WALTHAM — Brandeis University freshmen drove onto campus Sunday with their families, cars packed tightly with clothing and extra-long sheets.
They were among the first waves of students who will be moving into the Boston area over the coming weeks and, along with shorter days and cooler evenings, one of the first signs of summer’s waning.
On the Brandeis campus Sunday, upperclassmen, most in yellow-and-blue T-shirts with their names printed on the back, guided humming cars into parking lots, where they waited in an orderly line behind orange traffic cones with signs bearing names of freshman dorms.
The new students pulled up to brick dormitories to find more upperclassmen yelling “Welcome to Brandeis” and helping carry their luggage and microwaves inside.
“It’s crazy, but it’s so much fun,” said Nicole Cardona, a junior studying psychology who helped direct cars in an overflow parking lot, running from window to window. “Honestly, orientation is the thing I look forward to most every year at Brandeis.”
Many more students will continue to haul their laptops and textbooks into dorms and apartments in the coming weeks.
Boston has about 152,000 students in 35 higher-education institutions, according to a 2010 Boston Redevelopment Authority report. The area beyond the city limits has many thousands more, among them Brandeis with its roughly 3,500 undergraduates.
New Emerson students are slated to move into dorms Monday and Tuesday; at Harvard, freshmen move in on Monday. Freshmen at Boston University and Northeastern, the first and second most populous undergraduate institutions in the city respectively, according to the BRA, are scheduled to move in on Labor Day weekend and early the following week.
Most Brandeis freshmen moved into dorms Sunday, with the exception of some early arrivals who had come from abroad or participated in pre-orientation programs.
Freshmen Zunyu “Curtis” He of Nanjing, China, and Alexios Ladikos of Athens moved in Friday and spent the weekend roaming around campus, hanging out in the game room, and ice skating for the first time ever.
Neither had visited the campus before deciding to attend, they said.
“I came here to Boston and visited every campus except here,” Ladikos said. “When I came back to Greece, my uncle, who lives in Chestnut Hill . . . said we might have missed a few.”
Ladikos’s uncle had brought his iPhone to campus and webcast what he saw back to Athens. Ladikos said he liked the virtual tour and enrolled.
Melissa Jurist of Swarthmore, Pa., moved her daughter, Imogen Rosenbluth, into a first-floor single room in Shapiro Hall over the weekend. She said she appreciated the army of yellow-shirted students helping her daughter. “I can spend time with her instead of carrying her giant refrigerator,” she said.
Jurist sat on a lawn outside her daughter’s dorm with her 9-year-old son, Owen Rosenbluth, and the family’s two hounds, Pirate and Lilo. Imogen, who plans to major in comparative literature and religious studies, put some final touches on her dorm room and talked to other freshmen.
Rosenbluth is the first of Jurist’s children to leave home.
“Mostly, I asked my friends who had older kids [how they dealt with it], and then I cried a lot,” Jurist said. “We did obsessive listing, just making lists of everything she’ll need.”
Jurist said her daughter agreed to Skype with her brother so she could keep reading books to him.
“She asked me not to text her every 45 minutes, so I’m not going to do that,” Jurist said.
Adina Forman of Brighton waited for her daughter Malka , to be directed to her dorm. They bought a large box of specially fitted sheets for Malka’s extra-long dorm room bed and stopped at a drugstore on their way to campus so they could print photos of family members and friends that she could hang on her walls.
Brighton is not far, and Forman said she could, in theory, pop in for dinner often. But her daughter, the oldest of five, is relishing her independence.
“She wants to make believe she’s going far away,” Forman said. “ ‘Make believe I’m going to California. If you want to come, you have to give me 24 hours’ notice.’ That’s what she says.”
As parking lots cleared and excitement settled in during the early afternoon, roommates Regina Roberg of Skokie, Ill., and Kristen Foaksman of Swampscott left their new home in Anna Renfield Hall en route to hear a student panel, get their photos taken for university ID cards, and explore campus.
“The anxiety period is slowly transitioning into the excitement period,” Roberg said. “Very slowly.”