By Sarah Wright
Most colleges prohibit the use of devices like microwaves and open hot plates in individual dorm rooms. In these cases, communal dorm areas are likely to provide microwaves and other cooking and heating implements, making it pretty pointless to bring your own. Even if you are allowed to bring your own microwave, you might not want to do so. You'll probably have easy access to a microwave somewhere in your dorm building, and even the smallest microwaves take up a fair amount of space that you probably won't want to waste.
Desks and desk chairs commonly show up among other, more useful dorm-centered products. These are useless products to buy for two reasons: your room probably already comes with a desk, and if it doesn't, it's probably too small to reasonably accommodate one. Even if your room doesn't come with a desk and is big enough to fit one, aren't there other places on campus that have desks? Why not save the space and money for something that's likely to get more use, like a multi-purpose table or a couch?
3. Bulky Organizers
Dorm supply sellers would love to convince you that you'll need to purchase a lot of additional organizational equipment on top of the storage furniture your school provides. This may be true, but you should wait till you get to campus to figure out what you'll need. A lot of the organizers marketed to college students are bulky and cheaply made, and likely end up taking up more space than they save. Your dorm room is likely to have a dresser and a closet, if not more storage, and you should make the most of those spaces before you buy a cheap cloth hanging organizer that will take up 1/4 of the space in your closet.
4. Toilet Seat Sanitizer
Believe it or not, dorm supply websites often sell some version of a toilet seat sanitizing product. It seems reasonable to be a little freaked out by using gross public toilets, but your dorm bathroom is probably cleaned at least once a day, and your school likely provides 24/7 emergency cleaning services in the event of a bathroom disaster. If you're often unhappy with the cleanliness of the bathroom, you can take the issue up with your RA and the housing staff on campus. The dorm bathroom is your new home bathroom, and even if you're set on disinfecting the seat every time you use it at the beginning of the school year, odds are high that you're going to give up on doing that before long. Save yourself the money and effort and embrace the fact that your dorm bathroom is going to be clean.
5. Expensive Decorations
Your grandmother's one-of-a-kind photograph of Paris in the 1920s may look awesome, but the dorm is no place for something that special. It's not a great idea to bring anything valuable and irreplaceable to college, especially something like a painting or object that isn't going to be put to use for school. Stick with inexpensive posters, and save the fancier stuff for post-dorm life.
If frugality is the name of the game, consider attending one of the cheapest colleges in the U.S..