StudentHacks: The 5 Best Ways to Make Money in College

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“Maggie,” a girl who so happens to go to my school, has made headlines recently because of her unusual way of paying for college— she strips. And she must be good at it, as she reportedly rakes in upwards of $100,000 a year, while also working toward a double major in Spanish and political science.

I have nothing against strippers, but I cannot say it is a realistic job for everyone. It never was for me. Although, I almost applied for an all-male revue not too long ago (think Magic Mike). I chickened-out after a couple emails with the guy who posted the job.

For those of us who are too scared to work the pole, I compiled a list of ways to earn money where you can keep your shorts on.  I, of course, do not have all the answers, so I hit the streets and interviewed some savvy college students to find out how they make money in a pinch. Stop searching for your sugar daddy and get to work.


1. Snag a work-study gig

Work-study positions are one of the best options for college students who need a part-time job. There are two types of work-study: Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Non-Federal Work-Study (non-FWS). FWS is reserved for students who demonstrate a financial need, and it’s usually awarded through financial aid. If you are ineligible for this kind of aid, you can try for non-FWS.

Students who acquire work-study positions often work manageable hours on campus and may select from many types of jobs. My work-study job was in a computer lab where I worked 20 hours a week doing data input for graduate students in the college of natural resources. It was a great gig because it fit into my schedule and I gained relevant experience for my major. I actually got to work in the same building I took classes in once a week. My favorite part of the job was working with other students and getting paid a decent salary to do it (minimum wage sounds so bleak). Also, my boss was like 26 and extremely attractive for a scientist.


2. Sell your stuff on eBay

If you are a closet hoarder, you are in luck. Buzzfeed published an article yesterday that evaluated the value of old toys (the best of the best for us 90s kids), based on what these items were selling for on eBay. Do you still have your old collection of Pokémon cards? Sell that holographic Charizard and make those memories count for something. I don’t doubt for a second that there are people who will shell out $500 for a Teddy Ruxpin.

I will not pretend it is an easy thing to do. I sold my X-box 360 last semester to a stranger in Wisconsin for $150. I can only hope he is treating her right. If you can bring yourself to cut ties with those old Legos you never use or that original Lite Brite that is collecting dust in your basement, then I suggest you snap a few pictures and let the bidding war begin.


3. Start your own dorm sale

Photo by Eli Burakian of Dartmouth's annual Sustainable Moving Sale

You know all that freshman dorm stuff you don't need anymore, that's just sitting in the garage collecting dust? Never underestimate the average American’s obsession with going to yard sales on a Saturday morning. It is kind of a national pastime. A tad old-fashioned, but desperation leads us to funny places. It is always good to get back to the basics, especially with money.

My family will stage a weekend yard sale every once in a while, and I am always pleasantly surprised by its success. I planned my own yard sale when fundraising for a group trip to Thailand, mostly selling old books, sports equipment and some home décor my mother donated for the cause. Do some digging and find out if your school coordinates an annual campus yard sale. If not, maybe get together with some friends and plan something. It is hard for me to imagine anything more uncomfortable than a conversation with friends in which you try to pitch a yard sale party, but if you promise beer and music, I am sure a couple people will take the bait.


4. Babysitting

For those of you with the patience, babysitting is a great option for working manageable hours and getting paid reasonably well while doing it. I asked Emily Berens, a veteran babysitter attending Salisbury University, what her thoughts are on the babysitting gig. She said, “I was a sophomore when I started babysitting for extra cash. I thought it would be good practice because I’m a secondary education major, and I’m able to work around my school schedule and bring in around $250 a week working for one family.”

I asked her if she thinks babysitting is more suited for female students, to which she replied, “I think it’s easier for girls to find babysitting jobs, but if you know a family who needs a sitter, a guy might find it easier landing a position that way.”


5. Odd jobs for odd relatives

The most practical lesson you will learn in college is that your success is almost fully dependent on your connections. Your family should always be the first connection you use when you are strapped for cash. So, take a lesson from Nepotism 101 and reach out to your odd and off-putting relatives.

Rachel Campbell, an international studies and photography major at Towson University, explained her experience working odd jobs for aunt, “My first  semester, I went to her house every Thursday to mow the lawn, buy groceries, and take care of her pets— pretty much any errand you can think of.” I imagine it might be awkward asking your family for help, but Rachel didn’t let the awkwardness get in her way. “I was nervous, but I called my aunt to see if she needed help at work [a law office] and she told me she was looking for a personal assistant.”

The extra cash you pull in will help you more than you might think. If your odd jobs only earn 50 bucks a week, that’s still enough money for gas, or a classy first date with someone special.

Get more studenthacks and get ahead.


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Senior > English > University of Maryland

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