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While some say you can't put a price on a good education, there's no disputing the fact that college costs a pretty penny. And while student loans are a convenient way to cover your tuition and expenses, you'll have to pay them back once you've finished school.
To help ease your future debt burden, you might be looking for ways to make money as a college student. If you're seeking jobs that are tailored to the unique needs and lifestyles of college students, here are seven ideas to get your gears turning.
Tutor Other Students
Are you a math whiz? Or a Shakespeare junkie? If you've been crushing a particular subject, put those smarts to work by tutoring your peers. To find clients, you can post flyers around campus, share your information with professors or even pay for Facebook ads.
You can tutor online, too, by joining a platform like Chegg, which says tutors can earn $20 per hour and upwards of $1,000 per month. Similar sites include Skooli, TutorMe and Wyzant. Or you could sell your class notes through StudySoup, where "elite notetakers" earn up to $500 per course.
You don't have to limit yourself to academics, either: You can also teach skills such as playing the guitar or coding. Think about what you have to offer, and start spreading the word. Who knows? You may find that sharing your knowledge is both mentally and financially rewarding. If you'd prefer the flexibility of virtual tutelage, you can teach through Udemy or YouTube.
Work Online as a Freelancer
There's no doubt about it: The freelance economy is booming. In 2019, a stunning 35% of the American workforce said they had freelanced in the past year. So get a jump start on the future of work by building your freelance business now.
Freelancing is great for college students because you can often work wherever and whenever you like. Take a moment to consider which in-demand skills you possess or could learn, such as writing, graphic design, social media marketing, web development, and photo or video editing. Alternatively, if you're more of a jack (or jill!) of all trades, you could also offer your services as a virtual assistant.
To find freelance opportunities, you can try searching on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr—but you'll often find the best-paying gigs through good, old-fashioned networking. Hit up local business owners at in-person events, and ask your family and friends for referrals.
Consider an On-Campus Job
When you received your college's financial aid package, it may have come with a "work-study" option that allowed you to spend a certain amount of hours at an on-campus job.
These work-study jobs come with an array of benefits. Since they're specifically designed for students, they offer flexible hours (and no need to explain why you can't come in over spring break), are a good way to network with friends or faculty, and, if you live on campus, won't require much of a commute.
Think these jobs are only available at the library or dorms? Think again. You could staff the fitness center, give campus tours, cook up food in the dining hall or even referee intramural athletics matches. Be sure to check your school's internal job board to see what's available.
Seek Out Paid Internships
Paid internships were once a rarity, unless you were in a high-dollar field like engineering or computer science. Criticism in recent years has caused many organizations to change their tune—and more than half of internships at for-profit companies are now paid.
If you can find a paid internship in a field that interests you, it can be one of the best ways to make money as a college student. An internship will allow you to test out a potential career, earn valuable connections and references, and gain real-life work experience for your résumé.
When searching for internships, your college's career center should be your first stop. It might have an internship placement service, or at least an online job board, where you can look for fitting opportunities. You can also find internships on Chegg Internships, LinkedIn and Idealist. If you don't see an internship listed at your dream company, reach out to its human resources department—it may be willing to create a role for an ambitious young candidate.
Become a Resident Assistant or Advisor (RA)
If you've already spent a year or two in the dorms, then you're familiar with resident assistants. What you might not be familiar with? How much you could save by becoming an RA.
Compensation for RAs varies greatly depending on the school, and is generally offered as a discount on room and board. Some universities offer a small stipend as well. On Glassdoor, some have reported "earning" anywhere from $1,902 (Indiana University) to $18,879 (Boston University) per year.
While being an RA is a lot of work—imagine being the go-to person for 30+ wide-eyed freshmen—it can also be rewarding. Not only will you be able to nurture a whole slew of young people, but you'll also sharpen your conflict resolution and communication skills. These will undoubtedly serve you in your job hunt (and, TBH, for the rest of your life).
Get Your Gig On
The gig economy is a perfect fit for college students, as it allows you to work how and when you want. Since new apps and platforms are popping up all the time, reflect on what type of work you'd like to do, and then see what's out there. (If an app's not yet on the market, maybe it's your million-dollar idea!)
Here are several gigs that work well for college students:
- Make deliveries for goPuff, TaskRabbit, Postmates, Instacart, Grubhub, DoorDash or Amazon Flex.
- Drive for Uber or Lyft.
- Care for humans or animals on Care.com or Rover.
- Get rid of your old stuff on BookScouter, Decluttr and Poshmark.
- Sell your crafts, art or photos through Etsy, Teespring, Society6 and iStock.
- Offer your insight on website or app design through UserTesting.
- Participate in clinical trials via Just Another Lab Rat or CenterWatch (or just look for flyers around campus).
Head's up: Some of the delivery and driving apps require contractors to be at least 21.
Strut Your Stuff as a Brand Ambassador
Lots of brands want to capture the attention of university students—after all, there are nearly 20 million of them scattered across the country. And one of the best ways to influence those impressionable young minds? Get buy-in from another student.
That's where you come in. Brand ambassadors serve as on-campus representatives who promote a particular company, generating buzz and interest among the student community. Your duties might include hosting events, hanging flyers, handing out free swag or posting on social media. Sometimes you might be hired for a semester or more; other times, you'll just work a single event.
Sounds fun, right? Since brand ambassador jobs are highly local, you can use Indeed or Google's job search function to find opportunities on your campus. After a brief search in my town, I found gigs with Pepsi ($12.50 per hour) and a luxury coffee brand ($21 per hour). You might also want to sign up with recruitment agencies, such as Bigger Markets or ATN Event Staffing.
How to Find the College Job That's Right for You
Although it's extremely difficult to "work your way through school" the way past generations did, making money as a college student is still one of the best ways to fund your education and reduce your future student loan burden.
But which job should you choose? When comparing different opportunities, consider the following:
- Schedule and flexibility: As a student with multiple priorities, you'll need a manager who's willing to work around your schedule. Will you have set hours each week, and how will those hours fit with your classes and extracurriculars? Will you be able to easily take time off during finals or breaks?
- Social atmosphere: Doing research in a quiet laboratory is very different from waiting tables in a busy bar—and one probably appeals to you more than the other. So consider whether you'll be working alone or with others, and whether a certain role would allow you to make friends who share similar interests.
- Pay: How much you'll earn, of course, is one the most important factors. If it's a weekly or monthly stipend, calculate the actual hourly rate. Then tally up what other expenses (such as bus fare) or benefits (such as free meals) you should factor in.
- Skill building and networking: Think about your future here. What skills will you develop, and how will those look on a résumé? Will you have the potential to meet peers and mentors who could further your career?
Whatever your interests are, look for a job that allows you to achieve balance between your studies, your social life and your financial needs. Not only will that serve you during college, but it'll be good practice for once you graduate.