Your college years (unlike high school) may be the best years of your life, but when it comes to how to make money, the struggle is real. The price tag on a college education is overwhelmingly high. For the 2021-2022 school year, students paid an average of $51,690 for tuition, fees, room, and board at four-year private nonprofit colleges.
So it should come as no surprise that 70% of college students work while enrolled. But holding a full-time job in college can be a challenge, especially while keeping up with your studies and your social life. One study found that working more than 20 hours per week in college negatively impacted grades, while working less than 20 hours per week had a positive impact on academic performance.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some side hustles that are perfect for college life — and for adding some much-needed cash to your college fund.
What makes a great side hustle for college students?
In order to be successful in school and stay afloat financially, you’ll need a part-time job that doesn’t interfere with your class schedule or study time. That’s why we’ve selected the best side hustles that are flexible and allow you to choose your own hours.
In addition, we know you’re all going to school in different places, and you may not have a car with you. So, some of these opportunities require a vehicle, while others can be done from the comfort of your own dorm room.
We’ve chosen side hustles that are safe and appropriate for undergraduates and included a variety of options for different skill sets and interests. Many of these opportunities may not even feel like work, and all of them are excellent options for how to make extra cash you need — so let’s dive in!
1. Drive around town
If you love exploring your college town and meeting new people, consider becoming a rideshare driver with Lyft. You can make your own schedule and drive as much or as little as you want, depending on your other obligations. The amount you can make varies by location, but you could make more than $20 per hour driving in most major cities.
2. Deliver food
If you want to avoid having passengers in your car, you could opt to deliver food for an app-based delivery service like DoorDash or Instacart. While the earning potential isn’t as high, you’ll be able to listen to music or podcasts as loud as you want without disturbing your customers.
3. Walk dogs or hang out with kids
On top of being greeted by a fur baby with endless excitement, you could actually make some extra dough walking dogs. There are a number of apps, like Rover, that make it easy to get started, even if you don’t have experience.
Not a dog person? You could make extra money babysitting, especially if you have experience. Utilize websites designed to match sitters with families or post ads on bulletin boards in your area.
4. Get cash back
You can earn money just by shopping while using mobile apps. Some apps, like Fetch Rewards, help you earn cash back on your grocery store purchases. There are even websites that allow you to earn up to 40% cash back just for shopping online. This one is a great timesaver for a busy college student because if you can save money on the things you need to buy anyway, you won’t need to spend as much time working to make ends meet.
5. Complete online surveys
With platforms like Survey Junkie, you can earn cash or gift cards just for completing online surveys out of your dorm room. It’s a relatively simple task that you can complete on your own schedule, and while it won't earn you a full-time income, it can help you make some extra cash without too much effort.
If you’re well-versed in an academic subject, consult your school’s tutoring center and apply for a part-time position. As an added bonus, you’ll get experience doing a job that can continue to be a great side hustle after you graduate. You can also check tutoring websites for jobs working with younger students.
7. Put your skills to work
No matter what it is you’re good at, you can likely find odd jobs helping other people by using your skills. If you’re handy, enjoy cleaning or running errands, or can help someone get organized, consider offering your services online or around campus.
Or if you want to complete simple tasks for cash without leaving your dorm room, check out the task-based work available through crowdsourcing websites. You can also advertise your skills on social media or bulletin boards around campus.
8. Be a brand ambassador
Enjoy trying new products? You might have a blast working as a brand ambassador. You could work a sample table or be part of an experiential marketing event (as in: you could dress up in a costume and have a lot of fun). Check Craigslist, local Facebook groups, and your school’s job board for gigs.
9. Sell your stuff
It might be time to clean out your dorm room anyway, and you can easily turn your old stuff into extra cash. Old textbooks, gently-used clothing, and even broken electronics can be sold online or at local stores. This side hustle does double duty by relieving stress from clutter and increasing your cash flow.
10. Get paid to shop
If you don’t mind browsing the aisles of a grocery store with a shopping list in hand, you could get paid to pick up other people’s groceries. There are now several apps that connect you with customers looking to have groceries delivered, and there are positions available whether or not you have a vehicle.
11. Get paid to learn
You can get paid to do online research and learn as you go through research sites. Or if you have a knack for writing, you may be able to write content through sites that connect writers with businesses. College has you in learning mode already, so why not get paid to do research and synthesize information?
12. Solve problems for businesses
If you’re insightful and have great problem-solving skills, you can try to come up with creative solutions for businesses and get a shot at earning some serious cash. There are several sites that allow you to enter problem-solving challenges — like how to market a certain product or what sort of product to create — with the opportunity of earning hundreds to thousands of dollars if you win.
13. Work on campus or be a resident advisor
Working on campus provides you with the convenience of not having to travel, and many colleges have a variety of part-time positions geared toward students. Check your college job board website to find opportunities that are a good fit for your skills and interests. You can also apply to be an RA, which often entitles you to free room and board. Some colleges also pay extra on top of those perks.
Stay focused and don’t forget your studies
Getting a side hustle is a great opportunity to expand your skillset and solve the problem of how to make money in college. But school should remain your No. 1 priority, so don’t pick up too many hours if it will interfere with your studies. Use a task management app to stay organized so you’ll know when assignments are due, and choose a side hustle that will fit well with your schedule.
Attending college means you’ll have limited time to work, so it’s important to practice healthy financial habits to avoid getting in over your head. Set a budget and save for emergencies so you’ll never be caught off guard. If you spend less, you’ll also be able to work less, which means you’ll have more time to enjoy your college experience.
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