For many of us in student housing, move-in day is the most exciting day of the year. The anticipation of the new academic year, a new place to live, making new friends, and welcoming everyone back to an otherwise quiet building reminds us of why we do this work and how much fun it can be! This year’s move-in presented some unique challenges, forcing us to think critically about how we have moved people in in the past and what might need to change in a post-COVID world. We think that a successful move-in, devoid of any possible nightmares, comes with careful planning and the utilization of established campus partners.
The Magical Month of October
When is the best time to start planning for move-in? October! The experience from August or September is still fresh, your residents are still getting settled in their spaces (and likely happy to give feedback) and things are slowing down from the fall “rush”. Gathering feedback from your team members, volunteers, students, parents, and vendors is an important step in taking a 360-review of how move-in went in order to make intentional plans for next fall. We talk about using data to make decisions, this is the perfect time do so!
As anyone closely involved with move-in can tell you, it takes a village. It takes numerous partnerships across campus with admissions, orientation, new student programs, student affairs, Greek life, athletics and other departments to make a seamless move-in for students. October is a prime time to set up meetings with these key stakeholders and solicit their feedback for their incoming student populations and what they might be looking for next fall for move-in to your facility. This information can help shape what your most integral campus partnerships are looking for, as well as what early arrivals or other expectations might look like, and what the common misconceptions of living in housing might be. Partnerships, such as those that exist on your campus in the service of students, should be quintessential drivers to promote, market and ultimately get students into housing.
Utilizing Your Vendors
Part of planning a successful move in requires careful understanding of limitations that might exist within your team or at your facility. Is parking a challenge? Is weather a consideration? Is there a likelihood of your elevators or other facility-related items being temperamental during move-in weekend? In addition to 3rd party operations managers, there are many different vendors in the turn and move-in business that are there to make our lives easier, especially handling things that we may not want to do or might not be good at. Figuring out what those items are for you, your campus and engaging with them this fall puts your move-in in a good position to get the best pricing prior to the busy spring and summer these vendors typically see. This might include scheduling resources and assigned move-in timeslots via a move-in RSVP process, renting bins and dollies to make moving items into the building easier, or physical labor to move things upstairs to avoid elevator jams.
In conclusion, a careful and well executed move-in comes from a feedback-driven plan that starts 10-11 months in advance. Devoting time to scheduling meetings with key stakeholders and engaging vendors early and often in the process ensures that everyone has a well-managed and well executed move in plan.