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5 Ways I Made Money as a College Student

Jan 16, 2020 7 min read

College students are notorious for their empty bank accounts and broke lifestyle.

Even with a life of frugality and constant saving, the lack of a steady income stream makes it difficult for most full-time students to have enough money for anything.

So… it seems like we all need a little extra cash

There is evidence that many full-time students are working, but they may not be choosing the right work for them. Too many of the options I’ve come across require inconvenient hours that conflict with classes or other planned activities.

That’s why my favorite ways to make money don’t require me to leave my apartment. And if they do, it’s either something I genuinely enjoy doing or something that allows me to do other work at the same time.

I consistently made over $500 per week on work that did not cause me extra stress, but rather gave me some money to go out and eat with friends once in a while.

These jobs were by no means passive, but they weren’t major stressors in my life.

In this article, I want to give you some ideas for making side income as a college student that have personally worked for me.

1. Build University Websites for Professors or Research Labs

This was one of my favorite ways to make money as a college student. Anyone can do this.

If you’ve ever explored your university’s website for research labs or professor information pages, you’ll notice that most of them are not the most exciting websites out there.

The webmasters at these schools are generally only worried about functionality. Not all schools are like this, though. I know that some of the pages on my university website are actually pretty decent looking.

That being said, there is always a need for web developers or web designers to either revamp or build a website from scratch. You do not need to be a Computer Science major. Be sure to have some experience, though, whether it’s a personal website or a sample business website. The job usually is not a huge task, so they won’t require numerous hours or in-depth knowledge of how the internet works.

My experience

During my time in college, I’ve worked for one research lab and two professors as their web developer. The pay ranged from $11/hr to $20/hr.

On any given week, I would work and self-report between 15 to 20 hours, making me up to $400 per week.

The great thing is that these hours can come from any time during the day. It truly doesn’t feel like 20 hours when it is split up among each day in the week.

Even if you aren’t completely familiar with how to build a website, don’t worry! Much of what professors need simply require basic understanding of front-end technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and maybe web hosting. Your university may have its own policy of hosting sites as a subdomain of your university’s website, which you may have to contact IT about.

Where can I find this job?

Every single job I’ve found came from my university’s Job Board.

I can guarantee that your university has something similar.

Search "[University Name] job board” in Google, and you might find what you’re looking for.

2. Work in a Computer Lab

Monitoring a computer lab generally entails:

  • Keeping the lab clean
  • Refilling printers (paper, toner, drums)
  • Fixing paper jams
  • Answering student questions about the lab
  • Closing up the lab

All these duties require maybe 10-15 minutes of your time in the lab.

My experience

This is a job that required me to be in the lab for 3-4 hours during certain days of the week.

That means the rest of the time is time to do my own homework or maybe even work on that website from the first recommendation (two birds with one stone). I just had to make sure I was always ready to answer student questions.

This job paid $9.25 per hour. With two 3-hour shifts, I would make $55.50 per week.

Where can I find this job?

Go to your university’s computer lab and check around for Hiring Now posters. If the lab has its own website, check for hiring information there or even send a message to the given email.

3. Write or Take Photos for the School Newspaper

Just like the first recommendation, this is a job that usually doesn’t require you to be in an office during certain hours of the day. You just have deadlines to meet, but your work hours are up to you.

Most universities have school newspapers or even newsletters to update the school on upcoming events related to the university itself.

My experience

I know people who either write or take photographs for the school newspaper.

For either job, you generally have to submit one or two writing or photography samples to demonstrate that you are competent in this field.

The jobs that I’ve seen range from $15 to $20 per article and require a few hours per week to write or take photos. If you’re just getting started, you probably won’t be asked to contribute every single week.

You do not need to be an English major to be a great candidate for this writing. If writing comes naturally to you, then this could be a great option! Just like any other job, you will learn different writing strategies and skills along the way.

You probably will, however, need to know your way around a camera and will probably need your own to take pictures for the school newspaper.

Where can I find this job?

Your school will have its own school newspaper that you should definitely read (since students put a lot of time into it heh).

This “newspaper” is probably just another blog, so check around for a “Write for Us” link or an email that you can contact.

4. Perform Music

I personally have found many different ways to take advantage of my hobbies to make a little bit of extra money.

Ever since my baby days, I’ve loved playing and performing music. Luckily, my university cafeteria pays students to perform hour-long sets during lunchtime.

My experience

They pay up to $50 per performance. Since I only perform once a week, it’s an extra $50 per week doing something I genuinely love.

I have seen students perform piano pieces, sing pop music, and even DJ in the cafeteria.

I can repeat music. I can take requests. It’s very flexible, which makes it much less stressful.

Where can I find this job?

I can imagine that some universities may not offer the exact same program. Non-affiliated cafes around my campus town have similar paid programs that allow students to perform in front of customers. It may be worth it to ask the managers in person or through email about any similar opportunities they may have.

5. Teach a Class

I know you’re not looking for difficult ways to make some money as a college student, so I’m not suggesting you TA a very technical class in your major (even though that is a very valuable experience that many students should go through).

I am, however, recommending that you teach a class directed towards underclassmen.

This could be an introductory class or an earlier class in your major.

You can get paid for the hours that you’re teaching your class as well as any hours interacting with students, preparing assignments, and grading assignments.

My experience

I taught an hour-long Engineering Orientation class for freshmen in my major, paying $10 an hour. Each week consisted of around 5 hours of work in total, leading to $50 per week on average.

This greatly improved my presentation skills and taught me how to discipline children. Because they were all children to me. My students were great.

Where can I find this job?

Think back to your freshman year and any orientation classes you may have had.

Or perhaps think about any class that was run by a student.

Those are positions that students had to apply and interview for. That means those are ones that you could teach yourself.

You can either contact those student-teachers or find the application online.

Conclusion

I hope this list was helpful to you!

I had these 5 jobs all in the same semester, and it was very manageable. Don’t be off-put by the number of jobs you have, but rather gauge your capacity and the effort required for each job.

You won’t have the same journey as me because you’re a different human being and you may be at a very different university.

There are always opportunities out there that fit you as a student and as a worker, so don’t be afraid to contact managers and ask questions.

Go get ‘em.


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