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We’re sure you all have plenty of questions about move-in day, the most obvious being, “What’s it actually like? What happens once I get to campus? Will I have enough time to unpack everything before the day’s mandatory events? And how in the world will I be able to carry all of my stuff up to my 15th-floor John Jay single without making ten million trips?!?”

Here’s a rough timeline of what the first day of orientation will look like.

Getting to campus

First things first: You need to get yourself and your stuff to campus. To minimize wait time and stress levels, make sure you know where you need to go and when you are expected to move in.

When: It depends on where you’re living. Barnard students, get your assignments here. Columbia students, you should’ve been asked to register for a move-in time when you got your housing assignments. You’ll be able to check what you put on the Housing Portal.

Where: Columbia students will be helped by an OL on College Walk, while Barnard students will meet outside the Barnard gates. Be on the lookout for someone directing traffic, people wearing orientation t-shirts, and a registration table.

Parking might be a bit tricky, as the streets around campus will be closed. Though your car can idle for a short period of time as you’re dropping your stuff off, you cannot park there.

There are a couple of recommendations for parking garages on Columbia’s parking webpage, the most convenient being the one below Riverside Church. For students coming in from train stations and airports, expect car traffic around campus to be chaotic, but manageable.

Our advice? If you can, try and take a taxi or Uber to avoid the hassle of parking—sure, it might cost you an extra dollar or two, but at least you won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot.

Collecting your swag

Once you get to campus, you’ll need to check in. Head to your designated registration table (in Barnard Hall for BC students and outside your dorm building for CU) to receive your CUID/BCID, your room key, your NSOP orientation materials, and some other cool ~swag~. At that time, you should also make sure that anybody who came with you to help you move in receives a visitor sticker to allow them easy access into the residence halls. Don’t worry about doing the wrong thing! There will be plenty of signs, guides, and volunteers around to help you.

Pro tip: If you get to campus early, grab some breakfast outside Hartley and Wallach Halls.

From the streets to the dorm

Now that you have the key to your room, you have two options for moving your stuff. The first is to empty all your dorm objects into a large box on wheels (the OLs welcoming you to campus will help you find them, if they’re not immediately obvious). While there’s usually some wait time for a cart, they make move-in a lot easier than moving your items one at a time.

The other option that eliminates some wait time is to take your luggage up to your room yourself. While this often requires several trips, it eliminates the wait time for a cart and might make the process faster. This option also allows you the ability to take the stairs, which is the best call if you’re living on a lower floor. (The wait time for the elevators is often crazy long.)

Finally stepping foot into your room

The hard part is over. For students in dorms without AC, it’ll feel like a million degrees in your room, so plug in your fan and open the window as soon as possible. We recommend making up your bed first thing (make sure to wipe down those blue mattresses, as dust collects over the summer). That way, even if you don’t completely finish unpacking or decorating by the end of the day, you’ll at least have a nicely made bed to crawl into.

The day's required events

After you say goodbye to your loved ones, make sure to check your NSOP schedule so you know when and where the required events for the day are!

Move-in day can be a hectic, emotional blur. It goes by so quickly that you’re often left reminiscing later in the year. Make sure you take pictures and savor the moment. Come senior year, you’ll be looking back at your first-year move in with fondness (and humor).


Have any questions about move-in day? Ask us here, or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Mariella Evangelista is a Spectrum staff writer and Barnard sophomore. She and her roommates often look back on first-year move-in day as the start of their best year ever. Reach her at 

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