To be honest, I didn’t know much going into my freshman college move in day. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos but that was about it… I had no idea what I was getting in to. I wish I had known more + prepared myself a little better.

Perhaps your in a similar position as well. Move in day is the weirdest feeling. Packing up all your stuff + then settling down somewhere you’ve never been while your family leaves you…it’s definitely an adjustment. But I want to be as helpful as I can for you + give you a picture of what move in day is like, plus some tips to make it easier.

Disclaimer: I know COVID will definitely change things for move in day… + maybe it already has for you. I totally wish I knew more going in as well + could provide you with more information along those lines. But we are all walking into the unknown with this one. Hopefully most of these tips will still be applicable for you.

Here’s more about my situation so you can get a better glimpse of where I’m coming from: I go to a small private Christian university a little over an hour from my house. Last year, I lived on campus + had 2 room mates (not communal style living). I’ve NEVER moved in my life. I am the first born of my family. I’ve never had to share a bedroom in my life. I’m fairly close with my family. I went off to college only knowing a few acquaintances so pretty much no friends– if you can relate to some of these, then I’m sure this can help you out 🙂

Preparing For The Move

The whole experience is pretty surreal. You probably don’t feel prepared at all. You can’t believe it’s finally here. You’re probably questioning what you’re getting yourself into. Yet you’re excited + ready for some more independence + for the adventure. It’s a ton of mixed feelings + honestly it’ll be like this the first couple of weeks. 

In packing up you’ll quickly notice how college stuff is everywhere, maybe it’s piling up in you room or your using another area of the house to store it, but it is a lot of stuff. It doesn’t feel real. It never does. And once everything is loaded in to the car + you’re off, it just feels like another vacation you’re going to. But no, this is your college move in day. You’ve been imagining this day for years. You’ve been preparing for this day for so long.

The nerves will settle in once you reach campus + all your fears + questions will arise. What will the room be like? How will my room mate be? What did I leave at home? Is this actually happening?


Seeing your dorm for the first time is strange because it’s all empty + sad looking. Once you start bringing everything up in placing it is when everything feels real… like this is your permanent home… you will be living here. Moving in doesn’t take as long as you think because of parents helping you out + it’s fairly easy finding a place for everything– mainly because you’ve planned everything out from your Pinterest boards + have a pretty clear idea of how you want it.


  • Be sure to let your parents help. They want to help.  You will have plenty of time to rearrange things + find a system that works for you once they’re gone, but these are some of the last moments you’ll spend with them. It can be a high-stress time + full of lots of emotions, but try to keep it as peaceful as possible + let them help you out. 
  • There’s definitely no best way to unpack… just start placing stuff where it goes. Maybe work on the bigger items first + the things that need to be assembled. But also, getting the bed done not only feels accomplishing, but it makes the room look better + give you a place to set stuff on. Try to stay organized + work on one bin at a time, instead of opening everything up. Or work on one room/area at a time. But it really depends on how you packed everything up. 
  • Have a ‘to buy list’ as you go along so you can jot down things you need to buy afterwards. The worst thing would be thinking of something you need + then forgetting to buy it. 


With your family, it’s definitely a situation you’ve never encountered before, especially if you’re the first kid of your family to go off to college. But remember: you’re not the only one who is going through a big change. Your family will have to deal with your absence. If we’re being honest, it’s probably harder for them than it is for you. 

  • Try to do as much as you can with them before they go… walk around campus, get food, go to the store, drive around the city, etc. For me, my parents stayed overnight because there were other family events the next day + I really appreciated it, although I don’t know how much of an option it is this year. But make the most of your last moments with them + do something memorable or fun.

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest parts. It honestly feels like a scene from a movie. This part is different for everyone. Some are more emotional, others aren’t as close with their family. For some, they see their family drive away + it’s dramatic. Others, they just leave + they don’t even cry.

Personally, I did not cry. It was sad seeing them drive away, but I was busy with events + other activities that I was able to distract myself + not think too much about emotions. It wasn’t until the second time my parents dropped me off (after a break) that I was super emotional watching them leave + say bye… probably because I knew what I was getting into + didn’t have too much to distract myself with. 

But I cannot emphasize this enough: Everyone responds to saying goodbye differently. It’s important that you don’t go into it with any expectations. Just let it happen. It is hard for most people, and that’s completely fine. Allow yourself to listen to your feelings + give yourself the space you need.

Meeting Your Room Mate For The First Time

Meeting your room mate(s) for the first time looks different for everyone. Some arrive before their room mates. Others arrive after. Some know their room mates well + have talked a lot, while some may have never met before so this ranges for everyone.

It is slightly awkward if you have never met before… suddenly being introduced to the person you’re going to be having sleepovers with every night. But hopefully they’re nice + easy-going + that you already know a bit about them from texting them. But first impressions aren’t everything. Don’t let that worry you or create assumptions for the rest of the year. You have so much time + memories a head for the both of you. And you will both grow so much from college.

The first couple of days are full of getting to know you questions + learning, but it’s all a part of making new friends. It may take being a bit more outgoing + talkative + being intentional about doing things, but it is worth it. All that hard work pays off in the end + you’ll pretty much forget about all the small talk + awkwardness down the road.

For more advice on room mates, check out my post: Guide to All Things College Room Mates

What To Do After

You get to the point where your parents have left + you may or may not have a room mate with you. It can get kinda lonely. You can get stuck with your thoughts. If you need the time to decompress + process, do that. But if you need the distraction or something fun to do, then go ahead with that. It ultimately depends on your personality + emotions.

Finish off you move in day with something fun with your room mate or other people you know or meet some new people. You have finished unpacking + are officially moved into college– congrats!! Grab food, watch a movie, walk around campus, hang out, drive around your city, etc. Don’t just stay stuck in your dorm not doing anything. You could even go around introducing yourself to your neighbors in your dorm (in a safe way). 

I hope your college move in day goes well for you!

But if I’m being honest, it is never perfect + doesn’t usually go as planned. You may be running late or forget something you need, have some awkwardness with your room mate or get into an argument with your parents. But please trust God through the process + soak in every moment of it. You only move in as a freshman once. And for some of you, this may be the only time you live on campus. Go into it open with whatever happens + I’m sure you’ll be just fine.

Hopefully my experience + tips could give you some insight into what it’s like + even make it a little easier for you. But please don’t put any expectations on what move in day is supposed to be like, whether it’s based off of me or your friends or social media. You will have your own experience + your own story to tell… maybe even some things you’ve learned along the way to help others + that is amazing!

And as always, if you have any tips or a story from your own move in day, I would love to hear it so it can help others as well. So please comment it down below!

Until next time…

<3 Ainsley


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