College Move-In Mistakes I Made Freshman Year (and what I learned along the way)


My move-in experience freshman year was nothing short of a disaster.

Everything you’d expect to go wrong moving in, went wrong. I was already nervous about traveling and staying at a new place in a new state three hours from home. The last thing I needed was for move-in to be a train wreck and another reason to be nervous about college.

Since I’m the oldest in my family, I’m the guinea pig. With college, that’s no exception. My parents never had to do a college move-in for one of their children before me. We went in blindly with no experience and no idea how this was going to go.

Luckily, three years have now gone by since that moment as I prepare for move-in for senior year. My family and I have gotten much wiser about college move-in, so much so that I can write an article about it now. I’m telling you my story so your move-in (especially if you’re a freshman who’s reading this) isn’t nearly as much of a nightmare as mine was.

👎 I picked the latest move-in time, thinking we’d have the whole night to move me in.

If you have the chance to pick a move-in time, earlier is always better. As much as mornings suck (especially move-in mornings), it’s better to get an earlier time because it gives you and your family more time to factor in every day human disaster that you just can’t plan for. My mom and I thought that if we picked a later time, we wouldn’t have to rush out early in the morning and we could take our time on the drive up to school. Looking back on it, if we had agreed on an earlier time, we still could have taken our time driving up, but we probably could have avoided a ton of traffic that built up as the day progressed.

👎 We left too late and I got stuck in traffic, which started a chain reaction of terribleness.12395680865_cd6e67f313_z

I go to a school that has 4 other universities in the area. The day I moved in, other people at others schools were moving in too. I didn’t realize that would be an issue when I picked my move-in time. We ended up taking one of the busiest routes to get to my school that cost us a lot of precious time. We got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with other pissed-off college students with their families in tow. I had to call the school to tell them I’d be late so they wouldn’t lock me out.

👎 We arrived too late and missed out on help from our “Minute Movers”.

Like many other universities, my school employs student volunteers that help incoming students with the move-in process. But, in our van stuck in traffic, we learned that they stopped volunteering at a certain hour… and that’s the exact time we arrived at my school – two hours later than we were supposed to. Call it a weird coincidence or call it bad luck, but it really set us up for an unenjoyable move-in experience afterward. When we arrived, the volunteers looked so done it was ridiculous. I don’t blame them, though – it was really hot day at the end of August and after working hard all day, who was I to ask for their help? They basically all had checked out once I arrived, both physically and mentally.

👎 We didn’t use move-in bins because they weren’t available when we got there.

The student volunteers were supposed to be there to help lug everything from the student’s car to a bin that was to be put in an elevator and delivered to the student’s room personally. Everyone else on my floor had gotten that treatment except for me and my family. So, we had to bring up everything ourselves without help. We walked everything up 4 flights of stairs and made a disgusting amount of trips to and from our van to get everything up there in the first place, with no bins and no access to the dorm’s elevator to alleviate at least some of the burden off of our backs.

👎 I brought waaaayyy too much stuff.

Probably the pinnacle of my no good, very bad move-in day was that I simply just brought way too many things that I didn’t even need. A clothing air drying rack, a mini ironing board, heavy sweaters? What was I thinking?! Seriously, it’s not like the weather was changing anytime soon or I was moving to Siberia. I could go home anytime I wanted, and I didn’t need/even use half of the things I bought that Bed Bath and Beyond said were “must-haves” at the time to make it through my first year. So I guess just don’t fall for the gimics and think less, not more. By sophomore year, I cut the things I brought in half and it made a huge difference come move-in time.

👎 I was moving in at the time that people started interacting with each other on the floor.

I’m not going to say this was the #1 reason why I had trouble making friends on my freshman year floor, but it certainly didn’t help. They all got dinner together the first night and I was just kind of left alone. “Hey… You’re going out? Without me? Oh, that’s okay, I’ll just wait until you get back, I guess…” It just felt like missed opportunity after missed opportunity freshman year with me, and it obviously didn’t help my shyness, introverted nature, and low self-esteem. That just started the disconnect I felt that year, both emotionally and physically (since my stuff was still stupidly blocking the doorway).

👎 My parents had to stay overnight somewhere to help me finish the next day.

My room ended up looking really awesome, but it was a struggle to eventually get it to this point.

Even more embarrassing, I had so much stuff that my parents had to come back the next day to help me finish unpacking. All of the other parents were long gone by the following day, so again I couldn’t really connect with people on the floor, not to mention the mountain of useless dorm crap I still had to put away. I quickly got labeled as the girl who was quiet and super attached to her parents, even though that wasn’t really the case, and they never really got to know me well enough to overcome those labels, even though I tried really hard to talk to them and get to know them.

👎 I got really emotional when my parents eventually left.

When we finally finished and the hellish move-in was coming to an end, I of course had to say goodbye to them. They had a long drive ahead of them back to New Jersey, and I didn’t want to keep them any longer than they needed to stay. I broke down in my mother’s arms as we held each other for what seemed like an eternity. She was equally a mess, while my dad and brother kept their composure. I knew I was only going to be there a short time, that college would be a good thing and I should enjoy it while it lasts (I was coming home in three weeks for my cousin’s wedding that I was a part of, anyway), but my family’s leaving left me in such a funk that I didn’t feel good enough to socialize or do much of anything. I was a wreck, while it seemed like everyone else was having fun without me. What was wrong with me?

I wish I could go visit my younger self back in time and tell her that everything would turn out okay.

Because it did, maybe not right away, but eventually. I lived, I learned, I got out there and met some really incredible people. I did more things, tried things I was scared of, enjoyed myself more. I can’t say that my shyness is broken but I’ve learned a few ways to manage it better and embrace my introvertedness as a part of my personality, as a strength and not a weakness.

As for the past two move-ins, I can say they were successful, partially because they picked a time out for me, ironically enough, and partially because I got better at knowing exactly what I needed for school. That all comes with time and experience. I hope my last move-in on Saturday (so sad to say!) goes just as smoothly, just like I hope my final year as an undergrad goes as well. Cheers (and hopefully less tears) to senior year!

Do you have any move-in horror stories? Share them in the comments (and please reassure me that I’m not the only one out there with move-in experiences like this 😂)!


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12 Replies to “College Move-In Mistakes I Made Freshman Year (and what I learned along the way)”

  1. OMG SAME — I brought way too much stuff with my freshman year! It also didn’t help that I lived in a triple so space was even more limited!! But at least we learned how to better prepare ourselves for move-in day in the future, haha! Loved your post! =)


    1. Ahh! I couldn’t even imagine living in a triple!! I’m one of those people that needs to recharge after being social, I don’t know how you’d do that in a triple 😂 Thanks for stopping by and giving this a read!

  2. I could not refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    1. Thanks, that means a lot! 🙂

  3. Loved this post, especially the photo at the end! Thank you so much for joining in with the #chattybees chat tonight!
    You can find me at

    1. Aww, thank you so much for reading! The #chattybees chat was so fun, can’t wait for next week! 🙂

  4. Loved this post!

    Luckily my older brother was the guinea pig for me so he paved the path!

    Lots of love,
    Francesca xx

    1. Thanks!! So glad you liked it 😂 You’re definitely lucky that your brother’s older than you in situations like these. Hopefully my brother’s freshman year move-in (when the time comes) is nothing like this!

  5. This is good to know! I will have a college freshman soon and we will be doing this same thing! I can’t lie though, I hope he will get emotional when we leave!!! 🙂

    1. So exciting! Seriously, plan and pack EVERYTHING ahead of time and save you and your family the stress! I felt bad because of the strain it put on my dad. Best of luck to your up-and-coming freshman! 🙂

  6. Aww man, that doesn’t sound like it was fun at all! I’m also the oldest in my family, and the “guinea pig” as well–I had to move to America all by myself and live without my family for the first time when I was barely 17…so my start to college was pretty traumatizing as well. Of course, I got over it, and I loved my college—but in the years since, my parents have let all of my other siblings wait till 18 or 19 to start college, what a coincidence…

    1. Yeah, doesn’t it suck?! I couldn’t even imagine being in a new country by myself! But, I’m glad everything worked out for you. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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