It’s that time again: time to head back to school. Whether you’re an incoming freshman moving into the dorms or an upper-classmen sharing an apartment with friends, planning ahead for your move can make the process that much easier. From packing tips to suggestions for setting up your space, here are seven expert college move-in tips for students.
When prepping for your college move-in day, the more organized you can be, the better. Organization doesn’t just apply to unpacking and arranging your apartment or dorm, however, it starts when you begin packing boxes at your home.
Don’t just toss items into random boxes. Combine similar items in the same box: pack books in one box and school supplies in another. Pack electronics together with the appropriate cords and cables. Also, make sure to label all of your boxes and note where you pack important items so you don’t have to open every box to find the specific item you’re looking for. “Label each box with your name, the room the box goes to, and a brief description of the contents,” explain experts at Abba & Sons Moving.” Mark items you’ll need right away once you move with ‘unpack first,’ and mark only truly fragile items with ‘fragile.”
Save Money on Boxes
Moving costs can add up quickly, so why not save a few bucks where you can? One of the easiest ways to save is to find used boxes for free or a discounted price. Check your local grocery or warehouse store, the bookstore and even coffee shops. Also, take a look on websites like Craigslist, many people are willing to give away their boxes for free or next to nothing after their move.
What do you need for your college move-in? What do you already have? What are your roommates bringing? These are all important questions that will prevent overspending and eliminate the hassle of moving unnecessary items. If you’re moving into a dorm, you will have the basics like a desk, dresser and bed. Your school should give you a move-in guide and check stores like Bed Bath & Beyond which provide a dorm-essentials checklist. You will need to bring your own linen, and you may want some additional furniture or lighting. You may also need a mini fridge and/or microwave.
Before you splurge on dorm decor, ask your roommate what he or she is bringing. “Discuss what you will be bringing to the dorm room and what your roommate will bring,” Suzanne Shaffer from TeenLife recommends. “This avoids any duplication of the larger items like a mini-fridge, microwave or television. These first few conversations help you get to know the person which alleviates awkwardness on move-in day.”
If you’re moving to an off-campus apartment, you will need to bring your own furniture and kitchen supplies like dishes, utensils and cookware. Your roommates may already have some of these things, so make sure to coordinate. For anything you need to buy, look for in-store and online discounts and check Craigslist and secondhand stores.
Wait to Go the The Store
Once you’ve taken inventory and figured out the essentials, you may actually want to wait to go to the store for any additional items. This way, you can see how much space you have, grab any items you forgot, and divvy up the costs of shared items with your roommates.
Make sure to bring your student ID card and ask about any student discounts. Many stores will offer discounts for college students, but it may not be advertised; it never hurts to ask!
Set-Up Your Space
Whether you’re living with perfect strangers or your best buds, you need to talk about each of your living preferences. First of all, determine how to organize and maximize your space. Especially in a dorm room, you have limited space to work with; the average dorm is about 96 square feet. Can you put your desks together to create an established workspace, or bunk your beds to create more floor space? You can also buy shelving and plastic containers to create additional storage space. Decide on a layout for your room or apartment. If it’s not working after a couple of months, you and your roommates can decide on a new plan.
Remember that you may have different personalities living together under one roof. One roommate may be more outgoing, or you may be a morning person while your roommates are night owls. You need to communicate to learn each other’s personalities and preferences. “Let your roommate know as soon as you can about your little quirks and preferences,” ThoughtCo recommends. “It’s not fair to expect him or her to pick up on them right away, and communicating what you need is one of the best ways to eliminate problems before they become problems.”
It’s a long school year, you will likely have some minor disagreements. Open the lines of communication early so you can keep the peace and put out fires before they start.
If you’re living in a dorm, your housing packet should come with information on Internet and WiFi for your room. Be sure to check this ahead of time to find out if you need to bring your own wireless router.
If you’re living at an off-campus apartment, however, you will have to do some research. Determine the local utility companies and Internet Service Providers (ISP). Set-up your router in a neutral location so you can maximize Internet speed and use it for all your devices. You and your roommates should contact utility companies prior to moving in so you can make sure you’ll have running water and electricity on move-in day.
You should also discuss how much everyone is willing to pay and which services you need or can do without. If you want more than a basic cable TV package, for example, your bill will increase accordingly.
Be Smart Online
Whether you’ve set up your own connection or you’re using the dorm WiFi, you should take the necessary precautions to protect your personal information and digital identity. First, change the default password. Not only will this make it easier for you and your roommates to remember, if you choose a strong password that combines numbers, letters and special characters, your network will be that much more secure.
You should also set up Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on your email, bank accounts and any other online accounts that contain sensitive information or financial data. Two-Factor Authentication requires another piece of information, like an access code or security question, to access your accounts. You can set this up on web applications and on mobile apps. It’s a great idea when you’ll be using your devices in close proximity to others or over public WiFi (in class, in the library, etc.)
Now that the unpacking is done and you’ve set up your electronics and entertainment center, have some fun with your roommates! Listen to some of your favorite songs, stream some of your favorite movies and TV shows or head out on the town and explore the area. You’ve got a long year ahead of you so get settled in quickly so you can set yourself up for success and enjoy the school year.
Guest Author Bio: Maile Timon is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, education, business, real estate, how to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in Southern California.