When I started at UCSB back in 2008, tuition was $9,077. Now when the bill comes in the mail its nearly three thousand dollars more at $11,713. I’m willing to bet my financial aid check that your school is instituting some sort of tuition or fee increase as well which means we all have a little less to spend on electronics this school year. After reading an article on TechnoBuffalo about what gadgets to get for the dorm I thought I’d throw my two cents in the mix. I was a Resident Assistant (RA) for two years and have seen hundreds of dorm room setups – some simple, some Irie, some cutie, some greeked out, some disgusting – but all packed with electronics!

Laptop – Buy! I know that colleges attempt to provide external computers to their students, but with more resources and courses being offered online a laptop is a must-have. You don’t need to break the bank in the process, though. When it’s all said and done you really don’t need a MacBook Pro — sorry! Here’s a slideshow looking at five quality laptops for under $750.

Television – Nah! Online TV and movie sites,  such as Hulu and Netflix are pulling significant business from standard TV.  Instead of spending your cash on a TV, consider buying an external monitor. Now you can harness the power of working on two screens while still providing yourself with a large enough screen to view your favorite shows.  Hey, you never know, maybe your roommate has a massive HD Television for the room – jackpot!

External Hard Drive – Depends… External hard drives are becoming quite affordable and you won’t regret purchasing one. However, there are other options out there for backing up and storing your files. Explore cloud storage as a chord free alternative to external hard drives.  I personally save all my papers to my dropbox,which I can access from any computer or smartphone. If you’re looking to save your music collection in the cloud, then I highly recommend Amazon’s cloud drive.  For $20/year Amazon provides you with 20GB of storage – that’s 4,000 songs (other options offered).

Headphones – Without a Doubt! Headphones are great for a variety of reasons:

1. They let you listen to your favorite tunes on the go.
2. They give you a reason to ignore some people on your walk to and from class.
3. They allow you to turn a chattering library into a smooth melodic tune.

The real question is do you go earbuds or a beastly set of over-ear headphones! If you’re a casual listener actively hitting the gym then I would say earbuds. On the other hand, if you find yourself constantly playing your favorite jams on your laptop I would splurge for a nice set of over-ear headphones – you wont regret the decision! Use this headphone comparison to find and compare headphone options.

Printer – No Way! Want to know where my printer currently resides? Under my bed collecting dust! If your school is anything like mine then your library or student center has printers at the ready. If you decide to go with an online storage service then accessing your papers for printing is as easy as logging in and pressing print! However, if you’re not tech savvy or you find yourself finishing papers in the early, early morning then at least get yourself an all-in-one printer. You can be the cool friend with a scanner-printer combo.

Smartphone – Yes! Please! Smartphones provide a wealth of functionality and with thousands of apps on both the Android Market and iTunes you’re sure to find something you like. I’m actually considering ditching my laptop and just using my Motorola Atrix and a Bluetooth keyboard for note taking. Another great cloud service to consider is Evernote for all your note taking needs. Also, if you’re  thinking about buying a camera, I would hold off… especially if your smartphone rocks an 8 megapixel camera. At the end of the day who isn’t going to benefit from having GPS in their pocket?

Tablet Computers – Questionable! Tablet computers are the wave of the future, but currently there just isn’t enough demand to force any revolutionary app development.  HP just started selling their TouchPad at BestBuy for $99.00 – the MSRP is $499.00. Bold moves such as this are going to accelerate the integration process, but you’re still better off waiting. If you do have the extra dollar bills for a tablet I recommend the iPad – its the standard for a reason!

Well, there’s some food for thought! If you have any other tips please share in the comment section.

And one last piece of advice… before buying any piece of electronics always ask yourself, “What am I going to use this for?” Electronics are shiny and trendy, so keep your guard up!

Kyle Espinola is a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara, studying Economics and Mathematics. He is a business development intern at FindTheBest and head blogger for the UCSB career service blog. Find him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter at @ksespinola.