The 5 Things You Need Before Moving to College

Student Wellness
May 19, 2020
Preparing To Strike Out On Your Own Is One Of The First Big Challenges Of College…

Moving out of your home and onto your college’s campus is one of the first major adventures of your college journey. Yet it’s also one of the first times many students face the stressful reality of moving out on their own. Preparing during the spring and summer before your freshman year can make move-in day less stressful and more energizing, so here are the five things you’ll need to do before you move!

What Students Need To Know Before Moving To College

Moving away from home can be a huge mental hurdle for a variety of reasons. From learning how to organize your new space to discovering the joy of microwavable meals, college life is different from living with your family. However, those differences aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and your college living experience will shape how you choose to live after you graduate.

Not only will you be surrounded by new people at college, but more often than not freshmen are paired together with a roommate. The idea of living with someone you’ve never met before can cause some anxiety, but thankfully, there are ways to manage this stress that we’ll discuss later in the article. Like with the logistics involved in moving away from home, the more you prepare to live with a roommate, the easier it will be to adapt to your new living situation.

Above all, you should approach moving away to college with an open mind.

At least for your first year, you shouldn’t set your heart on living in a certain residence hall or with someone who you met at orientation. The vast majority of colleges carefully tailor the freshmen living experience to make your transition from high school to college go more smoothly. It’s in your best interest to “go with the flow” as you move in for the first time, making use of the resources provided to freshmen to solve any problems that arise.

The 5 Things You Should Take Care Of Before Moving Day

The most important thing you can do to prepare for moving to college is to start early; don’t wait until the last minute to start gathering paperwork and contact the housing office. The sooner you’ve taken care of these important pre-moving steps, the more time you’ll have to go shopping for the perfect bedding and decor for your new digs.


Moving into college dorms or residence halls generally involves a fair amount of paperwork. While it may be a pain to initially gather these documents and fill out the proper forms, it’s unavoidable and easier to handle when you’re not crunched for time. Some of the most important bits of paperwork include:

  • Medical forms, such as copies of vaccination records
  • Major declaration forms
  • Enrollment in first semester classes
  • Visa and passport (for international students)

Even once you’re moved into your dorm room, it can be useful to keep copies of these documents in one place. Use either a binder or folder to keep track of all your documents, both personal and college-related. You never know when saving a receipt or copy of your enrollment can solve a problem before it starts!


Your personal documents will consist of a variety of “adult” things, such as your medical insurance and bank cards. Make sure you prepare copies of important documents such as your ID, driver’s license, medical insurance information, documentation for your car and its insurance, and birth certificate too. However, keep the originals of documents like your social security card and birth certificate in a safe place at home!

It’s usually in your best interest to prepare your finances and insurance before you move away to college as well.

An unfortunate amount of companies and banks try to take advantage of freshmen with predatory credit and bank offers. If you don’t already have a personal checking account with a bank, open one while still with your family or other trusted adults who can help guide you through the process; and make sure the bank you start an account with has a branch near your new college!

If you (or your family) feel like you must have a credit card for emergencies, consider a secured credit card; this is a credit card that requires a small deposit, making them a great starter tool for building credit. If you pay off the complete balance every month and only use the card for emergencies, you’ll avoid paying high interest and set yourself up for a future of good credit.


Getting in touch with your roommate is priority number one, once your college lets you know who it is, of course. With a variety of social media at your fingertips, it’s easier than ever to connect with your new roommate! Not only will getting to know your new roomie help ease some of the tension and nerves involved with moving off to college, but you can also coordinate important dorm-related things well before you ever move in.

While you should make an effort to get to know your roomie, set aside time to plan the logistics of your new living situation with them too. There’s no need for you to both lug a microwave and mini-fridge across the country, and coordinating who will bring what will help you both save a lot of money outfitting your dorm room.


While it may seem like a no-brainer to note the details of when and how you’ll be moving, with so many details to keep track of it can be easy to forget to plan for your move. During the summer before your freshman year, make sure you make plans for the following:

  • When is move-in day? Freshmen generally move in sooner than upperclassmen to attend orientation, so make sure you get the right date.
  • How will you be moving to college? Will you pack all your things into the back of your car or will you be taking a plane?
  • Do you have everything lined up for your housing? Is all your paperwork filled out, do you have all your deposits turned in, and does your landlord or housing office have all the documents required from you?
  • Have you met all the requirements for living in the dorms or on off-campus housing? Each institution will have its own set of requirements for each living situation, so double-check with your residential life office to make sure you’re prepared.


It’s extremely easy to overpack for college! Not only will overpacking make getting all your belongings into your dorm room a pain, but you also may not have a happy roommate if you bring too much excess clutter. Stick to bringing the basic essentials, minimal decor that truly speaks to you, and the things you’ll need to destress and take care of yourself.

The majority of college dorms come with all the furniture you’ll need. Your resident life office will have more information regarding any extras (like built-in microwaves, ironing boards, wastebaskets, etc.)

You can’t bring all your belongings either, and there’s often no need to. Remember that you can buy many of the things you’ll need on or around campus if you forget something or choose not to pack a bulky necessity.

A tip for clothing and entertainment: don’t try to bring everything you own. Bring seasonal clothing and a selection of your favorite games, books, or hobbies with you initially. When you visit your family throughout the year, plan to swap clothing and entertainment to cut down on the number of things you keep in your dorm.

Preparing For College Doesn’t Need To Be Stressful

Out of all the changes that college life brings, living on your own for the first time is one of the most impactful. Freshmen can worry themselves sick with extensive “must buy” lists and planning out the perfect move-in day, but there’s no need to do this! If you treat moving to college as just another adventure where it’s okay to make mistakes or forget your toothbrush, you’ll limit how much stress you take on during the moving process.

Remember that you can always reach out to the people who’ve helped you get this far such as your college counselor, who will have plenty of first-hand experience to help you out. There are certain tricks to living in the dorms that only a former student will know, and learning these secrets and talking about dorm life can do wonders for your move-in anxiety. Don’t hesitate to talk to your counselors about what will happen between your acceptance letter and first day of class!

By Preparing Early, You Can Make Freshman Year That Much More Enjoyable!



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