Ok, now I’m having a hard time focusing on writing this post, instead of humming the 1983 chart-topping single by Donna Summer. Did you know the woman Donna was singing about in the song was a bathroom attendant who was later featured on the back cover of the album? I didn’t. Thanks SongFacts.
Back to the post…Thanks to the many
income streams, err part-time jobs I worked during college and grad school I was able to make it through the higher education jungle with only $30,000 in student debt. No that wasn’t a typo, I did write, “only”. Yes $30,000 is an enormous amount of debt (so much so, I was in student debt denial after I graduated). But if I hadn’t worked so much and so hard while I was a student, I would have owed much, much more when I graduated.
Here are a few of the jobs I did while I was in school.
- Tutoring-There are many companies out there who hire college students to tutor, but my clients came via word of mouth. I didn’t want to share my fees with a company, so I made up a few posters and left them at local elementary schools. I also volunteered one day per week at a local after-school program. While volunteering, several parents approached me about babysitting and tutoring. Most of my private tutoring jobs from that point on came via referral from those parents (I of course ran this by the principal first, and she said it was fine).
- Selling “Stuff”- One woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, right? Furniture items that students left behind were some of my better, “finds”. I snagged bookshelves and lamps that didn’t fit in their U-Haul and sold them on craigslist and E-bay. Because everything I got was free, every penny I made was pure profit (minus E-bay and paypal fees). Looking back, I wish I’d had a truck so I could have taken sofas and beds. Obviously this is not a good strategy if you live somewhere where bed bugs are a concern. NYC readers, ignore this one.
- Work Study-Based on my family’s financial situation I was eligible for federal work study. I know a lot of people think work study is a waste of time because the jobs offered often don’t pay much. But the key to work study is finding a job where you can study. My junior year of college, I worked in the photo lab for the art department. The only requirements for this job were keeping the photo chemicals fresh (they showed me how, it wasn’t hard) and making sure that nobody was doing the hanky panky or stealing anything. I essentially was paid $30.00 per day (4 hour shift) to do my homework and readings.
- Babysitting-At my university (and I suspect most colleges) parties lasted well into the early morning hours. To make the best use of all the hours in the day, I babysat on most Friday and Saturday evenings. While the parents went out to dinner, their kids and I were eating pizza (free dinner, added bonus!), playing board games and having a good time. When they returned for the evening, I’d go home, get ready and head to the party. By the time I got there everybody was just, “warming up”, so I hadn’t really missed anything and my wallet was two or three Jackson’s heavier.
- Waitressing/Bartending-It’s not easy work by any means, but if you can find a restaurant or cafe with a lot of traffic, or a fine dining establishment with moderate traffic, you can make really good money. $5-$10 per table (or much more depending on the average entree price) adds up really quick. On good nights I’d make $100 or more.
- Mystery Shopping-Yes mystery shopping is real (and it’s actually pretty fun if you like to shop and are very organized). I did quite a few mystery shops when I was in college. Most don’t pay a lot, $5-$25, but some of the more detailed shops do pay more. My favorites were chain restaurant shops (you pay for the meal and get reimbursed, plus make a small free) and bus shops. One bus shop in particular, paid you buy a bus ticket. You didn’t actually have to use the ticket, (but you could if you wanted and I got several free trips to Boston that way. Score!) just evaluate the service of the person selling the ticket. I’ve personally worked with both Reality Based Group and Gfk. **It’s free to register at all legitimate mystery shopping sites-Never pay a fee!**
- Lifeguarding-In high school and college I was a Red Cross certified lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor. Summers, I made $20 per hour lifeguarding at a local yacht club. In addition, I offered private swimming lessons for $25 per hour. Thanks to these lucrative jobs, I was able to pay for a large chunk of my living expenses each year I was in school. Not to mention, I had a lot of fun, met a lot of cool people, and learned lot of responsibility (all priceless).
These are just a few of the ways I’ve made money to pay my way through school. There are undoubtedly many more ways if you’re creative and motivated, and don’t want to graduate with a mountain of debt.
Two Ways I’d Making Money if I was in College now:
Blogging-Admittedly, I’m too old to have blogged during college (some people were probably blogging back then, but I wasn’t one of them). In fact, I’m not even sure I knew what a blog was when I was in college. I suspect that there are many industrious college students out there these days making pretty good money blogging. There are a lot of great posts out there explaining exactly how to get started if you’re interested. I registered my domain name with GoDaddy and use BlueHost for hosting. If you’re going to try to make money with your website or blog, self-hosting is really the way to go.
Freelance Writing-If you love to write, freelance writing is a great way to earn extra income. If you can blog, you can use your blog as a portfolio of sorts. If not, putting together a basic portfolio and writing a few sample articles or blog posts is an easy way to get started. Problogger has a job board if you’re looking for blogging gigs.
Walking Dogs-I do some dog walking and cat sitting and I love it. Students who love animals make great dog walkers because they’re home during the middle of the day when the 9-5’ers are working. No special training or equipment is required and you can get started without a website. Word of mouth and craigslist have been effective for me.
How did you make money when you were in school? Are you doing any of these now? I’m still rocking 2, 4 & 6!