Published September 26, 2016|7 min read
Updated September 21, 2020: Earning an income as a full-time college student can be a challenge when your academic plate is full. When you’re loaded up with 12, 15 or even 18 credits in a semester, taking on even the smallest part-time gig might get in the way of class, studying, homework and other important stuff you can’t go without, like eating and sleeping.
Thankfully, taking on a side hustle or two is a way to make money without spreading yourself too thin, whether you’re looking to pay down student loan debt, save some money, or just looking for some extra pocket cash.
Side hustles are essentially part-time jobs that are usually freelance based, so they’re easier to commit to, since you can set your own hours and work from anywhere, fitting in work before, after, or in-between classes. Just make sure you're keeping track of your earnings, so you're prepared come tax season.
Here are some of our creative side hustle ideas for college students to get you started.
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This one can be easy since you don’t have to leave campus to do it. Think of a subject you excel at that you can teach to underclassmen – it can be your major or another subject you do well in. Your university’s student or career center should have more information on becoming a tutor on campus. Remember that your grades will need to qualify and you may need a teacher recommendation. Advertising on Craigslist or hanging up fliers on campus, or at local high school or elementary schools, will get your services noticed.
One person’s trash can be another’s treasure. If you’ve got anything from old clothes, books, CDs, going the eBay or Amazon route is always a tried and true method of earning some extra bucks. Of course, if you’re the crafty or creative type, Etsy is the perfect online venue for showcasing and selling your wares. It’s a creative outlet for creative types, and who knows? Set up shop, and it might turn into something more profitable than you imagined.
Learn more about monetizing your old stuff here.
It’s not even really a hustle, since you’re basically getting paid to wear a company’s clothes while you go about your business on campus. One inventive, yet easy, side job idea is to become a campus representative for a company with a big college-age customer base. Brand rep opportunities are often posted on your college’s career board, so keep an eye out. Of course, if you’re out shopping at the mall, don’t hesitate to ask if the brand has any college-related opportunities.
The Uber and Lyft rideshare phenomenon seems to be all but eradicating the conventional taxicab business, since you’re doing the same thing only with your own car. A decent side hustle for students with cars, you can fit in rides when you have the time, not the other way around. If drinking isn’t your thing, this side gig is perfect for picking up your peers during pub crawls from the bars to the dorms. (Just make sure you have the right type of insurance.) If you live on campus and left your car at home (or use it sparingly), another way to make some cash is to rent your car out via sites like JustShareIt.com, where the money you earn is set by the value of your car and the amount of time a customer will rent it for.
A good side hustle – particularly for the budding entrepreneurs and marketing majors out there – could be to leverage some of your social media savvy and make some extra dough from it. Think about a hobby, skill or special interest of yours that could make a good online consulting business on the side. You might even take our tutoring suggestion a step further and offer online consulting to other underclassmen on campus, coaching them on everything from maximizing study time, to hacking it living on campus for the first time. Start by reaching out to student groups and organizations via Facebook and Twitter, or see if you can advertise through your campus career center.
As you make money, make sure you're keeping track of it all. Download this easy budgeting spreadsheet to stay organized.
If you’re not the entrepreneurial type for blogging, consulting or social media, you can still make money from the Web on the side. Becoming an online survey taker gets you compensated for taking short surveys, so you don’t need to leave your dorm room or the computer lab to squeeze in a few questionnaires.
Sign up for a site like TaskRabbit or Fiverr where you can get paid to complete small tasks for people and get paid for them (here's how to get started). It could be babysitting, pet sitting, dog walking, snow shoveling, pool cleaning, car washing, assembling office furniture, cleaning an office/apartment/house/dorm, gofering, or making grocery runs. Agent Anything is mostly tailored towards employing students, so all you need is to create a login, view the task and agree on the price. If you’re more the strapping jock type, many moving companies employ college students looking to do some heavy lifting. But if you’re the absolute autonomous type, sign up on a site like Postmates.com to deliver goods or food to residences and businesses; the site, in particular, pays up to $25 per hour.
Here are six more ways to make money using apps.
If working at Starbucks or the food court isn’t your thing, becoming a mystery shopper allows you to rate their customer service and products. Sneaky? Not when you’re getting paid to see if franchises and companies are giving the best service. If you’re a regular visitor to the mall, you might as well be compensated for it.
The good thing about working for a catering company for big events like weddings or graduation parties is that they often hire on an as-needed basis, so you can work one or two as a server or on the wait staff, and sign up again when you have the time, like during weekends or on spring break.
When going home for holiday and summer breaks, you may want to consider renting out your home while you're not there. Airbnb makes it easy for you to put your home up online for rental at any time — just make sure you're complying with your local laws on subletting. Here's a checklist on everything you need to know about becoming an Airbnb host.
You can apply here.
If your college or university is in a major city, metropolitan hub, or even just an historical location, there’ll likely be an influx of tourists who need to be shown around. If you’re more than acquainted with your school’s town, why not give tours as a side hustle? You might even take it in another direction and become a docent for the local museum or historical society, some of which pay a small stipend.
Don’t feel limited in the side gigs you can pursue just because you’re a full-time student. First, ask yourself, What am I good at? Is there anything I can do on the side that I’ve worked part time at before? Or, something that allows me to get paid going about my day-to-day routine?
Once you identify the skills that can translate into a side gig, the beauty of it is that you’re essentially your own boss – you don’t need to quit one job, interview for another, and tie yourself to one gig.
Don’t ignore the career benefits that a side gig can later bring you, either. List them on your resume or LinkedIn page so future employers can be impressed with your diversity of experiences – and never forget that once you’re in the post-college career world, a side hustle is always there waiting for you to take.
Still don't know where to begin? Here's a list of eight side hustles that cost nothing to start.
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