Moving Out of College Dorm Organization Tips

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You plan for moving to college, but many of us forget about moving out of the college dorm at the end of the school year. You will be exhausted from studying for and taking finals and you’re on your own preparing for the move. Whether you’re moving out of the dorm early or on the last day, knowing these moving out of a college dorm organization tips will make that dorm move-out day so much easier and less stressful.

Moving Out of College Dorm Organization Tips

Having a plan is key to moving out of a college dorm in an organized and smooth manner. Think of it as the reverse of the move in process you did eight months earlier. You’ll be tired and distracted from taking finals, but these simple organization tips will make your college move-out much less stressful for you and your parents.

How Do You Move Out of College Dorms?

  1. Plan Ahead
  2. Prepare a Little Every Day During Finals
  3. Check with Dorm Guidelines
  4. Donate Items You Don’t Need
  5. Move Biggest Items Out First
  6. Check Out of the Dorm

Plan Ahead

You planned ahead (and probably had help from your parents) to pack and move to college. This time you’re mostly on your own for preparing for moving out of your college dorm. Realize that you need to plan ahead so that your move-out day isn’t chaotic and stressful. Determine if and plan for:

  • Do you need to get packing boxes?
  • Do you need to coordinate with your parents?
  • Do you have food or personal items you need to use up?
  • Do you need to return any rented items or sell any items?
  • Do you need to inform or coordinate with your dorm?

Pack a Little Every Day

Start a week or two before dorm move-out day. Yes, you have finals to study for  and papers to write, but take 10-15 minutes a day to prepare and pack for move-out day. Use packing as a study break. Doing a little every day will help you identify any problems early enough to take care of them. 

There are some things that can’t be packed until move-out day, like bedding. Take care of preparing and packing everything you can before move-out so that you can take care of the items that must wait to be packed. And remember, a big part of move out day is getting everything out of your room and packed into the car. Packing as much as you can earlier, leaves more time and energy for the actual moving out process. 

Check Your Dorm Guidelines

Find out if your dorm and school have any guidelines or requirements for moving out and dorm checkout. Some schools may require that you move out of the dorm withing a day of your last final. Other schools may require that you be out of the dorm and checkout by a certain time of day. Don’t be surprised or create an unnecessary crisis by not being aware of dorm move-out requirements.

Eliminate Items You Don’t Need

You don’t need to spend time packing items you don’t need. You don’t need to spend money to transport or store items you don’t need. Eliminate unnecessary items to get them out of the way and off of your to-do list.

  • Trash and Recycle – Don’t pack and transport trash just because you’re too lazy to separate it out of your belongings. 
  • Sell Back Books – There’s no reason to carry heavy books home if you don’t need to keep them. Plan time to take them back to the bookstore or mail them to a book resale service.
  • Donate – Many schools have donation drop off points for food, personal care and cleaning items. Ask your dorm RA if there are provisions for donating items during move-out week. If there isn’t already a program, consider setting one up. 

Plan for Cleaning

You may not have been cleaning your dorm room as well as you should have during the year, so you need to plan to clean as a part of moving out of the dorm.

  • You don’t want to pack dirt away with your belongings for the summer. Be sure to wipe things down before you pack them.
  • You will need to clean any equipment or furniture that you’re renting. Specifically, you’ll need to clean out a rented refrigerator.
  • You may need to clean your dorm room. Check your dorm’s requirements.

Use Stackable Boxes and Trash Bags

I have found that bankers boxes with lids are ideal for dorm move out (and dorm move in). The bankers boxes work well because:

  • You can stack them in the corner of your dorm room as you are packing.
  • They’re easy to pack into your car since they stack.
  • You can stack two or three to carry depending on the weight.

The handles of the boxes make them easy to carry. Since they can be unfolded and reassembled when needed, they’re easy to store flat in the dorm room or your home when not in use.

2 white boxes with handles stacked next to a packed clear plastic tub

Sturdy trash bags are an inexpensive and easy way for you to pack prior to your parent’s arrival. If you don’t have boxes in your dorm room for packing and if there’s not time to pack after your parents bring boxes on move out day, then trash bags are a simple solution. They’re particularly useful for packing bundles of clothes on hangers. The bags of clothes are easily placed on top of suitcases and boxes in your car.

Pack Items You Don’t Need First

Start several weeks or days prior to move-out day. Begin by packing items you won’t need in the last few days. You can pre-pack items such as:

  • Heavy Winter Clothes
  • Snow Boots
  • Unneeded Blankets
  • Office Supplies You Won’t Need
  • Text Books You Don’t Need
  • Decorations
  • Dishes You Don’t Need

As you go through your dorm room looking for items to pre-pack, continue to look for items you don’t need to take home with you. Those are items you’ll throw away, recycle, donate or sell back. 

Have Your Parents Bring Extra Boxes or Suitcases

3 suitcases sitting next to a front door

You probably didn’t store enough suitcases or packing boxes in your (much too small) dorm room. Based on how many boxes were needed to move you belongings into the dorm and  how many boxes you have in your room, ask your parents to bring the suitcases and boxes you’ll need to pack up.

Move the Largest Items Out First

If you didn’t use a hand truck for dorm move-in, you’ll want to get one for moving out of the dorm. A collapsible hand truck is not very expensive and really does make the move-out process much easier (and saves Mom’s and Dad’s backs!).

Moving the largest items out first and packing them in the car makes it easier to maximize the space. It’s easier to fit smaller items around the larger items that are already in the car. 

Plan for oddly shaped items or smaller items that will fit into nooks and crannies.

Check out all my Top College Tips for Success

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Dorm Check Out

You’ll be exhausted by the time you get everything moved out and packed into your car. Don’t forget about any move-out requirements. 

Once you’re all moved out and have the car packed, be sure to give your mom and dad a big hug and thanks. 

Do you have any moving out of a college dorm tips that I missed?

See all my tips, ideas, printables and care packages in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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One Comment

  1. I never realized that moving out had to be so soon after finals! That’s a great idea to use packing as a brain break from studying. I also like the tip about remembering to thank mom and dad.

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