IOWA CITY — It wasn’t more than an hour after pulling up outside the University of Iowa’s Burge Residence Hall early Wednesday that new freshman Olivia Gorzny had transported most of her belongings to her fifth-floor room, checked in with a volunteer and met her roommate.
The 18-year-old from Oregon, Ill., credited her efficiency to the swarms of volunteers buzzing around the UI residence halls pushing carts for moving boxes and bags, carrying clipboards to check in new students and directing traffic as car after car arrived for the first of two official move-in days on campus.
Gorzny said the move in was going so well by 9:30 a.m. that she imagined having plenty of time to unpack before heading out to check out the campus and downtown.
“I’ll probably spend some time decorating,” she said.
Gorzny’s experience Wednesday is among thousands of its kind occurring on college and university campuses across the state this week as many institutions — including UI, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa — start the 2014 fall semester Monday.
Some students planning to live on campus were approved for early move-in and transitioned into residence halls or university apartments over the weekend.
But most residents on the three campuses were assigned move-in times this week. ISU began its general student move-in Tuesday, UI students started moving in Wednesday and UNI student move-in begins Thursday.
New freshmen will fill a majority of the residence halls on the three campuses, but each university also has transfer students and returning students with housing contracts in the dormitories and in apartment communities.
As of this week, UI officials reported more than 6,000 students with housing contracts for its 10 residence halls and three apartment communities. ISU said it had about 12,400 housing contracts for its 19 residence halls and four apartment communities.
And UNI, as of July 31, had a total of 4,423 housing contracts for its eight residence halls.
Heading into Monday at ISU — after several thousand students moved in early over the weekend — about 7,600 student move-ins remained. UI early move-ins totaled about 2,300 by Tuesday, the night before its general student move-in began.
Von Stange, assistant vice president for student life and senior director of UI housing and dining, said the university allowed some students assigned to live in Mayflower Residence Hall — which is under construction for flood-related repairs — to move in early in hopes of easing the anticipated congestion this week.
“Everything has run really smoothly,” Stange said. “If the weather holds off, in terms of temperature and humidity, we will be in good shape.”
Each of the universities coordinated hundreds of volunteers — including administrators — to greet family after family as they arrived in overstuffed vehicles and help them unload, carry bags and find their rooms.
“Moving in can be overwhelming,” said Brittany Rutherford, ISU marketing coordinator. “So when cars pull up, and the move-in crews swarm the vehicle and have carts, families usually are pretty excited to see them.”
After students are settled, all three universities have planned a host of welcoming activities.
The UI On Iowa program for new students begins its core events Friday with college open houses and an introduction to university traditions in Kinnick Stadium. Saturday events include an activity expo and an evening showcase of Iowa City’s cultural offerings at the Mill Restaurant.
Sunday’s wrap up includes convocation on the Pentacrest, followed by a block party at the president’s house on Church Street.
ISU’s welcome experience, titled Destination Iowa State, begins Thursday with a kickoff at Hilton Coliseum and continues into the weekend with a variety of activities and events. UNI’s Welcome Week launches with a picnic Thursday and continues through the weekend, including a first-ever Panther Kick-Off for first-year and transfer students, UNI spokesman Scott Ketelsen said.
“We will bring all the new students to the McLeod Center for a class photo and a 30-minute presentation,” which Ketelsen said will include speeches from President William Ruud and various coaches and deans. “It’s a ‘welcome to UNI, you’re part of the family now’ event.”
UI officials, for the first time, this year made a concerted effort to involve transfer students in its host of activities typically reserved for new freshmen. Of the UI’s more than 1,000 transfer students this semester, about 270 have signed up to participate with a small group in the On Iowa programming, said Kate Sojka, UI director of academic support for new student initiatives.
Other transfer students are invited to participate to a lesser degree on their own — jumping in for just those activities that interest them.
“We recognize that they have college experience under their belts, and we respect that,” Sojka said. “So they can make it more on their own terms.”
All three universities have reported high expectations for this fall’s incoming freshmen and what they could mean for total enrollment. ISU is expecting another record year in total enrollment — it counted 33,241 students last year, setting an institutional record and making it the largest public university in the state for the first time since 1979.
ISU officials this year are expecting “well over 34,000” students.
UI admissions officials, meanwhile, are predicting its largest freshmen class in history. The university last year reported a first-year class of 4,460 and a total enrollment of 31,065, down from its highest ever of 31,498 in 2012.
Although UNI isn’t expecting to break any records this fall, officials said they are projecting growth.