Surviving Your Move Into College

Moving into college is a difficult time. Here are some tips on how to survive it.

Moving to college can be a very stressful time. You have TONS of stuff with you, and the campus is jam-packed with literally thousands of students and their parents, all trying to move in. Parking is a nightmare, and so is navigating the hallways with your stuff. So how do you make it a more pleasant experience?

First of all, if there's any way you can move in earlier than the typical move-in day (usually the Saturday before classes/orientation week starts), take advantage of it. Sometimes, there are special orientations for students who are in the honors program, in a special freshman program, or for students with physical/learning disabilities. Most colleges will tell you about these programs and different move-in days; some even require the early move-in. But if you don't hear anything, and you're in a special program or have special needs, ask the college if you can move in a day or two early.

Regardless of when you're allowed to move in, figure out what time you should be there. Larger colleges will probably assign you a two or three hour window of time in which you're supposed to arrive, so that not everyone comes at the exact same time. If they don't, then try to arrive either towards the early morning times or towards the late afternoon times. It's the mid-day that will be the most crowded. However, sometimes the lunch hour (11:30 - 1:00, or around there) will be less crowded. Ask an upperclassman or call the university directly if you aren't sure.

A few tips for packing your things: pack them in light carriers. Don't use suitcases for your clothes, put them in plastic bags. Suitcases will either have to be stored or taken back home, which will cause more hassle. Put the clothes in plastic bags and you can either store them easily or throw them away. Put any food or cleaning supplies or other items in cardboard boxes. If you're bringing storage boxes (for under the bed, or under a loft), you can pack things in those, too. The idea is to bring as little as possible. Remove larger items from their boxes and transport them separately. This includes refrigerators, microwaves, and even computers. Boxes are often much larger than the actual items, which makes it harder to pack and transport them. Also, you have to deal with the packaging once you arrive.

As far as food goes - if there are particular things you'll want a lot of, like your favorite cereal, you can buy it in bulk and bring it with you. It will be cheaper to buy off campus. You should bring some food with you, especially cereal, crackers, peanut butter, and other "pantry" goods that will keep a long time. Other things that are heavy (like jars of tomato sauce) or that need refrigeration, should be bought once you've arrived on campus.

When you arrive on campus, pick a parking spot as close to your dorm as you can. Go in without any of your stuff and check in. They will give you a key and any security devices you need. You can also sign out a cart to carry your things on (at most schools). Sign one out (have your school ID ready, or your driver's license if you don't have an ID) and take it to your car. If your car is farther away from the entrance you'll use (don't use the main entrance unless it's really the best) and there are spots closer, move your car - it will make a difference.

Load up your cart and take it to the elevator. There will likely be lines. Carry whatever you can over your shoulders, too. The more you can get up in each trip, the fewer trips you'll have to make. If you can, get all the largest items upstairs first, using your cart. Then, if lines at the elevator are REALLY jammed, abandon (return) the cart and carry bags of clothes and things upstairs. If the lines at the elevator really aren't bad, it's probably worth it to keep the cart and load up several bags of clothes at a time to get upstairs. It all depends on what's likely to be faster.

Once all of your things are in your room, then unpack and figure out where everything's going to go. You have everything you need right there (which you might not if you tried to unpack as you unloaded), and you're done with fighting your way through the crowds. Set up your room as best you can; your roommate may move things around later.

Then, if there's anything else you need to get (maybe food), head out to get it. Buy these things off campus (including food, school supplies, etc.) if you possibly can, because they will be much cheaper that way. If you have a lot of money on your meal plan, you can choose to grocery shop on campus, but you'll want to do it another day. Every store and other place on campus will be jam-packed right now. Whatever you do, DON'T try to buy books! Pre-order them if you can, or wait until the weekend's over. Some people even suggest not buying your books until you've been to class the first time, because profs can change their minds, and returning books is far more annoying than waiting to buy them in the first place.

Now, you have survived your move into campus, and can begin exploring your new world!

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