17 ways to banish your "broke college student" status
Can we retire the term "broke college student?"
I try to never use this term to describe myself. While I am in college, and I'm not wealthy, I know that I am given a wealth of opportunities more than others are afforded. If your parents are paying even a small part of your tuition/rent, you are a wealthier college student than most.
Not trying to get preachy, but I try to acknowledge that it is purely circumstance and coincidence that I wasn't born into a family in a developing country where I would be forced to work in a garment factory making .50 cents per piece I create to support my family. Or that I wasn't born in poverty to a family that doesn't see the value in education. Or that I wasn't born in a country where women aren't allowed to go to school.
I'm incredibly, incredibly lucky. And you are too (most likely) if you are reading this on your personal computer or smartphone!
I'm going to talk briefly and frankly about money because I don't think enough people do. I recognize that this can be divisive. I'm sure some people will think my parents help me too much and others will think they don't help enough. It's cool either way! This is just what works for my family, it may be completely different for yours and that's great!
I'm fortunate enough to have parents who value my education and well-being. They pay for the majority of my tuition and give me a set amount every month to cover groceries and my Metrocard. They also pay for my rent. I pay for utilities (electricity and Wifi) and laundry on my own.
I do go to college in New York City, so in comparison: it's like my parents paying (most of) my tuition, my room + board, and for a meal plan. Which is incredibly generous and fair, in my opinion. They cover everything I need to survive, which relieves a lot of stress from my life.
However, my parents do not pay for me to spend spring break in Mexico or throw $20 in my account "just because". I think this is completely reasonable and I wouldn't have it any other way. They have dedicated their lives to helping me get an education, it would be unfair for me to move across the country and expect them to pay for my "fun money" when I have been given all of the resources needed to make it myself.
I work about 37 hours a week to support the rest of my activities, aka everything you see on Instagram. Athletic classes, brunch, clothes, museum costs, Ubers, dessert, apartment decor, traveling, etc. My school really encourages interning and working as a part of gaining an education, so I realize that this isn't a palatable workload for most other schools. But I absolutely love experiential learning so this is what works best for me! I know this seems like a lot while also going to school, but I'm not kidding when I say that I wake up with a smile on my face every day. I love what I do!
My dad is full of famous quotes, but one that has always stuck with me is, "Emily, with your taste, you will be working two jobs for the rest of your life."
I will admit that he is 100% correct. I love to travel, I love fashion, I love food, I love culture, AND I try to save some. So I do a variety of side hustles when I feel like it. It's fun for me, and it helps me to make some extra money.
I put this short list together of some side hustles nearly anyone can do in college. This is for everyone who struggles to have time for a part-time job, because I know with some majors that can be difficult. These are all jobs you can do sporadically and don't require a commitment. I really hope it helps!
I would say maybe 1-3 of these are mostly NYC-related, but the rest should be able to apply to nearly any college town!
1 - dog walking
Where there are people, there are dogs. In a suburban college town, it would be easy to put up some dog walker posters and start a small business! This is also something you can talk about in interviews after you graduate. In New York, you can even join a service that matches you with dogs that need to be walked in your area. It's called Wag here, and I know it exists in some other cities as well!
2 - pet sitting
Keeping with the animal theme, but petsitting is a fun way to earn a little extra money and bond with a sweet animal while you're missing your family pet! I dogsit for a rescue named Casey about once a month, and we have the best time walking around Central Park. It helps to fill the void when I miss Bryn and I'm so appreciative of the opportunity.
3 - nannying
I know a lot of people who do this during school, and I did it for the last two summers! If you babysat a lot growing up, this is the perfect side hustle during school. You can help with the cognitive and behavioral development of children and really help a busy family out. I know that in New York there is a big need for nannies on the Upper East and West Sides, where a lot of families are located. Quite a few students I know enjoy this as their primary form of income, and since there are families in every town, it shouldn't be too hard to find work if you know where to look! Try utilizing networks such as Facebook and Care.com to find a compatible family.
4 - mystery shopping
This is kind of an unconventional one that could be fun! Here's a link to a list of agencies you can join. This is super flexible and you make your own hours! I also think it would help you become the most educated consumer you can be, which is always a plus.
5 - TV tapings
This is kind of exclusive based on where you're located, but this is one of my FAVORITE side hustles to do. Letting you in on a major secret I suppose, but I use Onset Productions for castings. I typically attend AOL Build tapings because that's what tapes in New York most often. It's an interview series that tapes in the Village with celebrity guests each day. I've made over $100 in a week doing this once. However, it can be really hit or miss and hard to get picked at times. But when you have the opportunity to go, I highly recommend it. I got to be in the same room with Neil Patrick Harris, JK Simmons, and many other celebrities, so it was worth it. If you're NY or LA based, you are bound to find some work and see some celebrities!
6 - focus groups
These can be hard to come by as well, but it depends. My brothers get to do them a lot, so I guess Raleigh has a solid focus group community, but in New York they are fairly sparse or fill up quickly. I was able to do one for a major tech company and was paid quite well for it. There are many agencies you can find online that will help link you to relevant focus groups, so joining one of those may be to your benefit!
7 - event assistance
This one is a bit abstract, but a lot of times PR agencies and event planners need some extra help when it comes time for a big event. I would recommend sending along your resumé and a nice email to see if any local agencies need help, and you may be able to network and make money at the same time. It's a great combo! You can also often get free food or free stuff.
8 - market your existing skills + talents
If you are a human being with a beating heart, chances are that you have a skill others would love to learn or benefit from. Try learning calligraphy, embroidery, sewing, or even nail painting! You could help a lot of friends out using your hobbies and make some extra cash along the way.
9 - sell your art
An obvious one: if you are an artist or are learning, selling your art on Etsy or another site is a great side hustle. Nothing is cooler than having a custom piece if art in your place, so people will often commission an artist to make custom work. A great way to drum up business is to create an Instagram presence for yourself and your art.
10 - sell your clothes
There are now countless ways for you to sell clothes out of your closet. While originally the only choice was to go to Plato's Closet, Buffalo Exchange, or whatever consignment store is near you and try your luck, now thrifting apps like Poshmark and Depop make it easy to sell directly to your consumer. I try to clean out my closet once a season to get rid of pieces I don't wear enough. If you struggle to get rid of things, try having a friend over to help you weed through older pieces! You can even do a clothing swap party with your closest buds.
11 - tutoring
Aced your Spanish class? Another student is probably really struggling and could benefit from your help. You could charge a small fee to help them with their schoolwork. He/she gets better grades, you get satisfaction/funds. Score!
12 - sell your textbooks
I always rent my textbooks, but if you are the type who buys, try getting a price estimate from Chegg or a similar website to see how much you can get back for them. The return process is typically quite easy and you can make a good amount of money back! Some people at my school also sell books to other students on the school Facebook group.
13 - campus ambassadorships
A lot of companies would kill for college students to wear and promote their stuff. Peruse your favorite companies' websites and try to find some ambassador programs! Ambassadors typically have a low time commitment, but still reap the benefits and free stuff from brands they enjoy.
14 - blog!
While my blog currently isn't monetized, I have made some tremendous blogger friends who have monetized their blogs and have turned them into businesses. Setting up partnerships with brands in itself will prepare you for the workplace. Bloggers in college, I salute you, because I feel like I never have any time (which isn't true, I gotta do better).
15 - teach fitness classes
This is a fun one! Get certified and teach fitness classes. Getting certified can be a lot work, but in the end, you can make some extra money as well as get fit by becoming a fitness instructor. There is always a need for them at gyms, and you can also often get a free membership!
16 - catering
This goes along with special event assistance, but feel free to contact catering companies in your area. They often need extra hands when it comes to events. I also assume you get free food out of this arrangement, which is rarely a bad thing.
17 - be a princess
I did this for awhile! I was paid to be a Disney princess for children's birthday parties. It was SO much fun because I got to work on my acting abilities as well as make a child's day. While the jobs are usually short, I made $50 an hour at this job and had a great time. I recommend scouring Facebook to see if one of these companies exists in your area, because a lot of cities have businesses like this!
Hope all of these ideas served as inspiration to make some extra money! Feel free to send any questions my way.
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