By Jacqueline Olivo, USMC Daughter

So your kid is soon to be off to college! The next stage of life (and college move in day) is just around the corner – and so is the latest move in a long line of them, I’m sure. This move is a little different, though; so here are some tips and tricks for up-and-coming Freshmen!

5 Easy Steps for a Smooth College Move In Day

STEP ONE: Read your school’s student handbook.

Before you even think about packing, you definitely want to check out the student and res life handbooks that your school might offer. You can typically find these on the resident life page of your university – or they may even send it along with your enrollment papers.

The student handbook can be full of useful information, such as a dorm room floor plan (so you can plan your layout before you even get there), details on painting the walls, and a list of furniture you’re provided with. This handbook will also tell you about your university’s policies regarding appliances such as hot plates, coffee machines, and the like. Make sure you familiarize yourself with what is and is not provided or allowed in your dorm/on-campus apartment before you start back-to-school shopping!

STEP TWO: Make a checklist.

Sit down and start listing out the things you know you’ll need, in a physical, tangible form. It’s definitely challenging to shop for everything the first time around if you keep it all in your head! Again, make sure to check with your school about supplies you’re required to have; for example, some arts degrees might require specific art supplies, or your university might have computer specifications to keep up with your classwork.

To give yourself a good jumping off point, I’d recommend using The College Packing List. Available on iPhone and Android, this app is free and extremely useful. It’s already pre-loaded with a massive list of potentially-needed items, and sorts into Need, Have, and Packed categories, which makes it easy to see what is and is not already in your car! You can also add your own personalized items if they’re not on the list, so you don’t forget that inhaler or retainer last minute. Did I mention it’s free?

STEP THREE: Coordinate with your roommates!

There’s nothing quite like that moment when you meet your roommates in person for the first time on college move in day and realize all four of you brought a microwave. Don’t let that happen to you! Not only should you DEFINITELY chat with your roommate before moving in to make sure you’re compatible as people, but you should coordinate who is bringing what so you don’t end up with duplicates, or without something that you need.

STEP FOUR: Now it’s time to shop.

By now you’re well-informed, and your shopping list is just about complete. You’ve sourced through your university, your roommates, and you’re ready to head to the mall! I know what you’re thinking – off to Walmart, Target, etc. – but there a few more options you might want to consider, especially if your university is a plane-ride away.

Bed, Bath, & Beyond offers a layaway program where you can shop and pick it up at a location convenient to you – wherever your university may be. This can be especially helpful for buying bulky items like rugs that you might not want to drive or ship cross-country!

Also, consider Amazon Prime. Students can get six months of Amazon Prime FREE with their student email – and as we all know, Amazon has some great competitive prices. This is incredibly useful when you’re looking to get your textbooks shipped in time for class!

Lastly, check with your school’s Facebook pages – your university might have a marketplace page run by the students. Upperclassmen will sell their textbooks for cheap, or other incoming students will sell items they don’t have a use for, like the three extra microwaves!

STEP FIVE: Packing the car for college move in day.

By now, packing is probably second nature to you, right? Whether you’re sticking with the good ol’ cardboard boxes or upgrading to plastic bins, make sure to pack smart, with the things you’ll need immediately in the most accessible place. I’d recommend your bed bug spray and bed linens to be some of the first things out of your car. You may also consider investing in a handcart – considering you’ll be moving in and out regularly for the next four years, it definitely pays itself off in all the injuries your back avoids.

College move in day can be pretty hectic, but typically your RA team will be there to make it as smooth as possible. Some universities may give you a move-in window, so make sure you know when you’re supposed to be there! I’d also definitely recommend rearranging the furniture to your liking first thing before you start wheeling in the boxes. Make sure to run a Clorox wipe over everything first too! Some dorms and apartments are used for summer programs, and you want to make sure your room is clean before you start pulling out your stuff. is a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. Help us help each other and submit your reviews today.  Together, we can truly make a difference!

Jacqueline Olivo is the daughter of a Marine and a college senior studying film editing. She enjoys reading, writing, and making movies! Surviving four PCS moves and three years of moving to and from college makes her somewhat of an expert on packing for the dorms. Like most military kids she was born in one state, graduated high school in another and will graduate college in a third!