The Freshmen are coming, university move-in day!

It’s the beginning of September and the majority of American colleges and universities have now welcomed the Class of 2019 into their gates or walls or hedges*. The freshmen (or first years) as we call them have moved into their first dorm rooms, said goodbye to their parents and siblings, and had their first meals at their dining halls.

We call this big day Move-In Day. It’s the day when people pull up to campus with boxes and suitcases and plastic bags full of stuff to make their rooms feel like home. On my move-in day, I stuffed our rental car with 5 moving boxes, two suitcases, three plastic drawers, one foldable chair, and bags and bags of everything from bedding to desk organizers. I was a bit embarrassed when I got all my things out if he car and onto the sidewalk, ready to be taken inside. I have to admit, my stuff took up half the sidewalk.

The move-in team bringing belongings into a dorm.

The move-in team bringing belongings into a dorm.

It’s usually the job of kind upperclassmen and women (sophomores=year 2, juniors=year 3, seniors=year 4) who have signed up to come back to campus early to help move all the stuff into the freshman dorm rooms. This group is usually called the Welcome Team or Orientation Committee or [insert school mascot name] Squad. They’ll stand on the campus roads all morning in brightly colored shirts and even brighter smiles waiting to lug the next mini fridge or lamp or huge teddy bear inside.

Bright shirts, brighter smiles on the Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) Welcome Team.

Bright shirts, brighter smiles on the Williams College (Williamstown, Massachusetts) Welcome Team.

The Emotions of Move-In Day

Move-in day brings a huge amount of excitement and joy, but can also bring a lot of fear and anxiety. What’s most important, many freshmen are told, is that “it’s OK not to be OK” for the first few days, weeks, or months on campus.

What Happens After You Move In?

Move-in day is usually then followed by various days of orientation into campus and college life. There will be talks about dorm and party culture, about academic policies, about resources on campus… Maybe even a fun camping trip to push you out of your comfort zone. Orientation is the time when you’ll meet so many new faces and hear so many new names you don’t even have the mental capacity to remember. It’s the time when you’ll learn how to introduce yourself in a meaningful manner in less than 15 seconds. It’s the time when you may make friends that will literally last a lifetime.

And it all leads into your first day of classes, when you’re truly given the freedom to explore things you’ve never been able to before, all with the end-goal of hopefully finding a career you will be happy to dedicate your life to (although mid-career professional changes are becoming more and more common).

A welcome board in a freshman dormitory brings happy vibes.

A welcome board in a freshman dormitory brings happy vibes.

You Only Get One First Day

No matter how many times you come back to campus to set up another dorm room or turn the key to your first off-campus apartment, none of them will feel like the first move-in day. It was the day you got your University or College ID card and lanyard, the day you finally understood where this office building is or that dining hall is, and the day you finally came one step closer to adulthood.


*Move-in day will have happened for all Universities/Colleges on semester systems (two sets of classes per academic year), not necessarily those on quarter systems (three or four sets of classes per academic year).

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