Parent to Parent: Housing/Move-in Advice
It’s that time of year again, when parents of new students begin to think about the transition to college. Al Friedman, parent of Sam 06F and Rachel F09, compiled lots of advice from his and his kids’ experiences and from other families who’ve contributed to this discussion before. This week, comments on housing/move-in are posted below. Additional information from the College is italicized.
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Incoming students should have their mailbox number; they keep that number throughout their time at Hampshire. When they check-in, they will get the combination to their mailbox, which will contain a notice if there is a large package. Everything should be sent to that box number, and the College starts accepting new student mail on August 15.
Here is the format for your student’s address:
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002
You can find students box numbers in the Directory >>
As you can imagine, it is pandemonium during the first few days and there is no guarantee that your kid will be able to pick up all his/her packages immediately. Hampshire recommends that students not ship anything that they will need during the first day.
If you or your student are having things shipped, say from Fedex or UPS, the shippers will need to understand it is not a PO Box, but rather a college address: it is a “box” in number only. I have had that issue arise, but when I explained, it was not a problem.
Room assignments are released in mid-August; students will be able to view their dorm information on TheHub
The Residential Life Office is pretty firm about their specified check-in date – the only exception is for students who live far away (they told me “West of the Mississippi”). If you do live far away, you can request an earlier move-in date. Without that approval, your kid cannot get a key to the dorm room or mod bedroom before the first check-in date.
Students should contact the Housing Office as soon as possible to get more information.
Check-in takes place in the gym, and then there are a bunch of super-helpful volunteers with carts for moving into Merrill and Dakin. They were mostly in the Franklin Patterson Parking lot, which is located just west of the Merrill/Dakin housing office, and also in the lot between Dakin and the Yiddish Book Center.
Submitting health forms, ID photos, and completing billing obligations before move-in will make check-in faster.
When you purchase bedding, make sure that it is for a Twin XL size mattress, which is 6-7 inches longer than a regular twin mattress. One easy option is to buy a, “Dorm in a Bag” or “Dorm in a Box” matching set, which typically includes a comforter, mattress pad, flat and fitted sheets, pillow and pillowcase, and towels.
Our son had a quilted comforter and a thin fleece blanket, and he found those to be sufficient for most conditions.
A ‘dust ruffle’, flag, piece of cloth or even a large shawl will hide the clutter under the bed, and adds some color.
The bed frame is adjustable to several different heights; there is a 30-inch difference between the lowest and highest level.
There is at least 2.5 feet of clearance at the highest level, if you are willing to jump up/down to get into/out of bed. Changing heights is a two-person job and involves turning the frame upside down. You have to kick down simultaneously on both ends to pop the frame off the horizontal pegs. You then need to set the frame ends on the set of pegs that you select, flip the bed over, and kick down to lock the new level in.
Beds lofted to the highest level can be “climbed” into using the ladder on the side of the bed. In doubles, beds can be “bunked” and students should call facilities to have them “bunk” their beds.
In my opinion, the mattresses are hard – your kid may benefit from a foam mattress ‘topper’ that will go between the mattress and the mattress cover. There are inexpensive egg-crate toppers, but we bought a 2″ memory-foam topper that our son really liked. The only problem is that between lifting the bed to its highest level and then adding a mattress topper, I felt that one needed a running start to hop up onto the bed!
Single dorm rooms are typically about 9ft by 11ft, and are supplied with a dresser, mirror, divided closet, bed, modular desk unit, chair, and a recycling bin.
There isn’t a heck of a lot of room left after all the furniture is in there. We foolishly bought a 4′ x 6′ rug for the floor before ever seeing the dorm room, and it was too big. Check out the room before you buy a rug.
The desk unit consists of a wide board that rests on a set of 3 drawers on one side, and a 2-shelf bookcase on the other. Another 2-shelf bookcase goes on top of the desk. This modular unit is nice because it allows for a variety of different arrangements, for example you could put the second bookcase on top of the dresser, or you could support the desk surface on the two bookshelves and use the 3-drawer unit as a nightstand.
We took the bookcase that was on top of the desk and laid it down, under the bed. Books that are for infrequent reference can go there. It opens up the desk space and makes the room feel more spacious.
There is only one chair, which makes it hard to socialize in the room, particularly if the bed is at the highest level. You might want a collapsible chair for visitors.
Dakin closets have a tall, narrow ‘ski storage’ section, which is great if you are storing skis, but if not, it can be a difficult space to use well (approximately 14″ wide x 24″ deep x 84″ high – they vary).
Our son stacked several milk cartons on their sides, which worked OK, but weren’t quite deep enough. We bought a set of plastic drawers that fit just about exactly, and I would recommend getting something like that.
We bought two large plastic storage boxes on casters that fit underneath the high-clearance bed and held lots of stuff like winter clothing and other odds and ends. At the end of the year, we pulled the casters off and the boxes were a handy way to carry things out.
The rooms do not have enough lighting. Students definitely need a desk lamp and I would recommend a floor lamp as well.
A fan is a necessity, as it gets darned hot in September and May.
Check out the official list of what to bring.
A little cube refrigerator is a nice luxury. They cost about $100, but you can rent them for about $50/year. We are going to go the rental route, because our son discovered that he no longer needed the refrigerator after his first year, when he moved into a mod (with a full kitchen).
Avoid what look like good deals on electronic coolers that only cool the interior to about 20-25 degrees cooler than the surrounding air. Very efficient, but when it goes over 80 degrees outside, you better not drink the milk that was inside. I was fooled into thinking that these are the traditional cube refrigerators, but they are not. When buying a refrigerator, make sure that it does not state, ‘no compressor’, ‘Cooler’ (instead of refrigerator), ‘solid state’ or ‘cools to 20-25 degrees below air temperature’. It was all there on the box of the cube ‘cooler’ that we bought, but I was not careful enough to notice.
Refrigerators should not exceed 3.0 cubic feet.
Students are told that they cannot use nails or tacks to put posters or pictures on the walls. We originally got some of that poster putty, but it tends not to work that well. Another parent told us about 3M ‘Command Strips’, which seem to work really well at holding up posters or lightweight picture frames, provided you follow directions (including cleaning the surface with alcohol first). You can buy Command strips that come with hooks too.
It is clear that lots of kids do use nails or tacks, but they risk being charged for patching the walls. Our son claims that you can get away with using pins or brads to hang things, but we did get charged about $20 last year for patching his mod lounge walls (I’m assuming that was $20 x 6 students in the mod). We saw a lot of dorm rooms with strings of lights that were held up with nails.
Pushpins are better than nails as they are less likely to leave a hole that will result in a bill. For more on charges, see the general guidelines for student damages.
There are washers and dryers in the basement of the dorms, and they are free (well, we already paid for them, didn’t we?). We have never considered using the advertised laundry service – it sure seems expensive to me!
If students leave their clothes in a machine and go away, they may find them in a pile when they return. Laundry detergents are available in the bookstore, at Atkins Farm, or at stores in the Hadley Mall. Atkins Farm sells other ‘green’ products so I would assume that they have unscented soap/detergent.
Since most students do their laundry during weekend days, it can be tough to find an open machine during those times. Washing machines and dryers were replaced last summer so are new and very energy efficient. In addition, students can check a website to see which machines are available at any given moment and also can sign up for the machine to send a text to the student when the washing or drying cycle is completed!
Students are allowed to store two large boxes in a campus storage area over the summer. That took care of a lot of our son’s stuff, but it isn’t enough. Some students live nearby and take everything with them, not needing to use their 2-box allocation – sometimes you can get one or two of those students to store your boxes under their name. This ‘distributed’ method might work, but can get complicated! I believe our son has recovered everything he owned each fall, except for a couple of items he inadvisedly loaned out.
Hampshire states in the storage policy: “All items are stored at your own risk. Storage areas are in basements of buildings and are subject to moisture.” None of the “mods” have storage space located within the apartment itself any more. Each of the housing areas for the mods has a designated external space for storage (according to the restrictions noted above), in some cases quite a distance across campus.
I would highly recommend a rental storage locker as a good way to store stuff over the summer. If a few kids get a storage unit together, it will only cost each of them $60 to $80 for the whole summer. Stuff it in Hadley is one of the best. I reserved my daughter’s unit in February. The staff are friendly and very helpful and the price is reasonable. Contact info: 222 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035, 413-586-5120.
A list of summer storage suggestions is available on the Housing website.