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How to Prepare Your College-Bound Student for a Stress-Free Move

College move-in day can be stressful for students and families, but it doesn't have to be with some preparedness. Start planning today with this advice!

Finally, the day you and your teen have long awaited (maybe even dreaded) is here: college move-in day! This is a major transition in your student’s life, and as a parent, you want to do everything you can to make it as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. We’re here to help you do it! Here are some suggestions to make the upcoming hectic day go smoothly.

Pack well in advance

The word of the day is preparation. If you and your teen take the time and patience to get everything ready well in advance of the big day, you’ll have a quick and easy time loading up the car and unpacking in their new room. Start at the beginning of the summer and do a little bit of organizing or packing up belongings each week. Help your student decide what they’re bringing to college and what should stay home depending on their room size. In addition, as the date gets closer, wash all their clothes and bedding before packing them so a trip to the dorm laundry room is off their long list of tasks the first day. If there’s still anything your teen needs to learn about laundry, go over it with them.

Pack more than you think you’ll need

Eliminate anxiety about being underprepared by bringing a little more than you think you’ll need. Items that run out quickly or students find they lack on move-in day include Command tape and adhesive strips, Command hooks, storage containers, clothes hangers, etc. Consider packing clothing already on hangers to save room and time spent fitting clothes to hangers in the dorm room closet. Anything that doesn’t need to stay when it’s time to say goodbye can go back home with you.

If you’re concerned about the immensity of the task or live far away from the college, consider hiring a moving company—just do your research to employ movers you can trust. Look for companies with a reputation for treating customers fairly and taking good care of cargo. If you are moving by yourselves, bring a dolly or consider calling ahead to see if the college provides carrying carts for student use.

Know all essential move-in day information

Set aside time to go over essential move-in day information with your student so you both know exactly what to do on the big day, including but not limited to:

  • Dorm building and room number
  • Where to check-in and get keys
  • What paperwork you need to fill out
  • The move-in day/Welcome Week schedule
  • Dorm building rules (especially what can’t be brought to campus)

Help your teen document everything they need to know and everything they need to bring. It may be time-consuming, but it’ll save a lot of trouble in the future if there’s anything they forget or any debate between roommates over who owns what.

Related: The Top 6 Things You Should Do on College Move-In Day

Take care of your health

There’s no worse way to go into college move-in day than stressed out, exhausted, and malnourished. You and your student need to take care of your health in addition to your luggage. If your teen’s college is far from home, you may want to book a hotel near the campus the night before the move. This way, you won’t have a long and tiring road trip the same day you have to unload the car. Get at least eight hours of sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat a healthy breakfast on the morning of move-in day. Even if your teen is eager to get moving, this is important to spend time on.

Communicate openly with your student

While it may be difficult to get a teenager on the cusp of adulthood and independence to open up, it’s still essential to try. They may be having mixed emotions about going to college, vacillating between fear and excitement. Encourage them to talk openly about how they feel. With luck, you’ll be able to alleviate some of their anxieties. Ask them what they expect and want from their first few days at college so you two are on the same page. Do regular emotional check-ins over the summer to find out what worries them the most. Bottling up negative feelings may result in unnecessary stress on move-in day.

Related: Top 8 College Topics to Discuss With Your Student Today

Find support

As your student’s world expands, you should also make sure they know you’re not the only one they can reach out to. Ask relatives and other loved ones in advance to keep in touch with your child and see how they’re doing during the first weeks of college. Knowing they have many people in their corner will make moving on easier.

Plant treats

If you think you can pull some fast ones while taking care of everything on move-in day, consider leaving special treats hidden in their clothes, drawers, or pillow for your student to discover in the coming days. Small candies, encouraging notes, and whatever else you know they would enjoy will remind them they’re not alone even after you’ve left campus. And of course, plan to send plenty of care packages in the future!

Related: A Guide to Letting Go: How to Cope When Your Teen Leaves for College

Moving away from home for the first time can be an overwhelming process for both parents and college-bound students. But with some planning, communication, and mutual support, you can work together to make this big move easier on both you and your teen.

Did you know you can ease your fears even more before move-in day by attending parent orientation? Check out our blog on the Top 4 Questions to Ask About Parent College Orientation to learn more!

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About Nancy Zafrani

Nancy Zafrani

Nancy Zafrani is the General Manager of Oz Moving & Storage. A day-one employee of Oz, she has 30 years of experience in the moving industry. As a lifetime New Yorker, she also has lots of experience dealing with small apartments and organizing. Nancy has many interests and hobbies, including painting, hiking, and baking.


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