College is expensive, especially in the United States. Nearly 70% of college students have a part-time job. Having extra cash on hand can help with living expenses or help you avoid having to take out expensive student loans. There are plenty of options out there for students looking to earn extra cash while working around their class schedule – safe, legal, and sometimes even tax-free job options that students can work in their spare time. All it takes is a little extra initiative to start working and making some useful extra pocket money.
Why Should You Work While Studying?
Extra work during college can also:
- Impress future employers. Building ample work experience early will give you a leg up when it comes time to apply for the career you really want.
- Expand your social and professional network, which could prove useful for years to come after you graduate. The people that you meet while working could be the ones to help you out later, by opening the door to new job opportunities.
- Perform better academically, especially if your side job is related to your current coursework. For example, if you’re a mechanical engineer, working part-time to repair cars or working at an engineering firm can help you apply the practical aspects of your study. However, it’s very important to balance your working hours and set aside enough time for completing your schoolwork.
Hunting for all the different ways to earn some money can be tough, and the internet can certainly take you through some weird twists and turns. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a list of ways you can earn a little extra money on the side while you’re studying in college or even high school.
Driving, Delivery, and Other Little Side Gigs
If you’re the responsible driver in your friend group and are used to schlepping everyone around, then driving for Uber or Lyft might be a great option for you.
Driving for ride-sharing services has become one of the easiest part-time jobs that even students can sign up for. To start with, you will need a valid driver’s license, a profile photo, a 4-door vehicle, and proof of vehicle insurance if you plan on driving your own car. Though, if you’re under 23, you do need three years of prior driving experience, too.
One of the best things about driving for Uber or Lyft is that you can also choose your own schedule. Yes, you have to log in when you’re on a ride, but when that happens is entirely up to you. Drive between classes, in the evenings, or on weekends. Keep in mind that driving at peak hours often pays a lot more, though it can get a little hectic, too.
If you’re not interested in driving strangers around, delivery could be more your thing. Food delivery staff are always in demand either by local restaurants or services like UberEats, GrubHub, Instacart, and many more.
One potential benefit of delivering food is that you don’t need a car, depending on your location. If you have a bike or a motorcycle, either will do. Even those with a probationary motorcycle license can deliver food. There are options other than working with food, too. Supermarket and retail stores also often have their own delivery team that you can sign up to be a part of.
TaskRabbit has a huge selection of random jobs that people with the relevant skills can pick up. It connects customers with Taskers, people who have some skill or experience they can apply for extra money.
From cleaning, event planning, and dog walking to minor repair work and furniture assembly, TaskRabbit has an assortment of jobs to suit everyone. Think of it as the new Craigslist for all handy jobs or tasks. While TaskRabbit earlier listed jobs that required physical skills, it now also has jobs that can be done virtually. Take up tasks like web designing, data entry, or even marketing.
Freelance Writing and Surveys
If you think freelance writing isn’t for you just because you’re not a writer or an English student, then think again. All those essay assignments, research papers, and college thesis papers were plenty of preparation!
As a freelance writer, you may find the opportunity to write on any topic that interests you. And luckily, there are a lot of freelance writing gigs out there for students to find. Many companies also choose to hire freelance writers for economic and health safety purposes.
Platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, LinkedIn, and other job posting websites are great places to look for freelance writing work. Many companies also look out for contributing writers who can write on specific topics of interest. For instance, if you’re interested in giving your take on current events, you could write for a small online news publication. Another option could be to approach a business that has a website or requires other online content to be written on a regular basis. Businesses like this often require freelancers to write blogs and other types of content.
Online surveys are an easy way to earn some extra cash in your spare time. It’s not something that requires too much effort, and some surveys can be finished in just ten to fifteen minutes. Oftentimes, all you need is a working internet connection.
Many online surveys are set up by companies who are trying to get more research done about their websites or products. They usually ask you to complete a small survey or give your opinion on something. The payouts for filling surveys are usually in small cash amounts of $5 or in gift cards.
You can sign up on platforms like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, or Toluna to receive questionnaires from companies. Online surveys are admittedly not the biggest earners on the list, but they are great for earning some extra cash for food and drinks.
Selling or Marketing Online
Selling off your stuff in a garage sale is a time-honored way to whip up extra cash, but the more efficient modern way is online. eBay, Craigslist, Etsy, Bonanza, and even Amazon are solid options.
Look for anything you don’t use anymore. Things like clothes, shoes, old games, electronics (in good working condition!), books, furniture, and anything else you can think of may be good sells.
The key to selling online is taking great photographs of what you’re trying to sell. Some people even operate sustainable businesses by buying poorly-advertised inexpensive items, taking better photos, and reselling them. If you live in a great city for garage sales, consider hosting one of your own, or using it as a way to find items to flip.
Advertisers have tapped into the power of social media to reach out to younger generations with product sponsoring. If you have over 1000 followers on Instagram or YouTube for example, then advertisers would love to have you sponsor and/or review their products online.
You can set your own rate for each sponsored post, depending on how well your posts generally perform and how engaging they are to your audiences. You also get to keep the products you sponsor or review too!
If you’re looking to become a social media influencer yourself, then starting with small product endorsements is a good first step to establishing your brand.
If you have any experience with photo, image, and/or video editing software, you can apply to be a graphic designer.
Graphic designers are constantly in demand for websites, social media, or even local printers. Since graphic designing can be done from anywhere, many companies are offering opportunities for freelance graphic designers to get in the game.
If you’re new to graphic designing on a commercial level or haven’t done any designing before, it’s best to first familiarize yourself with the latest software. Put together a portfolio of all your relevant work from school or other jobs to show prospective clients.
Start Saving – Be Smart!
It might sound boring and cliche but learning to save while you’re in college is a great skill that will help you financially throughout the years to come. To protect the money that you earn, choose a bank that gives a higher interest rate on savings and deposit however much money you have into a savings account. The money that you save will earn cumulative interest for as long as you keep it in the account.
For those with an interest in the stock market, it’s never too early or too late to start investing in stocks, too. You don’t need to be earning large sums of money to be an investor. Even $50 or $100 dollars a month will do to start with.
There are plenty of stock trading and ticker apps that help guide you towards making the right investments for your budget. Apps like Betterment, Acorns, and SoFi are great places for beginner investors to start.
If you have some time to spare, earning a little quick cash while you’re studying is a real possibility. Just always keep in mind that school comes first. It’s important to balance school and work in a way that helps you avoid burnout. That would really hamper your studies at school, your work performance, and your mood in general.
To avoid getting caught up in a job, take some time to understand why you’re looking for an extra job in the first place. Is it to get some disposable income, pay tuition, or build your professional network?
Identifying the reasons behind wanting to earn some extra cash while you’re studying can actually help you decide which jobs to pick. Plan a schedule for yourself that will prevent you from burning out, too. Schoolwork can be tough, and education usually needs to come first. Then, check out the ideas in the list above to find the perfect job that aligns with your goals!
About the author
Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She often covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance and law, but also enjoys writing about travel, interiors and events.