College Move-In Day for Parents

By Julia Califano · August 03, 2023 · 7 minute read

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College Move-In Day for Parents

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 also 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. Fortunately, there are several things you can do ahead of time over the summer that can help ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible.

Preparing for the Big Day

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.

Getting Familiar with Dorm Room Rules

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.

Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

Coordinating with Your Roommate

Recommend that your child contact their 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 TVs or bean bags.

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.

Packing with Purpose

Packing for college can be a frustrating task, but one way to expedite the chore is to have your child label all the containers and boxes so you know what’s already packed and can easily find things once you arrive. 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.

Also 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 child 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 they are attending college in a warmer climate, consider packing more t-shirts and shorts and leave some of the sweatshirts and wool sweaters at home.

Recommended: College Planning Guide for Parents

Planning Travel Arrangements

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 an SUV or a moving van if the university is within driving distance and 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.

💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

What to Expect on Move-In Day

While going to college is really exciting for your child 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.

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 space 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.

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.

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.

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 their 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.

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.

During the unpacking process, your child might find that they 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 no room for two, you could pack yours up and take it home.

While you may be concerned about whether your child has enough necessities like sheets, toothpaste, and food, there are likely several stores on or near the campus.

If your student lives near a grocery or drugstore, they 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.

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 their 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.

💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

When we say no fees we mean it.
No origination fees, late fees, & insufficient fund
fees when you take out a student loan with SoFi.

Considering SoFi Private Student Loans

As you gear up for move-in day, you may have other concerns, including how you’re going to cover the cost of your child’s education. 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, you might want to explore the option of private student loans. You can be the cosigner of your child’s application for a private student loan. You also have the option of taking out a private parent student loan. Just keep in mind that private student loans don’t offer the same protections, like government-sponsored forgiveness programs, that come with federal student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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