Today I was part of Western’s Welcome Team, helping move the freshmen into their dorms. Oh, excuse me — helping move the first year students into their residence halls. It’s an annual tradition at our university, where members of the university community (faculty, staff, student organizations, and even townsfolk) pitch in. I even brought my daughter to join in on the fun.
Here’s the dorm where I worked this morning (scroll down for a picture of a past move-in day at Scott Hall). Here’s an even better view. Yep. Nine stories, two elevators. Lots and lots and lots of stairs.
As I was helping students and parents unload cars and haul stuff up those multiple flights of stairs, I began thinking how I should begin to draw lessons for when my own little first year student heads off to college in another decade or so. So I present my advice to parents and their kids heading off to college for the first time. I realize that it may be too late for many folks this year, since many schools have already started, but maybe we can revisit this at the beginning of next summer. Here goes:
- Choose a college where the dorms are no more than two stories tall.
- In the event this is impossible, choose packing containers carefully — shoot for a happy medium in terms of size: big enough so that there won’t be lots of teeny-weeny boxes to tote and not so big that it’ll be a bear carrying them up several flights of stairs. Also, try to choose containers that are easy to grab onto and hold (handles of one kind or another are nice).
- Label absolutely everything. Buy a bunch of good-sized labels and, using a dark marker, write your son or daughter’s name, the name of his or her dorm, and if you know it, the room number (if you don’t, save room to write it in once you find out). Put the labels in a place that will be easy to see (on top of the container is probably best). In the confusion of everyone moving in, it’s easy for somebody to mistakenly cart an item to the wrong dorm room.
- Ideally, you have some sense of how small your young student’s dorm room is. It’s smaller than he or she thinks it is. Just look at all that stuff. You know it won’t all fit in the dorm room. Tell ‘em leave some of it at home.
- Here’s a rule of thumb: if you filled two vehicles with your kid’s stuff, there’s not enough room for it in the dorm.
- Two words: hand truck (I was really sorry I had forgotten to bring mine to help out this morning).
- Find out who your student’s roommate is and try to coordinate. They won’t need two refrigerators in their dorm room, for instance.
- Check out The official brightMystery back-to-school tech guide. He has some great advice on what you need in terms of tech gear. The laptop is an especially great idea in terms of moving in to and living in the dorms (you should probably buy a Kensington lock, though).
Some of you who read this may have already moved your kids into a dorm. Feel free to share your advice or experiences in the comments.