There are lots of things you are forced to share in college: a teeny tiny living space, a bathroom, and pretty much every place you go on campus that's outside of your residence hall or apartment building. When it comes to sharing with a roommate, then, it's understandable that many students want to keep certain things as their own, as splitting things can often seem like more of a hassle than a benefit.
There are a few things, however, that can actually be smart to share. You can save yourself time, space, money, and energy if you figure out what and how to share with your roommate in a way that is beneficial for both of you. And while the following items can work for most roommates in most situations, consider adding or subtracting items to better meet the needs of your individual roommate dynamics.
A printer and printer paper. Given that most papers, labs, etc., are turned in electronically these days (papers sent via email, presentations given via jump drives), you may not even need a printer and printer paper -- much less two sets of them. In addition to taking up a lot of desk space, a printer and printer paper can often be found in computer labs across campus. If you feel like you need to bring a printer and paper, check with your roommate to make sure he or she doesn't do the same.
A source for playing music. Chances are your roommate and you both have your own music collections on a laptop, iPod or iPad, smartphone, etc. For those Saturday afternoons when you really want to crank it up, however, you can easily share some kind of speaker system. After all, it's practically impossible for you both to be using a speaker for your music at the same time -- which means that you'll only need one for the room.
A mini fridge. Rooms in a campus residence hall or nearby apartment building are notoriously small. And even the smallest of refrigerators takes up a chunk of space. Consequently, having two small fridges in a shared room will make a room feel overly cluttered in a matter of minutes. At the same time, however, you'll want to keep some dorm room basics on hand for quick meals or snacks. Sharing a mini fridge with your roommie might be the smart way to go. If you're concerned that a tiny fridge will be too small for both of you to share, however, consider getting one that's a little larger. Some of the bigger "mini fridges" just might end up providing more space, while taking up less room, than two of the smaller ones combined.
A microwave. This one should be easy to figure out. After all, microwaving a snack or quick meal takes only a few seconds (or minutes, at the absolute most). And if you or your roommate can't wait a minute or two while the other person is using the microwave, you're probably in for a rocky roommate relationship. Consider sharing a microwave in your room or, if you're concerned about space, consider sharing with other students on your floor or even just using the one in the hall kitchen (if that's an option).
Some required books. Some books, like an MLA Handbook or APA Style Guide, can easily be shared. You'll probably only use them sporadically during the semester, so why have both of you spend $15 for the same exact text that neither of you will use very frequently?
Dishes. Sharing dishes can get a little tricky if you or your roommate are messy. But if you apply the if-you-use-it-you-must-wash-it rule, you can easily share some basic dishes. If all else fails, however, consider splitting the cost of a cheap stack of paper plates. That way, you won't worry about a mess, won't worry about breaking anything, and won't take up as much space as a traditional dishware set.
Some sports equipment. If you and your roommate both enjoy a pick-up basketball game or the occasional Ultimate Frisbee match, consider sharing some equipment. This won't work, of course, if either of you play on a team. But if you just want a basketball around for a game now and then, only keeping one in the room can help save space and money.
Basic decorations. Say both you and your roommate want to hang some white decorative string lights around your room. Do both of you really need to bring some? Probably not. Whether you decide before you arrive on campus how to decorate your room or you both go shopping together once you've officially moved in, sharing decorations with your roommate can be a smart way to make your room feel cozy and cohesive without costing a small fortune.