The Ultimate Guide for an App-mazing Campus Move-In

No one likes the hassle of moving in. Who enjoys wrangling dozens of cardboard boxes and ripping through tough layers of masking tape? Imagine lugging heavy boxes back and forth only to realize you’ve forgotten something. And making sure to return the truck that you rented on time? Talk about stress!

Moving in can be a burden for many people, but this is especially true for university students. For first-year students, campus move-in is not only moving into a new home, but also an exciting rite of passage into adulthood. Did you know that an estimated 1.9 million freshman are expected to attend universities across America this fall? That’s a lot of move-in boxes, a lot of families, and a lot of chances for confusion!

Although it’s likely that students will have touched base with their respective universities prior to moving in, providing the ins and outs and setting the right expectations for this freshman rite of passage is essential to creating a positive and memorable experience.

The importance of the traditional college move-in day has also grown culturally. The tech-savvy youth of today are sharing their experiences online via vlogs and social media. Similar to researching product reviews before committing to purchase, students want to see, hear, and feel the university experience before accepting their admission.

In terms of the growing numbers of students moving in, admissions rates have increased exponentially. For example, Ivy League schools accepted a total of 21,856 students in 2018, as opposed to 4,824 students in 2011. With a shocking 500% growth of new students, traditional move-in methods have become outdated and may no longer be efficient enough to handle such a large volume of students. How can a university optimize their move-in experience for such a large growing number of students while still making it feel personal?

A mobile app is an excellent way for universities to provide pertinent instructions before and during move-in. 95% of teens have access to a smartphone and 89% of them are online several times during the day, making a mobile app the most effective route of communication.


A solution for students and parents alike

Mobile not only makes campus move-in a smoother experience for students, but also eases the process for the most important people in their lives… their parents!

Starting college and moving in is not only an important and overwhelming time for students, but can also be a stressful experience for concerned parents. A study conducted at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that students with support networks back home “were more comfortable experiencing a new environment.” Meaning that if parents are onboard with a University, then they will most likely encourage their child to be too, and provide that much-needed support to succeed. A mobile app can give parents peace of mind knowing that information is available to both them and their loved one. With the mobile app downloaded, parents will…

  • Know what resources they have available. Parents want to know the university and area just as much, if not more, than their child. By listing out available resources, parents can stay informed with one of their largest investments. Continue reading for a list of resources an app can provide!
  • Know what and what not to buy for their child. School shopping isn’t always cheap, and providing this information ahead of time can help parents while they budget.
  • Know what is happening the first week. After they’ve flown out of the nest, it’s hard to not want a bird’s-eye view of their younglings. While parents can’t see every single thing that their loved one is doing, they can at least see an overview of all the events happening.


What resources to provide in your app

A strong mobile app is comprised of solid content that answers any potential questions a student (or their parent) may have during move-in. Here are key examples of relevant information to provide:

  • Room Assignments. Outline roommate contact information and make sure to include dormitory maps tomake moving in convenient. Providing relevant floormate assignments allows students tonetwork even before the school year has started.
  • Schedules. Large universities with many incoming students segment their move-in times to avoid traffic and dysfunction. Provide a detailed schedule and outline what groups are moving in at what time to keep students and parents clear of disorder and confusion. You can also use push notifications to make sure everyone is on the same page and send out any last-minute updates!
  • Events. Invite students to housing events, such as door decorating contests, floormate dinners, and other bonding events. Make sure to make use of the photo album feature and tie in social media using Interact.
  • Staff/RA Contacts. Emergencies and last-minute questions are inevitable. Students may need additional assistance while moving in and may need to contact their RA or other on-duty RAs in the building so providing this information on mobile is important.
  • Housing Resources. Include information that students can use before and during their stay. Chances are that while shopping, students will have questions on what to bring and what not to bring. Providing this advice early on can help them avoid unnecessary expenses! You can also include information about mailroom assignments and Welcome Week activities.  
  • Inbox / Messages. Mobile is a faster and more efficient way to relay a message than knocking on each door. Send information, reminders, or even emergency notifications directly to students while they move-in.


A Glance at Move-In with Illinois State University

Here’s a special sneak peek at Illinois State University’s upcoming Move-In app that’s moving on in this Fall.

For the previous year of 2017, Illinois State University saw…

  • 8,870 Guide Sessions meaning students were actively utilizing the app.
  • 72.8 sec Session Duration demontrates that users were reading through guides and absorbing information.
  • 7.5 Days Spent in Guide tells us that students took advantage of the app not just during the time of their move-in, but before and after!


Helpful Tips for Your App

To get the most engagement from your app, it’s not only important to fill it with content but to also properly promote it!

 6-8 weeks prior is the time to blast the guide information to your incoming class. Send the download link through multiple channels such as email and social media, and make sure to include all relevant app download information on your website.


Instead of just having the app as an accessory to the event, make it a core component as the centralized location for information.


During the event, you can even place flyers with QR codes with download instructions for on-the-spot downloads and spice things up with fun activities, such as dorm scavenger hunts.



To learn more about how you can make big moves with an app, click the button below to schedule some time with one of our EDU consultants.