Surviving the Dorm Storm

Every year, I see the same thing. Freshmen and upper classmen with their parents come barreling into dorms across the country and find themselves embroiled in what I have come to know as a Dorm Storm. This is because every parent and student team always come in making the same mistakes and are then thrown into the mix of thousands of other students with the exact same problems, compounding to a raging typhoon of confusion, accidents, and bad parking jobs, leading only to a horrible experience in what should be one of the most exciting times.

Step 1 : Plan ahead, plan early

You should prep yourself about a week before you make the actual move. If this is your first time moving into a dorm, consider taking two weeks. Plan out exactly what you have to do when you get to your dorm. Do you need a loft? Cables for TV or network connections? A chair? A microwave? So many questions, and you need to address them all.

A good first step is to contact your department of residence before getting ready to find out what is provided to you in your room. Depending on the college you go to, you could be looking at a completely decked out room with all the furnishings and equipment you could ever want, or you could be looking at an empty room without air conditioning. Your college’s website may also have information on moving in and tips to make it as easy as possible, so be sure to check out what resources are available there.

Be sure to contact your roommate beforehand if you have one. Even if you do not know them, many universities will give you contact info of your future roomie, and planning with them will keep several problems from occurring. One, it will keep you from bringing things you don’t need, which will help keep what little space you have free of clutter. Two, it tends to make a good first impression and smoothens the transition to being roomies.

Step 2: Avoid The Mid-Morning  Rush

If your university is like any number of other universities out there, then you have a check-in time that is between 9 AM and 5 PM. You might think that the sweet spot would be somewhere in the middle for you to arrive in, but if you were to head in at this time, you’ll find yourself embroiled in traffic jams and bad tempers.

In order to have the best move in experience you will want to shoot to arrive at 9 AM or about 3:30-4PM. The reason being that in when late morning comes rolling around, everyone is going to be arriving. This means traffic jams, filled parking lots, angry shouting, and more than a few emotional breakdowns. A lot of people also assume that you must move in during this time. In reality you have all day to move in, but the hall desk will only be open for these hours, so in order to get the proper paperwork filled and get your keys, you will need to arrive between these times.

Arriving early is most preferable in this case.  You can get a good parking spot, your paperwork done and keys gotten without fighting several dozen other families for an RA/CA to help. If you are travelling a long distance, you may want to consider arriving a day early and staying in a motel for a night. Arriving early also lets you take the day to explore your new campus and the surrounding area.

Arriving late will allow you to circumvent the onslaught as well, though in a different fashion. Arriving later means a few things. One, parking lots will be emptier as most people who got there around noon will have just finished or have gone to eat somewhere.  This also means that the hallways and stairwells will be less active, allowing an easier time moving large pieces of furniture. You will also avoid the harsh mid-August sun and heat. The downsides are that you will probably have a late dinner and may find your CA/RA a little worse for wear.

Step 3: Follow the Rules

When moving into university housing, it can be slightly more complicated than moving into an apartment or house in many ways. We’ve already talked about the arrival date and time for one. These universities are managing the move-in of hundreds to thousands of students at once, and they spend time developing move-in plans because they know what works best. If you arrive before or after the time you are allotted, you are probably going to run into problems with the administration, which will bog your move-in even more.

Another rule to make sure you adhere to is parking. While some parking rules may be more flexible, such as parking in some grassy areas or student lots, there are many that remain in effect. Parking meters still need to be paid for. You still cannot park in fire lanes. Reserved lots are still reserved in most cases. Once again, the universities plan for the amount of students coming in at different times, and part of this is parking, and they know how many they can accommodate at once. Not following these signs and rules can lead to fines and time delay when moving in.

Finally, know the rules of your dorm. You are usually given a student packet or handbook that lists the rules. More than likely, if your college has a website (remember step 1?), the rules will be posted on there. These rules can include what appliances you can have, what the bathroom policy is, how to connect to the school’s network, and so on.  If you think something might be against these rules, ask a CA/RA. That’s what they’re there for.

Step 4: Get Settled First

Be sure to get every box and item into the room before unpacking. This is more of a general rule for moving, but it doesn’t hurt to mention it. Many students find themselves wrapped up in looking around or unpacking that it prolongs the move in process far past what it needs to be.

Introduce yourself to your CA/RA when you first find your room. These people are your initial guides to residence hall living, and are paid to help you. Any problem regarding to dorm life, this is your go to guy or girl. They are generally well versed in university life and can

Step 5: Go Explore

Once you are set up in your room, with your lofted bed, basic cable, and internet connection all well established and you’ve figured out the maze of hallways that make up your dorm, the next step is to take in the larger surroundings. Try to take a walk around the buildings that are on your schedule and get to know where your classes, dining center, and leisure hubs are around campus. The end of this day will probably be the most leisure time you have for the next four years, so enjoy the hell out of it!

 

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4 Comments on "Surviving the Dorm Storm"

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Thomas Frank

@JacobSPenn Got any colleges in mind yet?

Thomas Frank

@StephRWong Luckily my building doesn’t have enough floors to warrant an elevator… still, I’m working move-in next week as an RA, so I get to see all the craziness happen yet again 😉

StephRWong

God moving in the dorm is chaotic. There’s parents and kids and carts everywhere and you have to wait forever for an elevator and the hallways are so narrow you can only fit one cart at a time and the dorms are so small only one person can move in at a time. okay well maybe I’m only describing UCLA but I’m sure it’s no fun for anyone. We do have assigned times and days for move in though. But these tips sound great! Wish I read this when I was a freshman.

JacobSPenn

Great article! Although I am 3-4 years away, I’ll remember this article when the time comes.

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