The College Move-in Guide

By Mason Braasch

Fall is quickly approaching, and recent high school graduates everywhere are anxiously awaiting college move-in day. As an incoming junior now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I look back at the summer before college and laugh at the hours of research for dorm supplies, stress about moving into my dorm and fears of leaving my childhood home. Parents and students everywhere face the same type of stressors every year as move-in day approaches. With this in mind, I’ve compiled my best tips as someone who has lived through the experience.

In the weeks leading up…

Between the stress of packing and the spectrum of emotions that come with college move-in, many incoming college students and parents find themselves fighting more often than ever. This was certainly the case for myself, as packing often created a lot of tension between my mom and I. This is a common phenomenon for many of the students that I have met at college as well. For many, tension and unnecessary fights in a student/parent relationship occurs in the weeks leading up to college move-in as a way to postpone the sadness and hard emotions that come with the occasion. Although it is a stressful and sometimes sad period of time, try not to get caught up in little skirmishes and instead take advantage of the time together.

Communication in college…

For a lot of new college parents, it can be frustrating to try to contact your student. For a lot of new college students, it can be irritating to find time in your busy schedule of meeting new friends and experiencing your first bit of freedom to chat frequently with parents. The easiest way to avoid these dilemmas is to have clear expectations from the get-go about how you want to stay in touch. Some parents may like to be updated daily about college life, while others may prefer weekly chats. Having a conversation about these expectations can avoid hurt feelings down the road. Finding windows of time for long phone calls can sometimes be difficult for busy students and working parents.

Apps like Snapchat and Marco Polo allow users to send short videos back and forth. These allow for plenty of communication, even with contrasting schedules. My mom downloaded Snapchat my first week of college; while we still chat on the phone often, we use the app almost daily to share pictures of our days and stay connected.

The dorm essentials…

In the months that led up to my college move-in day, I spent hours on the university’s housing website researching my dorm, reading blogs of what I needed to succeed and making plans for how I would decorate my dorm. In the excitement of cute comforters, wall art and throw pillows, many incoming freshmen overlook some of the most crucial dorm staples. Here is my list of lifesavers for college freshman:

  • Many. Clorox Wipes.
    On move-in day and beyond, Clorox wipes, along with other basic cleaning supplies, are a must-have for dorm living. They are the easiest way to keep your small space clear of dust, stickiness or any other messes you are sure to make!
  • Extension Cords
    Dorms are notorious for not having enough outlets to create a bedroom/study space. Between lamps, fans, phone chargers and more, you will want a couple of extension cords.
  • DampRid
    Even if you are fortunate enough to have air conditioning in your dorm, fans and anti-moisture agents are essential for keeping your space comfortable. For those who have to live without A/C, DampRid, a moisture absorber you hang in your closet, will keep your clothes free of odors.
  • Storage. Storage.
    No matter how much built-in storage your dorm offers, you will need more. Rolling utility carts are great for storing books, food or extra supplies.

What to leave at home…

What may be even more important than what you bring to college is what you leave at home. With such limited storage in dorm rooms, knowing what is non-essential will help make your space feel clutter-free, and save you lots of headaches throughout the year.

  • An abundance of throw pillows
    Throw pillows make twin XL dorm beds look cute, but take up so much space when your bed isn’t made. Stick to one or two cute throw pillows on your bed, and save yourself the annoyance of tripping over a mountain of pillows every single morning.
  • An extra set of sheets
    Lots of blogs that I read suggested having an extra pair of sheets to throw on your bed for when you wash your bedding. Mine sat at the bottom of my closet all year and never left the package that I bought them in; save yourself the space and the money.
  • An iron or steamer
    While they might seem like home essentials, an iron or steamer is not something that any college student will need throughout the year. If you’re worried about wrinkled clothes, try Downy Wrinkle Releaser instead.

Moving into college is a scary and stressful experience for students and parents, but it is important to remember that it is also an exciting and memorable one. Between all the shopping, packing and organizing, take time to enjoy the experience together.

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