The Best Ways To Make Money In College

As tuition and room and board costs continue to climb, college students are looking for more ways to earn money. Some need to pay their own way through school while others want to build their savings accounts before they graduate.

But not every job is created equal. Some only pay minimum wage and require long hours, affecting your grades and social life. Others are desk jobs that allow plenty of time for studying. At Funding U we see value in all types of work experience, from summer babysitting to an internship on Wall Street.  Gaining skills in time management, money management, and work life balance will help you hit the ground running in your new career after graduation.

Before you sign up to do psych experiments or donate plasma for money, take a look at this list for more ideas.  

Jobs and Internships in Your Field

Getting a paid internship in your field of interest is one of the best ways to make money. Unfortunately, some internships may not pay as much as other jobs. Sometimes you only get a small stipend. Think of it as an investment in your future and your ability to earn more money later on.

Having a few internships in the field will make it easier to get your first post-grad job. If you have to decide between a low-paying internship or a better-paying unrelated job, go with the former. 

You can find these jobs and internships at on-campus job fairs, work placement offices or through job sites like Indeed.com. If you know professors with experience in the industry, you can ask them for ideas, referrals and recommendations.

You can also apply to be a Teaching Assistant (TA), which would look good on your resume and make money. This may be a good idea if you’re applying to grad school in that field and want to stand out.

Double dipping: jobs that let you study

Sometimes you get lucky and find a job that doesn’t interfere with your schoolwork. There are on-campus and off-campus jobs that let you study and make money at the same time.

Work-Study

Work-study jobs are only available if you have financial need. To qualify, you and your parents have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Work-study jobs are often available on a first-come, first-serve basis so you should complete the FAFSA as soon as it’s available.

Work-study jobs can include anything from working in a college library, being an assistant to an administrator or working for a private company associated with the university.

Tutoring

If you’re good at a certain subject, you can make extra money by tutoring other students. You can advertise on social media or post notices in the department bulletin board. Word-of-mouth is crucial for finding new clients. If you do a good job, students will refer you to other people who need help.

You can also tutor high school students in certain subjects or provide test prep for the SAT and ACT. If you’re already babysitting, you can offer homework help and tutoring on the side as an extra bonus. As the COVID-19 pandemic affects school schedules, many parents are looking for tutors to help their kids with e-learning. Advertise your services on neighborhood Facebook groups or NextDoor.com.

“I babysat for professors’ kids all through college,” says Carolyn Marsh, freelance financial writer. “Some semesters I had regular sitting schedules but I would often just pick up evening or weekend hours. Plus you can study after the kids are in bed.”

Security/Front Desk jobs

Many dorms have a front desk area where students can pick up packages and put in maintenance requests for their rooms.

“My front desk job paid $10 an hour, when the minimum wage was only $7.25,” said freelance writer and financial coach Zina Kumok of Conscious Coins. “I could study while I was there, so it didn’t interfere with my homework. The money I made from that job helped pay for my study abroad trip to London.”

Computer Lab Monitor

If you’re tech-savvy, you can work as a computer lab monitor and help students with basic computer questions. Freelance writer Kat Tretina of Freelance Writer Academy worked as a lab assistant in the communications building to help pay for her textbooks.

“It paid minimum wage, but most shifts were very slow, so I could write my papers and study at work, and get paid for it,” she said.

Pet/House Sitting

Working as a pet sitter or house sitter may be one of the best jobs you can have in college. You can work on your own schedule. If you have exams coming up, you can put a pause on jobs or work more during breaks.

You can find house sitting jobs through neighborhood Facebook groups, NextDoor.com, word-of-mouth referrals or sites like Care.com. If you know a professor or friend’s parents who are going out of town, you can offer to walk their dog, water their plants and pick up their mail.

Other Jobs

Waiting Tables/Bartending

Personal finance journalist Dori Zinn worked as a waitress throughout high school and college. She said she earned between $50 and $500 a night and worked between three to five days a week.

“It paid for my car insurance, phone bill, any meals not on campus and grocery shopping,” she said.

A downside to waiting tables and bartending is that you’re often working while your friends are out having fun. Plus, the amount you earn depends on when you work. Zinn said her earnings fluctuated so much because she was dependent on the tourist season.

If you’re a waiter, you can always pick up extra shifts when you have more time or need the money. If you graduate without a job lined up, you can sign up for more hours to supplement your income.

Working as an RA

Being a Resident Advisor (RA) can be one of the hardest jobs on campus. You have to break up parties, deal with helicopter parents and console homesick freshmen. But it also usually comes with free housing.

Personal finance blogger Miranda Marquit worked as an RA her junior and senior years of college.

“I received free housing during those times, plus a stipend,” she said. “I think the stipend was about $500 per month.”

Entrepreneurship

Starting your own business may be more lucrative – and even more enjoyable – than working for someone else. Running your own business can include anything from selling handcrafted items on Etsy, fixing laptops for other students or building websites and online portfolios.

Being an entrepreneur can be more profitable than other jobs, but it also requires more time. It may take you a long time to get started, and you may have to work for below-minimum wage until you build a network of clients.

The great news about entrepreneurship is that you can continue doing this after you graduate, especially if you’re going to grad school or entering a low-paying profession. Plus you can scale the business to fit your schedule. Eventually, you may even be able to outsource some of the work to other students.

A payoff for being resourceful

When you’re trying to earn money, it can be tempting to seek out opportunities that offer an easy way to make money. But be careful – there are lots of scams out there. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Find the right job that works with your schedule and stay open to new opportunities. 

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