College move-in day tips for parents


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Attending college is a big milestone that both parents and students look forward to for many months.

While this is a highly anticipated event, college move-in day can be a very stressful and emotional day for both students and parents. Attending a college that is out of state can be another nerve-wracking factor.

Moving can be challenging, especially if it’s hot or you have to climb up several sets of stairs. While you might not feel prepared, there are several things you can do ahead of time over the summer that can help make the day go smoother and faster.

Getting organized beforehand is one surefire way to prepare for the big move as a college freshman. Here are a few ideas to help you and your child get ready for move-in day.

Related: Do you have to apply for a parent plus loan every year?

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1. Getting Familiar with Dorm Room Rules

College move-in day tips for parents

Being prepared and learning what the college dorms allow students to bring can relieve some potential headaches. Colleges typically post a list of items that students can bring and ones that are prohibited in the residence halls.

Sticking to the basics is a good start since your child can buy more items from a local store or have it shipped to them at a later date.

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2. Coordinating with Your Roommate

College move-in day tips for parents

Recommend that your child contact his/her roommate over the summer and discuss their interests and what items each of them are bringing. This can be one way to help avoid bringing duplicates, especially for larger items like futons.

Another idea is to coordinate the time you are going to move in so you can assist each other during the process. This can also be helpful if the parents are interested in meeting each other.

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3. Packing with Purpose

College move-in day tips for parents

Packing can be a frustrating task, but one way to expedite the chore is to have your child label all the containers and boxes. If you have items that are more fragile, consider putting them into heavy plastic containers so they are less likely to be damaged during the move.

Additionally, consider making a list of must-have items, to limit the chance that something important is forgotten. For example, bedding, computer, school supplies, a first aid kit, and basic tool kit, which can be extremely useful on move in day.

If your child is attending a college that is out of state or in a different climate, you may have to build out a more weather-appropriate wardrobe. For instance, if your son or daughter is moving to a college in the Midwest from Florida, you might buy and pack weatherproof boots, jackets, scarves, gloves, and other clothing suited for colder temperatures.

If he or she is attending college in a warmer climate, consider packing more t-shirts and shorts and leave some of the sweatshirts and wool sweaters at home.

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4. Planning Travel Arrangements

College move-in day tips for parents

Once you’ve organized and packed all of your child’s belongings, it’s time to decide how you’ll get everything to campus. This will likely depend on factors like how far away the school is.

Consider renting a SUV or moving van if the university is within driving distance if you own a smaller vehicle. If you plan on driving, pack the car strategically, so items you’ll need first (like cleaning supplies), are easily accessible when you arrive.

If you’re planning to fly to the college, another strategy may be to mail some of the belongings to the residence hall ahead of time, if it is permitted.

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What to Expect on Move-In Day

College move-in day tips for parents

While going to college is really exciting for you and your family, consider limiting the number of people you bring with you on moving day. You know the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen,” well the same philosophy can apply to a move.

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1. Visit Later

College move-in day tips for parents

Having too many people could actually slow down or complicate the process. Plus, it’s likely that many students and their parents will all be in the residence halls at the same time. Dorm rooms can be pretty small and having more people in the hallways could create more chaos and tension.

Instead, consider planning a visit when there is more flexibility. Many colleges have a family weekend in the fall. This could provide an opportunity for a longer, more relaxing and fun visit, especially if grandparents, aunts, and uncles also want to tag along.

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2. Bring a Fan

College move-in day tips for parents

Since many students move in during late summer, it can help to be prepared for heat (and humidity, depending on the local climate). It’s likely going to be hot, especially if the residential dorm does not have central air conditioning and only window units or getting to a top floor requires traipsing up and down several flights of stairs.

Consider bringing a fan to help circulate some air while you get everything settled.

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3. Wear Comfortable Clothing

College move-in day tips for parents

Doing all that heavy lifting is no easy task. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes for the move and bring another outfit to change into later as you tour the campus or grab dinner with your child.

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4. Bring Snacks

College move-in day tips for parents

Bringing water and snacks is generally a good idea too, especially if you are moving furniture and other heavier items. Putting the drinks in a cooler will help keep them cold, especially if the room does not have a refrigerator. Make sure you have enough for the roommate and his/her parents.

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5. Ask About Move-In Tools

College move-in day tips for parents

Determine whether the residence hall has a dolly or other items that you can borrow because they can help make the move easier. Signing up for those items early can help ensure that you can use them the day you move in. Otherwise, you can buy one from a local hardware store or split the costs with a roommate or another friend who is living in the same residence hall.

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6. Find a Move-In Buddy

College move-in day tips for parents

Students who have other friends who are also moving in during the same day might want to consider connecting beforehand so they can help each other move, especially bulky or heavier pieces of furniture.

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7. Avoid Overpacking

College move-in day tips for parents

During the unpacking process, your child might find that he or she brought too many personal belongings, or packed things they either don’t actually need or don’t have room for.

For instance, if the roommate also brought a television and there is not room for two, you could pack yours up and take it home.

Worrying about whether your child has enough necessities like sheets, toothpaste, and food is a parent’s job. You could stock up their mini fridge with some basic items or favorite foods. But there’s likely several stores on or near the campus.

If your student lives near a grocery or drugstore, he/she can buy other items later on or they can have the items delivered to them. Many retailers offer free shipping and stores at college campuses often have special offers suited for students.

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8. Let Your New Student Adjust

College move-in day tips for parents

Move-in day can be emotional, for everyone involved. As hard as it is to say goodbye, try not to hang around too long—let your child adjust to his or her new surroundings, hang out with their new roommate, make new friends in their residence hall, and get ready for their first day as a freshman.

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Considering Private Student Loans

College move-in day tips for parents

Beyond move-in day, financing your child’s education is a large responsibility and can be complicated. While there are some ways to prepare for college, like filling out the FAFSA to apply for federal aid, some families do not receive enough to pay for tuition and room and board entirely.

After exhausting federal aid options, private parent student loans are one way to finance the increasing costs of attending college. Parents can help pay for their son or daughter’s higher education costs by taking out a loan also.

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