It was hard to believe the day had finally arrived. I would finally be moving into my dorm room and starting college. I was excited for taking my first assistive technology course, making friends in my classes, and being right outside of Washington, DC. I was less excited about moving into my dorm and unpacking everything. Luckily, my mom, dad, and (teenage) brother helped to make sure everything went smoothly, and we seemed to be professionals by the time I moved in sophomore year. Here is how we executed moving in to my dorm without losing our minds. Please note that I live in a single room, meaning no roommate, with a suite style bathroom shared with 1-3 people.
Does it make sense to buy things in advance?
I was going to be attending a school in my state that was several hours away, and we were driving to get there. It made sense to buy most items at stores in my town, but we waited to buy bulkier items like my mini fridge and desktop computer (more on why I brought a desktop computer here) until we got to the school.
So, what’s in the car?
I have a list of everything I bought for college here (but not all of this was purchased before move-in day), but the items that came with me in the car freshman year were clothes, items for my bed, desk items (no electronics), bathroom items, closet items, a TV stand, and that was about it. Read about all of the technology in my dorm room here. For ten uncommon/”weird” items I brought to college, read this post here.
We took two cars when we traveled to campus, which is a 2.5-5 hour drive depending on traffic. Everything managed to fit in two cars. Everything could have fit in one car, but then people wouldn’t have fit. Note that I was not going to have a car on campus, as I don’t have a driver’s license- read how I travel by public transportation here.
We packed everything in clear plastic boxes to save space and to cut down on waste. Each container was labeled with my name, building, and room number. Even the trash can had a label on it. We didn’t want to worry about things going missing, and nothing did. There were garbage cans in the dorm lobby and places outside to put cardboard and other recyclable items, if needed.
My college has student volunteers that bring bulky items up to the room. This is an awesome resource, and we really appreciated having them available. Check on the housing website when they will be available- usually, there is a time for each building/floor.
Locate the nearest entrance/exit to your room
I lived on the first floor my sophomore year, and we discovered I was right next to an exit door, right across the street from where we had parked. I sat by the door and opened it as my parents made trips out to the car, so we didn’t have to walk all the way around the building.
Unpack bed items first
Right after we got into the room and finished room inspection, my mom set up my bed so I could lie down on it while other things were unpacked. I have a chronic migraine condition and had a migraine coming on by the time we got to the dorm. It felt amazing to be able to rest without feeling overwhelmed about unpacking my bed. Read more about my college bed here.
Take measurements of everything
My brother measured the walls, floor space, desk, bed, closet, window and more so we knew what sized items would fit and how much space I have. My freshman dorm room size rivaled a small closet, as no more than two people could stand in it at the same time, and my sophomore/upperclassmen dorm room was huge!
My resident advisor, or RA, came to visit all of the rooms on move-in day in case we had any questions. This was really helpful when we couldn’t figure out how to work the school-provided vacuum. The RAs in freshmen housing also did a program for the parents later in the evening to answer any questions.
The reason my sophomore year move-in went so smoothly is because we rented a storage unit, located about ten minutes from campus, and put a lot of items in there at the end of the year. We only had to drive up one car as a result.
Move-in can be very stressful, since dorm rooms can be much smaller than they appear, like my freshman dorm, or much larger than they appear, like my upperclassmen dorm. Just take things one at a time, and remember everything does not need to be unpacked, or purchased, all at once.