With less than 300 days until August, now is the perfect time for campus housing staff to strategize about move-in.
By: Dr. Christopher Silva
It’s never too early to start preparing for next fall’s move-in.
That’s a mantra I lived by when serving as the Director of Housing at American University because of how critical it is to get that moment right — along with the moments that come before and after it.
Moving into campus housing is a pivotal moment in a student’s higher education journey and a prime opportunity to create a lasting positive impression that generates excitement and sets up students for success the remainder of the semester.
With less than 300 days until August 1 (yikes!), the time to start thinking about — and improving — fall move-in is now. Below you’ll find three more reasons why now is the time to dive in, along with some points of consideration as you do.
1. Evaluate past move-in processes and build responsive action plans
Improving your move-in process starts by understanding where you currently stand. Take a discerning look at every step of the journey — from engaging and preparing students and families to the actual move-in day to thoughtful follow-up communications. Determine what went well and identify opportunities for meaningful improvement. This is also a prime opportunity to analyze moving data from previous years.
Feedback plays an important role here as well and can help complete your understanding of how move-in actually went. Brief surveys, interviews, and focus groups are great ways to gain insights into student move-in experiences and how those experiences might differ from those of housing staff, other students, and students’ families.
By reflecting, listening, and acting on feedback from internal staff, students, and others, you can build responsive action plans and create a positive move-in experience for everyone.
2. Seamlessly introduce new technology where it will actually count
Move-in day can be stressful for students, families, and staff alike. But it doesn’t have to be. The right technology can help streamline move-in processes — empowering students and freeing up staff.
But we all know getting new technology approved can take time, which is why now is actually the best time to consider and implement solutions so everything is running smoothly and effectively come move-in. Advanced preparation also gives you enough time to truly drive change, such as consolidating and clarifying communications across the various departments involved with the move-in process.
Full Measure’s Campus Moving Experience makes it easy for students to schedule key appointments and move-in times, access relevant resources, and track next steps — all from their smartphones. The solution also helps foster a sense of community and build excitement for the semester ahead by making it easy to engage with students and their families (via text message) before, during, and after the moving process.
And, with a simplified implementation process, it’s a solution you can stand up quickly and begin driving change right away.
3. Allow for time to test new processes
Far too often, campus move-in challenges arise from a lack of planning or testing. Processes changed at the last minute can cause unnecessary confusion (and work against the perceived benefits) and the wrong technology can use up valuable staff time.
That’s why it’s a good idea to test changes ahead of fall move-in. Spring semester is a great opportunity for this as you’ll be working with a lower volume of students moving in and you’ll be able to test systems in real scenarios, such as move-out, giving you a chance to identify and iron out any wrinkles before fall.
Dr. Christopher Silva (he/him/his) has nearly 20 years of experience working at higher education institutions, supporting student learning and activities, guest services, sustainability programs, online/distance education, fraternity/sorority life, and more. Most recently, he served as the Director of Housing at American University where he was responsible for the operations of a residential community of 4,200 residents and $50 million in revenue. He has also worked at the University of Denver, Hamad bin Khalifa University, University of Nebraska, and Utah State University and served on the ACUHOI board as the Director of Business Operations & Practices and the Chair of the Future of Housing Taskforce.
Dr. Silva received his Bachelor's degree from Utah State University (International Studies) and Master's degrees from the University of Nebraska (Counseling/Student Affairs) and Harvard University (Environmental Management). He also holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Denver. He currently serves as the Director of Campus Experiences at Full Measure and, as a native of Brazil who spent most of his life living abroad, calls both the US and Qatar home.