The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.
We can all agree that times are tough financially as a student. You don’t have any money since you don’t get paid to be a student. You have all of the energy in the world, but you don’t have much money to do anything. So you feel stuck.
This is why I did everything possible in college to start making money. Your college experience can be much more pleasant with some money to enjoy life more and to avoid racking up massive amounts of debt that will haunt you for decades to come
Let’s look at how college students can start making money…
Many of us just assume that we’re going to be broke until we find some lucrative job after college. You don’t have to be broke as a college student. You can find creative ways to make some money so that you have options and so that you can control your debt a little.
When did I realize that you can make money as a student?
I remember sitting around in the computer lab during a spare in college when I ran into a friend who was going to the financial assistance office. He told me to tag along. He informed me that I should apply for a few bursaries/scholarships to try to get some money from the school. This made no sense to me. I had no idea what this guy was up to.
“How come nobody told us about this earlier?”
I questioned my new friend on this. He then told me about how nobody will ever explain everything about money to you. I stop questioning him and I filled out a few forms in the financial aid office, looking into other options for financial assistance while I was there.
I figured that the college would just ignore me.
A few weeks later, I got an email from the school’s financial aid office. I was told to return to the same office where I had filled out the forms.
I was worried that I was in trouble. About to be reprimanded for having the nerve to ask for money.
It was the opposite of that.
My check had come in for the bursary. Turns out that not many people applied so everyone who did apply, got the bursary awarded to them with no questions asked. I cashed my $300 check and spent the money on something stupid.
That was when I learned that there’s a lot of money available to college students.
How can you make money as a college student?
There are many ways to make money in college. We’re going to look over all of the possible ways that you can bring in a few bucks so that you don’t have to feel broke.
Here’s exactly how to make money in college…
Apply for all forms of financial assistance.
Always apply for any forms of financial assistance/aid that you can find.
Yes, I know that you have to write an essay that explains why you deserve the money. This will likely discourage you. The good news is that 99% of students will be discouraged so those who do submit essays will likely get the money. These aren’t research papers. You’re simply trying to explain why you feel that you deserve the money (or some other general question).
I learned about this when I found out that someone I was dating would spend a weekend writing essays. She would find every relevant scholarship and write essays asking for financial assistance. One year, she received more money than she had to spend on everything college-related. She turned a profit being a student.
I even brought this story up on a podcast once when discussing student finances. The host then confessed that last year, they didn’t give their scholarship away because nobody applied. They had zero candidates for their $1,000 scholarship.
This is why it’s important that you apply for all forms of financial assistance.
Here’s where to look for your options for financial assistance:
- Grants/bursaries/awards offered on your college’s website.
- Scholarship opportunities on campus.
- Third-party scholarships. Many local small businesses will offer scholarships. You may even find out that an employer of a relative is looking for scholarship candidates.
Do whatever you can to land some free money. That one hour spent on writing an essay can earn you hundreds or thousands of dollars. This beats working a minimum wage gig.
Anything on campus.
Most colleges offer many work opportunities. If you check out the job board, you’ll be surprised by the different kinds of job opportunities that exist.
I was hesitant to apply because I thought that I wasn’t qualified enough. Then someone explained to me that these jobs are designed for students so they have to hire students.
This inspired me to apply to be an “Exam Invigilator.” I just randomly applied and was surprisingly accepted.
I was paid to watch people write exams. I was that annoying guy walking around to ensure that nobody cheated.
There are many jobs available on campus, such as :
- Teaching assistant.
- Lab monitor.
- A/V support.
- And many more.
Every school is different so look up the job board to see what kind of work you can land.
Find a program that offers some sort of work terms.
While there are many terrible internships out there where you essentially grab coffee for the office, there are still many great work term opportunities in college.
The trick is to try to get into some sort of a work-term/co-op program.
My friends in engineering did this and were paid well enough to cover the costs of tuition for the upcoming semester. Every work program is different so hopefully your college offers decent ones where you get experience and money. The experience will give you connections in your field so that you have options for life after college.
If you do end up with a crappy internship, at least you’ll get some experience and know what kind of job you won’t want to do.
Something in the service industry.
Many of my classmates worked at coffee shops and bars. They relied on tips to get by. These jobs typically pay students a decent amount of money. You can also work these jobs on the weekends so they don’t interfere with your class schedule.
Grow your own side hustle.
I actually started Studenomics as a college student because I was fed up with taking business classes that didn’t provide any business experience.
College is the best time to test the waters with entrepreneurship. There’s so much demand around campus for random services that you can easily find a way to make money.
Here are a few options for side hustles in college:
- Become a DJ.
- Learn a skill that’s needed around campus. For example, my brother became a barber and was the go-to person for everyone on campus looking for a haircut.
- Host parties.
- Become a tutor.
- Become a textbook broker.
- Start a blog/some sort of social media account where you work on becoming an influencer.
- Manage the social media of a local business that doesn’t know how to use social media.
Many of the best businesses around were started by hungry college students who want to make some money. Use your unlimited energy to work on that business instead of waiting until you graduate.
Here’s a quick recap of how to make money as a student:
- Apply for all forms of financial assistance first. Do this before you look for work just to see how much help you can get.
- Look for work on campus to land a well-paying gig that isn’t too stressful.
- Apply for a work term so that you can get some real-life experience.
- Try something in the service industry on the weekends.
- Work on that side hustle.
How do you manage time and work?
The biggest complaint that I hear when I suggest someone work in college is that they won’t have time to study and that as a result of this, they’re going to fail and drop out.
That’s not always how it works.
Here’s a secret about productivity in college: More time to do work rarely leads to you using this time to actually do work.
We waste a lot of time in college. If I didn’t work on the weekends, it’s highly unlikely that I would’ve used 100% of the time to focus on my studies.
Have you heard of Parkinson’s Law?
“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
When you work, you know that you have to use your spare time wisely. I would study on breaks at work and any other free time that I could find. My grades actually went up in college compared to high school because I knew that I had to take things seriously.
If you do find that your program is too stressful for work, then you can always cut back the hours and focus on applying for financial assistance before the term begins.
On that note…
How much should you work?
Nobody’s saying that you have to put in a 40-hour workweek at a stressful job. It wouldn’t hurt to put in anywhere from 10-20 hours though. The good news is that most campus jobs give you time to study. My friends who worked on campus had plenty of downtime to study.
Working any hours as a student will go a long way. What nobody tells you is that there’s more to college than getting good grades. You’re going to want to meet people, learn how to be a decent employee, and how to manage your time.
The money that you make as a student can also be used to go towards your debt so that you don’t have to finance every aspect of your college experience.