Preparing for College: What You Need to Know About Move-In Weekend

As you’re preparing for college, you may wonder what to expect from your first day and week on campus. The experience is unlike any other you may have had so far. Four years ago, I got my initial taste of college life when I arrived at my new home, Azusa Pacific University. My dad’s truck was filled to the brim, and I thought there was no way all my stuff would fit into a dorm room. Deep down, I wondered whether I was going to fit in: Was I cut out for college life? I quickly discovered that the first day and week of college are designed to allay those fears, getting you excited and prepared for the journey ahead. Here are some things to expect.

Building a Sense of Community

When you arrive on campus before your first day of college, it’s natural to have questions about finding your place in the community. Resist the impulse to hide in your dorm room, because the events your college hosts during the first days are designed to help you make connections and learn the ropes. For example, at APU, undergraduate students transition into college life during Welcome Weekend with the support of an Alpha Group—a core group of new students led by a sophomore who guides them during their first semester of college. The first week is filled with information, as well as fun and meaningful events for students and their families, like Candela, a time of prayer and anticipation for the year to come. A carnival-style festival is a perfect place to spend time with the new friends you’ve been making. In my freshman hall, my resident advisor (RA), as well as the other RAs, did a great job creating events to facilitate community and a sense of belonging. It gave us opportunities to interact with each other and enabled me to cultivate closer relationships with those in my residence hall.

Getting to Know Your New Roommate

For those who choose to live on campus, an important part of preparing for college is understanding what it means to live with someone new. Maybe you’ve never shared a room before or don’t have siblings, or perhaps living with others is something you’re used to. Either way, your roommate will be a major part of your first year of college, so take the time to build a meaningful relationship with them. The first night together in your dorm room can sometimes be awkward, but it can also be an opportunity to bond with one another. When I met my roommate, I felt nervous and not sure I was ready to share a dorm, but I was also excited and expectant. On our first night in our new home, we bonded in a surprising way when my roommate discovered a massive spider on her wall while getting into bed. What ensued were several long minutes of screaming, running around our room, and eventually laughing hysterically. This was the first of many funny and special moments with my roommate.

Saying Goodbye to Your Family

Whether you’re attending college close to home, or far away from what’s familiar, saying goodbye to your family is a major transition you may want to prepare yourself for. You’re not the only person who may be struggling with the change; lean on your new roommate, friends, and campus leaders, who will be your support system as you navigate life away from home. The day I said goodbye to my parents was tough, and I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me. One of our last experiences together as a family was praying over my first year and the college experience as a whole, a significant moment of knowing my parents were supporting me and excited for the journey I was stepping into.

The Journey Is Just Beginning

Your first week at school is all about preparing for college, but it’s also just the beginning of a new experience. The nervousness and excitement will give way to brand-new adventures from which you will grow and learn. Enjoy this time of transition by trying as many new things as you can—join a club, consider a study away program, or get involved in a mission trip. You never know when or how you may discover an interest or passion that will shape your future.