About 6,000 new students will flock to the communities near UCF this weekend with parents and trailers in tow, lugging suitcases up stairs with hopeful and frazzled expressions on their faces.

However, some students chose to avoid the chaos and move in during the fall early move-in hours on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Early move-in, while open to all students, is geared for residents attending the Aug. 17 and 18 orientation, and students participating in marching band, theatre, sorority recruitment and the LEAD Scholars retreat.

“We really only advertise it as available to the students that are coming for special events so the programs know when we are available to check their students in,” said Meredith Lively Varner, assistant director in Housing and Residence Life.

Varner said during the week before the regular move-in dates, theatre majors have auditions and the Panhellenic community has recruitment, so it is mandatory for students participating in activities like these to move in early.

Legal studies freshman Riley Clark moved into the Hercules Community during early move-in to participate in the LEAD Scholars retreat and beat the crowds.

“It seems like 55,555 billion people are moving in on the nineteenth and twentieth, so it will definitely be more relaxed,” Clark said. “Plus I can find my way around and adjust.”

Since there is not a registration process for early move-in, students reported directly to their campus community on Sunday morning to sign-up. All of the communities on the main campus including Apollo, Libra, Hercules, Nike, Lake Claire and the Towers, as well as the apartments at the Rosen campus, are available for early move-in.

“Approximately 800 to 900 students come to the early move-in hours each year,” said Sarah Oleksy, assistant director in Housing and Residence Life. “Which includes all of the communities throughout the whole campus.”

Housing and Residence Life has tried several different systems over the years, but has decided that a less complicated process works best.

“We’ve done different permutations of it, like having people sign-up beforehand or having lists and all of that,” Varner said. “We find that, generally, since we are able to have those rooms ready, we can accommodate for special programs early.”

An early move-in fee of $125 is billed to the student’s university account after they arrive, but can be dropped if the student helps other residents move in. To waive the early move-in charge, students can volunteer for two four-hour shifts during the regular move-in dates on Aug. 19 and 20.

“A decent amount of students sign up for the volunteer shifts to waive the fee, even though it is a fairly new program,” Oleksy said. “Usually about 100 volunteers sign up, but we are always trying to make the program grow each year.”

For Clark’s family, it was worth the fee to have the time to settle in and adjust.

“We were going to wait till the next day to save some money, but when we thought about it, my parents would be missing work on Monday, which would probably lose more money than $125,” Clark said. “And a less hectic move in day is definitely worth it.”

Like most freshmen students, Clark anticipated a mix of emotions during the move-in process.

“I’m expecting a feeling of freedom, yet anxiety to be constantly present while moving in everything, and definitely a few tears from my parents,” she said. “Well, my mom, at least.”

For more information on fall early move-in or housing and residence life, call 407-823-4663 or visit http://www.housing.ucf.edu.

Source: Central Florida Future, Early move-in draws a large crowd, by Chelsea St. John, contributing writer. Published: Sunday, August 14, 2011; Updated: Sunday, August 14, 2011 18:08