take advantage of the resources around you. One tried and true option is to rent a U-Haul, but an even easier answer might be right in front of you. Many schools offer services to help students with move-in day, like storage space and golf carts (or attractive members of the football team). Look for off-campus resources, too; Katherine Mirani from Northwestern University found a particularly convenient program while shopping for the start of the school year: “I used this Bed Bath & Beyond program where you can pick out the stuff you want at a store in your hometown/city, then pick up the stuff at the store closest to your school. It worked out really well and saved me a ton of shipping issues.”
Even if you’re working solo, there’s no need to bear all the weight.“I always used a moving dolly to haul around my stuff,” says UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Michelle Lewis. “It makes [moving in] a lot easier than carrying everything.”
Dress the part.
Just when we were starting to daydream of the perfect move-in, Harper snaps us out of it with more of her sensibility. She makes a point to “not try to look cute on move-in day. You’ll be carrying stuff in, probably in the August heat, and if you try to impress everyone with how cute you look on move-in day, you will inevitably have makeup running down your face and sweat-soaked clothes.” Well, that daydream turned into a nightmare. A better approach, says Harper, would be to “wear sensible clothes, get your stuff moved in, take a shower, change, and then get ready to mingle.” That doesn’t mean you have to dress like Yoda—just adopt the same attitude you would while studying: choose something comfortable and functional that still looks cute enough to wear around campus on your first day back.
Space Jam isn’t just the movie we miss most from the 90’s; it’s also what we call an unfortunate side effect of poor planning and a move-in malfunction. To avoid claustrophobia and a scene from Hoarders, try the following tips for making the most of your tiny dorm or apartment.
- Either before you leave home or once you get to campus, check out local convenience stores or specialty shops like the Container Store for neat space-savers and stackable crates.
- Loft your bed for extra storage or desk space underneath. Ask your RA or the residential life office to provide the necessary tools.
- Invest in products like the Space Bag, which sucks up all the air surrounding your clothes and reduces the space they hog in your closet.
- Consolidate your items. Useful tech gadgets like surge protectors, for instance, can save you time you’d otherwise spend untangling wires and searching for outlets.
- Be creative. As Harper advises,“Maximize zero space. Your rain boots? You can stuff socks into them. Your shoe boxes? Put some camisoles in them. This saves space and trips down to your car when you move in.”
The exhaustion that follows a hard day’s work may tempt you to throw up your hands in frustration with your first-world problems and retire early for the day. But trust us—the time to get settled and make your space livable is now, while you’re in the move-in mode and you still have the time. Use organization methods like color coordination to keep your stuff straight, and label your boxes and drawers to save yourself prep time in the morning, especially for the first few weeks while you get used to your new place. And have fun! Each new school year brings another chance to decorate the walls with your personality. Annie suggests Dormify.com for “interior design must-haves and advice.”
Our six tips are sure to make your first day back less of a hassle so you can get your real school year started sooner. So stop dreading move-in day. Follow our recipe on how to make your first day back easier and we guarantee you’ll like the way you move.