NORMAL — Move-in days are upon us at Illinois State University and life will be easier for all concerned by following a few recommendations, say those involved in the annual invasion.
For Bloomington-Normal residents, it means generally avoiding the areas around the residence halls for the next week, especially the two busiest days, Wednesday and Thursday. That's when about 60 percent of the more than 6,000 residence hall residents will be moving in.
For parents or others dropping off students, it means arriving during their scheduled move-in times, following directions, asking questions and being patient, suggests Natalie Alexander, assistant director of student development.
For both, it means being aware of temporary traffic pattern changes and street closures in effect Monday through Friday of this week.
Parents should follow the driving directions sent by ISU. “Don't follow your GPS,” said Alexander.
North Street will be one-way east from School Street to Fell Avenue; Fell Avenue will be one-way south from Mulberry Street to College Avenue and from North Street to Beaufort (only move-in traffic allowed). Fell Avenue will be closed to all traffic between College Avenue and North Street.
You get the idea.
“My goal is to make move-in an event that they'll remember the rest of their lives in a positive way,” said Alexander. “It's really a community effort” involving people on and off campus.
More than 300 students and staff will help students moving in. Wheeled carts can be checked out to carry items from vehicle to room. There's even a video link on University Housing Services' move-in web page on how to load a cart. Go to https://housing.ilstu.edu, and click on “Move-In” to find the link and other move-in advice.
Alexander will be among those helping with move-in day. She likes meeting parents and students and hands out cards with her contact information should they have questions later. If she doesn't know the answer, Alexander said, she will get them to someone who does.
But don't call for every little thing.
“One of the things I tell parents is … to let their students be an adult. Let them solve their problems,” said Alexander.
Resident assistants, the students who live on each floor of the residence halls, have advice for parents and students, too — and not just about move-in day.
“Don't panic,” said sophomore Brighton Coe of Bloomington, a first-year RA. “You'll be able to see your students really soon after you drop them off.”
That's particularly true for parents and students who follow the advice not to bring everything at once. Bring essentials now; bring more Labor Day weekend. Forget winter clothes until later.
And, for students, don't go home every weekend.
Junior Miranda Bejda of Naperville, starting her second year as an RA, said a lot of her friends who went home every weekend didn't have as many friends on campus.
“People are going to find the balance of what works for them,” another second-year RA, junior Sarah McQuaid of Farmer City, said about trips home.
Her older sister attended college first, which gave her some idea of what to expect, but McQuaid said, “I could have missed out on a lot of things” by focusing only on her sister's experiences.
“Don't let your expectations get in the way of a wonderful reality,” said McQuaid.
Siblings aren't the only potential sources of information.
“Don't be afraid to reach out to older students that you know,” said Bejda. “It's not like high school” where freshmen didn't speak to juniors or seniors — and vice versa.
Coe said he is looking forward to “making an impact with people and making sure they know all the resources ISU has to offer.
In addition to helping residents find resources they need, RAs often mediate roommate disputes.
“Getting people to talk through their problems is harder than you'd think it would be,” said McQuaid.