Big Ideas & 'Best Of'Transitions

It’s Important to Remember That Move-In Day is NOT About YOU

Today marks the beginning of my 16th year of welcoming college students to campus.

Most campuses I know of seem to have some sort of formal programming and process for welcoming students to campus, helping them to get moved in, and then oriented to their new community, before classes begin.

Most of us went through this process as a first-year student… once upon a time… and it may be that we have forgotten some of the emotions and overwhelming feelings of disorientation that often accompany this time of transition.

And on move-in day specifically, new students and parents are about one thing and one thing only — getting into (and then settled in) their dorm room.

So let me encourage us — each and every one of us — to be about that one thing as well.

If you’ve been invited to help with the new student move-in process, let me encourage you to leave your club, ministry or organizational information behind and simply be about welcoming these new community members to campus.

There will be time and place for recruiting these new students to come and be  a part of what you’re involved with.

This day, however, is not that day.

This day needs to be about THEM.

We all want to make a great first impression — and we can have a hard time not wanting to seize EVERY opportunity, especially this first encounter — but what I fear most of us don’t realize is that to propagandize these fresh (not to mention hot, sweaty, tired and disoriented) families may actually leave them with an unflattering first impression that can be hard to overcome.

SO, as you prepare to help new students move onto campus this year… consider just wearing a name tag (or maybe a t-shirt that represents your club, ministry or organization — if the office in charge of this event deems it appropriate) and GO TO WORK!

New students and families always have the option of asking you about you (or the organization you represent)… so let’s do our best to give them the space to do just that.

What do you think?

> What challenges do you bump up against during this kind of event?
> What rules or regulations does the campus you serve put on this day?
> Do you have any powerful stories from move-in days of the past?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comment section below.


  • Laura Rainwater in Laramie WY

    Thanks for your thoughts. We just helped with move in. The university required all volunteers to wear the same t-shirt and asked us not to recruit. I found that annoying at first but realized that the new students won’t remember much of what I might say, but rather what I and our students did. Blessings as all of us show with our actions one of the most important purposes of campus ministry … care and community.

  • This is what we do each year…focus on THEM!  We wear matching T-Shirts and have bottled water at all of our dorm locations.  It’s hard though, because I’m REALLY wanting to start recruiting since I’ve spent the summer trying to get to know them on Facebook, but the goal is simple…get them moved in!  LOL!  We’re usually finished somewhere around 2pm, then we go back to each dorm and slide info underneath all the freshmen’s room door!