Student Life

What NOT to Buy When Dorm Shopping

ulooplogoThis article is brought to you by Uloop, a leading college news and college classifieds resource for off-campus student housing, study abroad opportunities, jobs and internships, college roommates and sublets, tutors and scholarships, student travel, and local services for college students.

By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop

When your student is going off to college and is going to be living in a dorm, it’s easy to go overboard when dorm shopping for items they’ll need. Even if the school sends out a list of items or you pick up a list of College Must-Haves from Bed, Bath & Beyond or the like, your student does not actually need all those things for college — and many of the listed objects will end up going unused or be returned.

With that in mind, here’s what not to buy when dorm shopping with your student.

A printer

While students used to need to come to school with their own printer as they needed to print out papers and other course materials, there is a decreased need in this day and age as many assignments and papers are now completely paperless as they are submitted online or via email. Plus, if your student did have to print something, there are usually computer labs or printing facilities on campus that offer free printing to students (though the page count may be restricted) or printing for a nominal fee.

By not buying a printer for your student, you’ll save a nice amount of money right off the bat and your student won’t get stuck replacing used ink cartridges while at school. Lastly, since dorm rooms have limited space, a printer would take up room on your student’s desk or under it and just end up collecting dust as it goes unused.

Excessive school supplies

Since a lot of coursework is done on laptops and then turned in online, there is less of a need for school supplies. Your student will need some pencils, pens, notebooks, and a good calculator, but other class-specific supplies may vary and can always be bought as your student is told they need them.

If your student is going to be taking notes on their laptop, they also won’t need to buy a notebook for each class as they’ll largely be left blank. Additionally, room in their dorm is limited so buying a binder and other items for each class your student is going to take will end up using up most of their desk space and crowding their part of the dorm.

Restricted items

Some colleges restrict certain items from the dorms, so rushing out and buying them while dorm shopping will only ensure you have to go back and make returns. Things like mini-fridges, hot plates, coffee makers, microwaves, toasters, and electric tea kettles may not be allowed in the dorms, so have your student research what items are banned and which are permissible. It’s not worth your time and money to purchase stuff your student won’t be able to use.


Your student or you may think they need to bring a TV to school to have in their dorm but it’s very unnecessary. Most dorms have a common room or two that has a TV students can use. Further, with various streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc., your student can pretty much watch whatever TV shows they want on their laptop in their room anyway.

If your student really is set on having their own TV, get them a small-ish one or consider giving them a hand-me-down; if they can wait until Thanksgiving time, you may be able to get a really good deal on a TV too, which will save you some money.

Big items

Dorms are usually fairly small and your student will be sharing the space with at least one other student so buying big items while dorm shopping is a no-no. Things like bookshelves, large storage containers, etc., will be hard to fit into the dorm room (if they even will fit) and eat up space.

A great way to create some more storage space is to invest in bed risers that will make the bed higher so more things can fit underneath. Not all beds have the right legs to fit into standard bed risers so consider moving your student into their dorm room and looking at the bed before going out and buying risers.


Before you even start going dorm shopping with your student, they should touch base with their future roommate or roommates to see what other people will be bringing or to coordinate who wants to buy what. Showing up with a mini-fridge, rug, fan, cleaning supplies, etc., only to find your student’s roommate brought those things also will result in returns for one or both parents as there’s no need for multiples, nor is there space in a dorm room.

Additionally, the college might supply certain room items (such as a desk and desk chair or air conditioning in the room) so your child should look up what will come with the room so they don’t bring unnecessary stuff.

Keep these items in mind when dorm shopping so you don’t end up buying things for your student that you’ll need to end up returning!

Visit for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, college roommates, tutors, study abroad opportunities, online courses, textbooks, roommates, jobs and internships for college students, and more.

Father's Day Cake DeliveryRecent Articles

Get our newsletter

Email Submitted

Weekly Tips to Help Your Student Succeed