College Move In Tips from Real Parents
Dormify Team

College Move In Tips from Real Parents

College move in day is *this close* and at this point, you're probably feeling a mix of excitement and nerves ... and maybe even a little anxiety, too. After all, the transition from living at home as a high schooler to living on your own as a college student is major. Luckily, we have an amazing community of students and parents who've been there, done that and can share all the insider knowledge on how to make the first big step—moving into your dorm—as easy and painless as possible. Below, we've gathered more than 30 practical tips from real parents (and a few students, too!) that will help you create move-in day magic.

Packing for College

"They don’t need as much as you think they do. Under bed storage was handy." —Amy N.

"Keep clothes on hangers and put garbage bags over them and use the pull ties. Easier to carry and move in. Less is better." —Sara T.

"Unwrap and unbox everything into tote bags organized by area—office supplies, closet stuff, bathroom, etc. Move-in was twice as fast this year." —Lisa W.

"Save receipts! A lot of what you bought for move-in will be returned." —Melissa C.

"Command strips and hooks, tool set, surge protector, extension cord and scissors." —Shanna S.

"From a college student: Don’t bring more than you need. I brought entirely too much the first time. There is no need to bring every item of clothing or every pair of shoes you own." —Madison N.

"Build anything that needs to be built at home! It’s too small, hot and chaotic at the dorm/apartment." —Kelly L.

"Pack things you won’t realize you need until you get there, like extra 3M Command Strips for hanging things on the walls. Bring extra extension cords and power strips, a small tool box. Get a hanging organizer. My daughter put her plates, cups, food, etc in each spot. Gives so much extra storage space. She had a Keurig, too." —Laura A.

"Leave room for all the 'free' t-shirts you will get your freshman year! You only need to bring a few because you will get a ton!" —Anna G.

"Pack cleaning supplies and take them in first!" —Karen M.

"Label everything with name, dorm, room." —Tara W.

"Bring tissues 😭." —Jennifer S.

Moving Into the Dorms

"Get a lot of rest the day before! And have plenty of patience." —Jill M.

"Bring a flatbed rolling cart! I bought one from Amazon and it was the best decision ever! Also pack a bag with snacks and beverages. It’s a long day and stopping to go get food wastes time." —Catina B.

"Put fans or AC on immediately before doing anything. Bring lunch and snacks. Do not wait to go find lunch because everyone will be hangry!" —Amy G.

"Don’t move in at the same time as your roommate." —Renee S.

"Bring water and snacks. That way you can take a break and feed that teen without having to leave the building." —Michelle W.

"Rolling cart, toilet paper, water. Enjoy your time." —Cheryl S.

"Take some tools. You may need to adjust the bed.
Take a wagon or hand truck or both. Anything with wheels will help. Put a luggage tag on it in case it gets separated from you.
Get some large totes for packing and moving. They can be folded up and stored to use again later.
Take water bottles.
Put your student's name and room number on the boxes and bags in case they get separated from you. Hopefully someone will return them." —Lisa C.

"My mom brought a wagon. That saved our lives (and backs) when moving in!" —Reagan P.

"Bring a dolly and box everything up according to area. Makes for easy unpacking." —Anna M.

"After this week, would say tool belt, so you always know where things are. I can't tell you how many times we lost the scissors, Phillips screwdriver, and measuring tape ... and PATIENCE." —Angel B.

Setting Up the Dorm Room

"Put the gel mattress topper on as soon as you get in the room so it has several hours to ‘settle’ before making the bed. Leave a card and small gift in their top desk drawer as a surprise. And stay all day—work for hours and hours until it’s all done and they have everything they need. You will be exhausted but they will never forget it and you will have peace of mind knowing that they’re all set." —Gretchen D.

"Let them do it on their own. Their independence starts here and it’s their space." —Carla G.

"Wish I would’ve waited a day or two to see how everyone else was decorating their dorm to buy everything I wanted. Saw so many cute ideas in my friends' dorms that I wish I could’ve incorporated." —Grace R.

"Take pics of every inch of the dorm room when you arrive before you unpack! Keep them on your phone, as your child could be charged for damages and you will have proof!" —Marni A.

Saying Goodbye

"Make the goodbye quick IN their room. Don’t make them walk you out only for them to have to turn around and walk back inside alone. It’s hard on parents to watch their kid walk away. Say your goodbyes in their room! Otherwise, bring extra Kleenex." —Katie T.

"Leave them a handwritten card or note of encouragement in their room, saying how proud you are of them, that you are there to support them and of course, how much you LOVE them! Follow up with a care package from home in a few weeks with their favorite baked goods or candy and throw some cash in, too 😉." —Diane P.

"Stay and help them with their first steps—buying class books. My mom left in tears and I had to do all of that with my roommate's mom! I don’t think my mom knew I was upset about it." —Hillary H.

"Start early so you can make a quick getaway and still enjoy the day. Lol." —John M.

"Know that you’ll cry. A lot. Don’t wear mascara." —Yvonne C.

Not sure where to start with dorm shopping? Our Dorm Essentials collection is filled with top-rated, must-have products to help you stay organized, save space, and feel comfortable in your new dorm. P.S. Our Dorm Checklist is also super handy to reference as you start packing!