College move-in is always a big deal—time for a fresh start and independence! But following a near two-year campus life hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s no doubt the on-campus atmosphere will be different this semester. Most everyone is either restless and off-the-walls excited to get life going again or out-of-their-minds nervous (likely because of the introduction of the Delta variant or the flood of social activities after a long period of isolation). Either way, it’s going to be a busy time, and how we as students feel about it might differ. Whichever side of the situation you’re settled on, there are a few must-do’s when you start to settle in on college move-in day.
1. Have a sit-down with your roommate(s)
If you’re going to be sharing a place with other people, it’s more important than ever to take a moment to debrief. You want to make sure you’re on the same page about who is and isn’t allowed to come and go in your dorm, and you really want to make sure everyone is aware of the precautions you’re taking in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. Who’s vaccinated, who will (or won’t) wear a mask, how many people you’re comfortable having in shared spaces at a time—these are all things you should address. Usually meeting with roommates is centered around assigning chores and designating areas in shared spaces, but for some people, their lives are on the line; if you have an immunocompromised roommate, you’ll need to make a choice to either be cautious for the semester or to request to switch roommates. If you’re concerned about how careful your roommate will be, you’ve got to make a similar choice. Be sure to prioritize safety this year, but don’t forget to cover the following regular roommate meeting topics too:
- Cleaning duties/preferences
- Dividing spaces in the kitchen, bathroom, hallways, etc.
- Designating quiet hour(s)
- Allergies or sensitivities and what to do in an emergency
- Who’s and what’s allowed in shared spaces
2. Take a tour of campus
Even if it’s not your first year on campus, you’re going to want to be prepared to get from class to class and to meals in a timely manner. If you’re a freshman, it’s helpful to get a good look at the campus from the eyes of someone who spends all day showing it off, so take an official tour. If you’re a returning student, conduct a tour yourself to learn where your new classes are and figure out the best paths to get there.
3. Unpack and do it well
This one seems obvious, but I know plenty of people who thought that unpacking half their stuff wouldn’t be a problem. When you only have 10 minutes to get ready in the morning and just 10 more to have yourself seated in a classroom across campus, you’ll regret not putting everything away. You should have a designated space for everything, unpack it early, and be sure all your common-use items are within easy reach to help you establish a routine from the very beginning of the semester.
4. Meet your RA and dorm neighbors
You’re going to be spending a lot of time around your RA and dormmates, so you’ll need to make a good impression. It’s also nice to have friends within close proximity to your room for impromptu hangouts or a shoulder when you need it. With the permission of your roommate(s), propping open your door and saying hello to the people who pass by can help you make a great start with the other students in your building. Even if you’re not the most social person, having what feels like an ally close by is nice.
5. Set yourself up for success
Setting yourself up for success from the beginning of the year will only benefit you in the long run. You know yourself better than I do, so whatever this means for you—do it! If you struggle to drink enough water, set up a bin in your room with an excess of bottles. If you spend too much time on your screen, delete a few apps or set a screen-time limit; maybe place your charger away from your bed so you won’t be tempted to spend your days immersed in the digital world. This isn’t just the time to make great first impressions to your peers; it’s the time to establish new good habits or to ensure you stay on track with your old ones. You’re only going to get busier as the year goes on, so it’s imperative that you start strong.
6. Find out what’s happening on campus
Keep your eyes out for flyers and posters advertising events and talk to other students about what they’re up to. Clubs, parades, and other events are all fun ways to get involved in the campus community. Finding out about as many opportunities as possible then narrowing down the ones that most suit your interests is important. And the sooner, the better—you won’t want to miss out on the first meeting or introductory event, but don’t overexert yourself either. If you stretch yourself too thin, you won’t have much of value to offer, and your health needs to come first.
You’ve got a busy year coming up! Doing whatever you can to prepare yourself for it now is important. While fun, shopping and decorating are really the least important parts of moving in to your dorm or apartment. Making the most of the fresh environment and setting yourself up for a good academic year is the best thing you can do.
More than ever, this year feels like a fresh start for many students. Prepare for the semester with these 8 Tips for Starting the New Year With a Positive Mindset.