32 Flexible Ways to Make Money in College
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When I was in college, I was always looking for ways to make money.
I worked several part-time jobs on campus, including the student calling center and indoor bowling alley. When I wasn’t at one of those jobs, I baby sat, dog sat, and tutored local middle schoolers. Needless to say, my college experience was a busy one.
I didn’t have a brag-worthy income, but it was enough to pay for rent, the occasional brunch or night out with friends, and build a modest savings account. Nowadays, there are many more options to make money between classes, some of which you can do without ever leaving your bedroom.
Easiest Ways to Make Money in College
For ways to make extra spending money with minimal effort, start here.
1. Watch videos, take surveys, and get cash back
When I was in school, I witnessed many a classmate watch ESPN, read the news, and shop online during lectures. Tuning out your professor probably won’t help your grades, and I wouldn’t recommend it. But there is one way you could make some extra money during class while still paying attention: watch ads with Swagbucks.
With Swagbucks Watch, you can choose from whatever category of videos that interests you, including news, sports updates, or you can select “discover mode” and let Swagbucks choose the content for you. The site will open a new window for your videos. You’ll need to allow popups for it to work, but you can leave the sound muted.
Swagbucks will take you through a series of videos. You only have to watch 30-45 seconds of each before moving on to the next, and when I tried it, the timer kept counting down even when I wasn’t on a Swagbucks tab.
Once you finish all the videos in a series, you’ll earn a few points (called Swagbucks) that you can redeem for cash or gift cards. Watching videos isn’t the most lucrative way to earn money in college, but it’s by far one of the easiest. Not to mention Swagbucks has other options for earning, like taking surveys and shopping online.
You’ll also get up to $10 as a sign-up bonus for joining Swagbucks and $5 for every friend you refer.
2. Deliver groceries
Delivering groceries with Instacart is an easy side hustle to fit in between classes or when you have free time on the weekends. Whenever you want to work or need to earn some extra money, just open the app, choose an order, and start shopping.
As a full-service shopper, the amount you earn for each order depends on the number and type of items, driving distance, and the amount of effort involved in delivery. Instacart will give you an estimate of your earnings before you shop, and you get to keep 100% of your tips.
You can also earn bonuses for referring your friends to shop with Instacart.
3. Get cash back on things you buy
This isn’t so much a side hustle as it is just making sure you’re not missing out on low-hanging fruit. Whether you do your shopping online or in stores, Rakuten can help you save with coupons and cash-back alerts.
Rakuten users can earn up to 40% cash back with retailers like Amazon, American Eagle, Sephora, and hundreds more. For online shopping, create your free Rakuten account and be sure to install the extension on your browser. Whenever you visit a website that offers cash back with Rakuten, you’ll get a pop-up on your screen. Just click the “Activate Deal” button and your cash back will be applied at checkout.
For in-store cash back, you’ll need to link a credit or debit card to your account. Once you do, you can choose from in-store offers in your area through Rakuten’s online portal. Just link the offer and shop with the card on your Rakuten account to receive cash back.
4. Rent out your car
If you have a car but live on campus and rarely drive it, you can rent it out to earn some cash with an app like Turo.
Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service. According to their website, users with at least average quality metrics earn around $706 per month.
When you sign up to list your car on Turo, you’ll need to set your vehicle’s availability and choose your rental rates. Turo offers an automatic pricing feature that adjusts your car’s price based on the type of vehicle it is, demand in your area, and other factors.
The app also allows you to choose your settings for things like how far in advance people need to make a booking, whether or not people can book instantly or need to wait for your approval, and the level of damage coverage you want Turo to help with.
When you’re ready to hand off your keys, you can complete the verification process either remotely or in person. You’ll receive payment for your first trip via direct deposit 72 hours after the trip ends. All future payments will be made within 3 hours.
5. Sell used books
Once you’ve purchased a college textbook, there aren’t many convenient options for getting rid of it without giving your book away or trying to sell it to other students. But by the time you’re finished with a book, even if you bought it brand new, your school might be moving on to a newer edition.
Even if you can sell it, you’re often looking at a fraction of the price you paid unless you can find a good deal online with a site like BookScouter.
On BookScouter, you can search for selling prices by entering your book’s ISBN number. The site will search over 30 vendors and show you who’s offering the best deal for that title. Choose a vendor, ship your book for free, and get paid via PayPal within three days (depending on the vendor).
After you’ve sold your own books, look out for deals on books in your area. If you can find them for cheap enough, you can purchase and then sell them for a profit on BookScouter.
6. Walk other people’s dogs
Having a dog in college is hard (and expensive). I got my dog, Benny, while I was in school, but there were many skipped classes, ruined boots, and tears cried over all the money spent paying people back for things he ruined (a retainer being one of the most painful — and disgusting).
While you may not be able to have your own dog in college, you can make money by taking care of other people’s canine companions. You can sometimes find good dog sitting gigs on Craigslist or Facebook, but Rover is a safer, more reputable option.
When you sign up to be a Rover dog sitter, you’ll be connected with dog owners in your area. The highest earners are those who offer overnight dog boarding, but you can select which services you provide, including boarding, walking, doggy day care, or house-sitting and drop-ins.
You’ll need to apply with Rover and pay a $25 background check fee. Once you’re approved, you can set your rates and start booking clients.
Best Ways to Make Money in College
These are some of the highest-paying college gigs. They may take a little more effort or an upfront investment to start, but you can earn more than any part-time job, and probably in less time.
7. Run Facebook ads for other businesses
We’ve all had the experience of scrolling through Facebook or Instagram and being hit with an ad for something you were just looking at online.
That’s obviously no coincidence. Facebook has a pretty sophisticated ad platform. Many online business owners already know and take advantage of Facebook ads, but most local businesses don’t. That’s what makes this side hustle so lucrative.
As a Facebook ad specialist, you can help local business owners get in front of more people, or even reach an entirely new demographic. Of course, you have to learn how to create Facebook ads first. You can learn the basics of creating and managing ads for free in Facebook’s business center. But if you want a deep-dive on how to actually make money with this skill then consider a more advanced option like the Facebook Side Hustle Course.
This course covers everything from building a funnel with Facebook ads to finding and landing your first few paying clients. According to the course page, students who complete the program charge an average of $1,000 to $2,000 per month for each client. When you enroll, you’ll also receive one free month of coaching from the course creators inside a private Facebook group.
8. Offer your services to business owners
There’s a lot that goes into running a business — creating graphics, managing a team, handling customer questions and complaints, and a thousand other tasks. If you’re studying a subject like marketing or graphic design, this could be the perfect opportunity to gain experience in your field while making some extra money.
In the online world, someone who does various types of freelance work for a business is often called a virtual assistant, or VA. As a VA, you can manage social media pages, handle customer service, organize travel, create graphics, write copy for emails or blog posts. Anything a business owner needs help with that you have adequate knowledge or skill in is a possibility.
All you need to get started is a few willing clients. If you’re not quite ready to pitch your services or need some more guidance, start with a free workshop like this one: 5 Simple Steps to Become a Virtual Assistant. This free mini training includes a step-by-step process for pitching and landing your first few virtual assistant clients (without spamming your friends and family on social media).
9. Start a blog and monetize it
You don’t have to be an English major, or even a good writer, to start and monetize a blog. All you need is an interesting topic to write about, preferably something that solves a problem for others, and a marketing strategy.
There are lots of ways to make money with a blog, but one of the best ways to start is with affiliate marketing. You find products and services relevant to your topic, write about them, and include your affiliate links. When people sign up through those links, you get a small commission. When you search online for “how to start a blog,” almost every article that comes up will have affiliate links in it.
Many sites you probably already visit make money through affiliate marketing. All you need is content, something to sell, and people to read your writing. The Launch Your Blog course covers all three, as well as how to set up your website, find affiliate products, get traffic, and so much more. It can take a while to make money with a blog, but less so if you have a plan from the start.
10. Try your hand at freelance writing
Journalism or English majors are obvious candidates for a freelance writing side hustle. But having your writing published online can help you build authority no matter what your field of study.
For example, if you’re a food and exercise science major, writing for a health and fitness website would show future employers that you have a passion for your work, and that you understand and can communicate difficult concepts to the lay person.
The same goes for anyone majoring in finance, law, medicine, or really any subject. If you want to become an authority and be known as an expert in your field, freelance writing can help build your credibility. Some niches, like personal finance, also pay very well.
This free workshop offers tips from six-figure freelance writer Holly Johnson. In it, Johnson covers the six keys to being successful as a freelance writer, techniques to increase your income, and how to get your foot in the door with high-paying clients.
11. Manage social media for businesses
Social media management is something you can offer as a part of your virtual assistant package. But if you’re interested in building a following on social media or working in the field after you graduate, you can build more authority by solely offering social media management services.
As a social media manager, you’ll be responsible for creating and executing a business’s social media marketing strategy. You can start broad by managing all types of social media accounts or hone in on a niche by focusing on a single platform like Instagram or Facebook.
Whichever you choose, your job will be to build the company’s brand and figure out how to use social media to reach new customers and sell more products or services. Be sure to track before and after metrics like followers, engagement, and sales so you can add them to your resume.
12. Tutor your favorite subjects
Chances are there’s at least one subject you’re good at and enjoy. One of the easiest ways to make money in college is to tutor your fellow students in one of those areas.
Many campuses offer tutoring positions through the college learning center. You can ask a professor or visit the tutoring center, if your college has one, to find out if they’re hiring. At my school, I was able to apply online through the campus jobs portal.
Another option is to sign up with an online tutoring service like Chegg. As a Chegg tutor, you work with students in middle or high school, college, or working professionals. Subjects vary from calculus and electrical engineering to French and LSAT prep.
The site sends students to you, so you don’t have to worry about advertising your services, and you can teach all your lessons online. According to Chegg’s site, rates start at $20 per hour and tutors get paid every week.
Creative Ways to Make Money in College
You probably won’t make a fortune on these ideas, but you can bring in some extra spending money while flexing your creative muscles.
13. Flip items for a profit
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If you love to find great deals on clothing, accessories, electronics, and other goods, flipping may be a fun way for you to make money in college. I have a friend who started a furniture flipping side hustle in college and still enjoys it as a nice side income today.
To find items you can flip for a profit, visit garage sales, discount stores, and consignment shops in your area. It takes practice to know what types of items are undervalued. Depending on what items you flip, you may need to learn a new skill in order to turn a profit on your purchases.
For example, you can often find used furniture at a good price on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. With a little sanding, some paint, and a nice finish, you could turn an old wooden table into a beautiful new kitchen statement piece.
This side hustle is especially suitable for interior design majors or anyone who’s crafty or wants to learn new handyperson skills.
14. Design and sell T-shirts (or leggings, phone cases, backpacks, and more)
In the past, if you wanted to sell T-shirts, you would’ve had to create the design, find a printer, have the printed, advertise them, and deal with the hassle of fulfilling orders. Now there are websites like Teespring that do all the back-end work for you, so all you have to do is create a design and choose your selling price.
With Teespring, you use their software to create a design. Once you’re finished, you’ll Teespring will tell you the base cost for your product. You choose how much profit you want to make on each item, which determines the selling price.
Teespring offers marketing tools to help you make sales, but you can boost your earnings in a couple ways:
- Be creative with your design. Choose something that appeals to a specific person. For example, you can make funny T-shirts that only people in your major would understand relate to.
- Do your own advertising. Share your designs with friends and family on social media. If you have a following online (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, a blog, etc.), then share with your audience.
When someone buys your design, Teespring takes care of order fulfillment and customer service. You can request your payout within 24 to 48 hours after your order is sent to the buyer.
15. Edit or proofread papers
English, communications, or journalism majors may be especially well suited for this college side hustle. However, all you really need is solid grammar and writing skills.
If you or any of your friends are in a major that requires a lot of writing, start spreading the word around about your editing and proofreading services. Editing isn’t the same thing as rewriting. Make it clear that you’re offering feedback and notes, but you won’t be writing other people’s papers for them.
16. Offer resume coaching
When I was in college, I worked for the office for student affairs. One of the perks of my job was that the department would host free resume and career workshops for student employees. I attended a few and got really good at putting together resumes.
I offered to help some of my friends with their resumes for job applications, but I missed out on a prime opportunity to make money in college by offering paid resume coaching services to more people. If you’ve done your research and have the skills to put together a resume that wows potential employers, then don’t squander your gift like I did.
You can find clients by posting in school-related Facebook groups or hanging fliers in dining halls. But for a service like this, word of mouth can be the most powerful marketing.
Tell your friends to tell their friends that you’re helping people with resumes. With everyone applying for jobs and summer internships, spring is likely to be your busiest time of year. However, this side hustle has the potential to bring in a solid income year-round.
17. Sell your photos
Unless you’re a cinema or photography major, then selling photos might not sound like much of a resume builder. However, employers like to see hobbies and interests on your resume, especially for undergraduates. It can also give you some good talking points for your interview.
As long as you have a smartphone with a high-quality camera, you can start this side hustle without investing in any expensive equipment. If you want, you can order lenses for your phone on Amazon for less than $100. Practice taking pictures of landscapes, people (with their permission), or buildings.
Then submit them to one of the many sites that pay for original photography, like Shutterstock or Getty Images. You can also turn your images into art and sell them on Etsy. This probably won’t be your biggest money maker, but it can be a fun way to monetize an existing hobby.
18. Start a YouTube channel
Similar to blogging, making money with a YouTube channel isn’t typically a quick thing. You’ll need to create and publish videos consistently. But if you’re a cinematography or video production major, then creating YouTube videos could be a great way to practice your craft.
Eight-year-old Ryan Kaji, whose channel Ryan’s World has 22.9 million subscribers, earned $26 million in 2019 — up $4 million from his earnings in 2018, when he also gained the highest-earning YouTuber spot https://t.co/H1RLduaMXP
— CNN Business (@CNNBusiness) December 26, 2019
In order to make money with this side hustle, you’ll need to do your research on hashtags and how to optimize your videos for search so people find them organically. Once you have enough views and followers, you can start monetizing your channel with ads.
Other monetization options are similar to blogging: add affiliate links to your video descriptions, create and sell your own products, or reach out to companies to see if they’d like to sponsor your content for a mention in your videos.
On-Campus Jobs to Consider
There are plenty of opportunities to make money in college without leaving campus. You can typically find these jobs online through your school’s student job portal. If you don’t know where to find it, Google “[YOUR SCHOOL NAME] student jobs”.
19. Apply for work study
Work-study is a federal program that provides jobs for students with a financial need.
To apply for it, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA and select the box that states you’re interested in a work-study position. If you land one, your college will aware it as part of your financial aid package. Whether or not you qualify will depend on the number of available positions, your financial need, and other financial aid you qualify for.
20. Work as a teaching assistant (TA)
As a TA, you’ll perform many of the same tasks professors do. You may help students in labs, grade papers, perform research, and even teach lower-level classes.
Your school and the professors will determine the requirements necessary to become a TA. In most cases, however, you’ll be asked to submit copies of your transcripts and letters of recommendation.
While some colleges only offer TA positions to graduate students, others make them available to undergraduates in their junior or senior years as well.
21. Become a resident assistant (RA)
An RA is an upperclassman who serves as a resource to college students who live in dorms and residence halls.
If you become an RA, you’ll be responsible for enforcing the rules and policies of the resident life department, conducting regular room checks, holding meetings with residents, and checking in visitors. In exchange for your services, you may receive free or discounted room and board and/or stipends or hourly pay.
22. Work at a dining hall
There are a variety of jobs available in college dining halls. You could work as a cashier, caterer, dishwasher, or food preparer.
It’s not the most glamorous job, but it could save money on food costs if you’re able to enjoy the occasional free meals or snacks. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your on-campus living expenses, a dining hall position may make sense.
23. Apply at the recreation or fitness center
If your college has a large recreation or fitness center on campus, they likely have openings for jobs like personal trainer, group fitness instructor, or recreation assistant. These are some of the most fun and rewarding on-campus jobs, especially if you get to be involved with a sport or activity you love.
If you’re not interested in the physical activities, there may also be opportunities in areas like member services, marketing, and event planning.
24. Work at an on-campus bookstore or library
On-campus libraries or shops can be a good option if you’re looking for a job that allows you to study during downtime. You’ll probably earn minimum wage, or close to it, but these positions are fairly low-key.
You may need to help other students find books, check people out, and restock shelves, but when things get quiet, you can work on assignments and get paid to do homework.
25. Become a brand ambassador
Big brands often hire students to promote them on college campuses. If you’re passionate about a particular product or brand, you could make an extra income as a brand ambassador.
— Wallet Wise Guy (@WalletWiseGuy) November 19, 2019
Some brands require their ambassadors to perform college outreach where they try to convince students to purchase a certain product. Others ask them to hand out free merchandise at football games and other on-campus events.
As a brand ambassador, you’ll gain valuable marketing experience that looks great on a resume, especially if you want to work in marketing in the future.
26. Give campus tours
If you have an outgoing personality and love your college, a campus tour guide job can be a good option.
Your main responsibility will be to show prospective students and their families around campus. You’ll get to share your experience with up-and-coming freshmen and help them decide if your school is a good fit. This may be a seasonal job with more opportunities to work during the warmer seasons. If you need a consistent income throughout the semester, you may want to combine it with another part-time gig.
Off-Campus Job to Consider
If you have a car and would like a change of scenery from campus, you may want to get a regular part-time job.
27. Become a server
No matter how big or small your college town is, there are likely restaurants in the area that hire college students. If you’re a people person and good at multitasking, you can make good tips as a server at a popular restaurant.
Most places pay an hourly rate plus tips, and you may be able to get discounts on meals. Many college students love to serve because they get to leave every shift with cash and don’t have to wait for a bi-weekly paycheck.
28. Work as a delivery driver for a restaurant
Another option is to check local restaurants in your area for delivery driver positions. These jobs are fairly laid back. You get to deliver people’s orders while driving around in your car listening to music or your favorite podcasts.
The downside is that it puts a lot of wear on your car. If your car is already on the older side and requires regular maintenance already, then you might do more damage to it than what you earn in this position.
29. Be a barista or bartender
If you have a penchant for alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, a bartender or barista position may be your perfect gig. You’ll get paid to learn how to make your favorite drinks and probably meet people who share your love of a good drink.
The downside of both positions is that you may have to work odd hours — either early in the morning or late into the night. If that doesn’t mess up your sleep or class schedule, then you can make solid tips and leave your shifts with cash in hand.
30. Babysit for professors
If you know any of your professors well and they have kids, ask if they need a babysitter. This could be both a way to make some extra money and an opportunity to network with a professor (who you may later come to for a letter of recommendation).
31. Work in retail
If you don’t mind working nights and weekends, a retail job can be a good option. One of the biggest perks of working in retail is getting an employee discount. However, if you’re not careful, you could end up spending more money at your job than you make.
For this reason, it might be best to look for jobs with stores that don’t interest you. Less temptation to spend equals more of your paycheck that you get to keep.
32. Work at a before or after school program
You can usually find these positions at daycares or elementary schools.
If you get a job at a before or after school program, you’ll be responsible for helping kids with homework, participating in fun activities like crafts or sports, and caring for them until it’s time for school or for their parents pick them up. This is a particularly smart move if you’re an education major as it can help you qualify for a teaching position once you graduate.
Don’t Be Afraid to Put Yourself Out There
Whether you need the money for living expenses or just want some extra spending cash for the weekend, there’s no shortage of options for making money in college.
Don’t be afraid to try things you never imagined doing. College is a great time to explore different jobs and side hustles to find what you like. If you’re going to school for finance but you’ve always had an interest in writing, then try your hand at creating a blog or writing for websites. You may learn new skills and interests that will aid in your future career, or find something that changes you career path altogether.
Even if your side hustle doesn’t turn into a full-time gig, the lessons learned, connections made, and skills gained will be well worth the experience.