WALTHAM — The Ford pickup truck with New York license plates was loaded with a mirror, minirefrigerator, microwave, and other necessities of life for a college dorm room.
“What didn’t we pack?” quipped Anthony Arcese Sr., holding a Cuisinart coffeemaker, as he helped his namesake son move into Helen L. DeRoy Hall at Brandeis University in Waltham. “We packed the front seat, the back seat, the cab. Everywhere.”
Brandeis was in the forefront of college students’ annual migration to Greater Boston, which begins in earnest this week. On Sunday, the university welcomed 862 freshmen and transfer students, a sure sign of the end of lazy summer days.
“They are blistering smart,” said Andrew Flagel, senior vice president for students and enrollment at Brandeis, who was doubling Sunday as an orientation volunteer. “They’re the most competitive class we’ve ever admitted.”
The Sunday scene at Brandeis will be repeated on other college campuses throughout the week, as rented trailers and moving vans filled with clothing, books, and comfortable bedding clog streets.
Many students will have to jam all their belongings into half of a small room.
“I’ve packed things that can slide under my bed and be tucked into the closet,” said Michelle Schein, 18, of Longmeadow, as she helped to unload her family’s packed Volvo SUV.
Her mother tried not to interfere with her daughter’s plan. “She knows exactly where she wants everything to go,” said Shari Schein, holding two pillows.
Area colleges and universities are preparing for the arrival of thousands of parents and students during the week.
At Boston University, 3,900 freshmen will start to arrive Monday. In all, nearly 12,000 students will live in campus housing this year, said Colin Riley, a university spokesman.
“By Friday, roughly 6,000 students will be in their residence halls for the fall,” Riley said Sunday. By Labor Day, “we’ll have everybody in our student residences.”
Boston College on Wednesday will have 2,250 freshmen move into residence halls. Upperclassmen are due Thursday and Friday. In all, 85 percent of its 9,000 undergraduates live on campus, which is “the most of any college or university in Boston,” BC spokesman Jack Dunn said.
At Northeastern University, early move-in for students will be Monday and Tuesday. All others will move in stages each day through next Sunday, according to the university’s website. The total number of students living on campus this year was not available on Sunday, said Casey Bayer, a spokesman.
New undergraduate students enrolling at Emerson College will move in Monday and Tuesday, while most returning students won’t arrive until next Sunday and Monday,according to the college website.
‘We packed the front seat, the back seat, the cab. Everywhere.’Anthony Arcese Sr., helping his son move into Brandeis University dorm
At Tufts University, some freshmen arrived as early as last week to take part in a special community service-focused orientation. Other new Tufts students are due to move in on Wednesday, according to the school’s website.
At Brandeis, returning students will trickle back onto campus this week, with classes beginning Friday. The school starts earlier than others to allow time for the school to close for Jewish holidays, Flagel said.
“We have to make sure we get all our class days in,” he explained.
On Sunday, a steady stream of cars, vans, and pickup trucks pulled up to dormitories. The university does not allow larger rented trucks for move-in days, according to orientation staff.
About 100 upperclassmen, outfitted in bright-blue Brandeis orientation T-shirts, volunteered to unload vehicles. Student-athletes sporting gray Brandeis T-shirts also lent some muscle. They hauled refrigerators, trunks, rolled-up rugs, and other large items up several flghts of stairs.
“It’s exhausting work, as you can see,” said Dylan Schlesinger, 21, a senior English major from Miami, during a break between loads. “But it’s so worth it.”
Brandeis set a 5 p.m. deadline for students to settle into their new rooms. A welcoming ceremony with school president Frederick M. Lawrence was to follow. Then it would be time for excited freshmen and anxious parents to say goodbye.
Afterward, weepy parents were invited to attend a reception in their honor.
Wine and Tissues.Kathy McCabe can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.