End-of-semester checklist

End-of-semester checklist

The last few weeks of spring semester on college campuses are hectic. Your student may drop off the radar while wrapping up classes/taking finals, so when you do make contact it’s important to touch on the most important things.

Often students don’t have much time between their last final exam and when they need to move out of the residence hall. Organization is key! Here are some details they don’t want to forget, and ways for parents to help.

Buttoning up the school year

  • Send one last care package, or pop some cash or a gift card in the mail with a handwritten note of encouragement.
  • Confirm travel arrangements (plane/train/bus reservations, driving itinerary, etc.).
  • Finals is a good time for your student to back up her computer (no one wants to lose a term paper!).
  • Remind your student that it’s essential to read and respond to all emails from the school about end-of-year requirements (returning library materials, paying outstanding fees, etc.).
  • If she’s in a performance or show at the end of the semester that you can’t attend in person, send flowers or a card to wish her well.

Preparing for move-out

Does your student have a plan for storing belongings over the summer? Next year’s dorm or Greek house may have a storage area but space will be limited (and often large items like bikes and mini-fridges are not accepted). Some tips:

  • There’s no point moving or storing stuff you don’t need, so encourage your student to start thinking early about what to keep and what to get rid of. He can approach belongings one category at a time over the course of a week or two: books, papers, clothing and gear, room furnishings, cleaning supplies/toiletries, and so on.
  • He should make a pile of the things he wants over the summer and see if it will fit in his suitcases (if he’s flying) or in the family car. Does he need to ship some boxes? Advise him not to wait till the last minute to do this.
  • Begin the process of selling, donating, recycling and tossing unwanted items early. There should be opportunities on campus — students are pros at “freecycling” — or your student can find a nearby donation center. (Grocery store parking lots may have donation receptacles; try also local charities/religious organizations and thrift stores.) Another student might really want that microwave or mini-fridge!
  • If she has questions about move-out timing and expectations, she can ask her RA. Dorm rooms should be left clean with furniture returned to its original location.

Back at home, if you’ve been using their room for your own storage, shuffle things down to the basement or hold that yard sale before they arrive!

Self-storage tips

College towns typically have companies that specialize in storage for college students. Many offer door-to-door spring pick-up and fall delivery. This is going to be more expensive than self-storage. If a storage facility is the answer, you can offer to help research options online.

  • Can your student save money by sharing a unit with a friend?
  • Book early to get the size unit you need.
  • Your homeowners’ insurance policy should extend to cover stored property — double check.
  • Your student should hunt up some free boxes (not too large) or buy plastic storage bins. Label boxes/containers and create a master list (doesn’t have to be too detailed).
  • Everything going into storage should be clean (bedding, etc.), including all appliances (fridge, microwave, coffee maker). She should never store food.
  • Buy a lock.
For students transitioning from dorm to off-campus housing over the summer:
  • Depending on the lease, students moving from residence halls to off-campus apartments may need to arrange for temporary storage of their items.
  • Students with ample summer storage space can use the last weeks of school as an opportunity to inherit furniture or appliances from graduating seniors.
If you’ll be on hand to help at move-out:

Wear comfy clothes and shoes, and be prepared for dirt and disorganization. Trash bags (big black heavy-duty ones and the smaller 13-gallon white ones) come in handy for, of course, trash but also for transporting items: soft, light things can go in the big bags and clothes on hangers can be bundled into the smaller bags. Boxes, a Sharpie marker, and packing tape will come in handy as will snacks, water, and patience.

Diane Schwemm

Diane Schwemm is a writer and editor at CollegiateParent. She and her husband have three sons in high school and college. In her off hours, she likes to read, hike and garden and, thanks to the influence of her family, appreciates ballet and basketball equally.

1 comment

  1. Great tips
    I have a daughter finishing the first year living outside the campus.
    May I ask about how I can get my daughter move into the campus dorms next year?


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  • I've been through the process twice, and you are so right: it is stressful! However, everything works out for the best. My daughter ended up attending a school she didn't even want to see. In fact, the day we went to visit, she decided to leave the tour early, rather than going to the question and answer session. Well, it was the best four years of her life thus far, and she has made lifetime friends and had many wonderful experiences because of her education there. Thanks for sharing. I always love reading your pieces.