As you’re about to find out in a few short months, tuition fees are just the beginning of the full cost of attending college. After all, there’s a reason why “broke college student” is a term you’ve heard before.
Even if you’re fortunate to have many of your college costs covered by scholarships or your family (thanks, mom!) you’ll want to have some spending money. After all, the college experience isn’t entirely in the classroom. You’ll want to go out with your new friends, travel on spring break, or upgrade your Dollar Store ramen to the two-dollar kind! We’ve gathered our best tips for earning money (and eating well) as a college student that don’t involve hitting up your parents or trawling club meetings for free pizza.
On-campus employment opportunities
This is the easiest place to start. Your college will have multiple opportunities for current students, from working in the library or bookstore, to being a part-time admin for an academic department or the rec center, and more. In addition to these opportunities, if you’re strong academically, you can also become a peer tutor and help your fellow students master subjects you’ve aced. If you’re especially gregarious and are great at walking backwards, you can also be a campus tour guide for eager applicants.
On-campus jobs are ideal because they’re conveniently located where you already spend most of your time, and usually have very flexible schedules to fit around your classes and other commitments. Check out your school’s job board, work-study opportunities, and network with professors to dig up these positions. Best advice: start early! The most coveted jobs fill up long before the semester starts, so start looking (and applying) long before you want to start. You should also consider becoming a campus representative for a brand you love. Many big-name brands like Apple and Spotify look for connected, outgoing students to spread the word about new products and services.
Near-campus employment opportunities
Depending on the location and layout of your college, you may be able to get a part-time job at a cafe, retail store, or office park nearby. Consider what your class schedule is and factor in the time it takes to commute to and from off-campus locations. Non-campus positions may also have longer, or more rigid time commitment requirements, but are another good opportunity to build your work history and gain valuable experience.
Are you an accomplished knitter, baker, or graphic designer? You can monetize your skills by either offering them up on a freelance marketplace, or marketing yourself and your wares to your classmates and campus community. If you’re already everyone’s go-to girl for tech support, or are the editor-in-chief of your dorm’s floor, why not make a few bucks doing it?
Make your school vacations count
You can maximize your earning power during summer vacation, winter break, and spring break. Start your search for summer employment early in your spring semester. Look for positions that may cover room and board as well, such as working in a summer camp. If you live frugally and bank as many hours as you can during your time away from school, you may be able to afford to work much less or not at all during the semester.
You’ll need to balance your school commitments with your work, and remember that you are a student first. Having spending money is great, but not at the expense of your learning and grades, so start small. You can always take on more hours if you’re able to, but don’t overcommit out of eagerness and fail to keep up with your reading and papers. Lastly, take advantage of your school’s career services office, they have resources and contacts that you can leverage during college, as well as after, to snag the perfect job for you.
Are you planning on working during your school semesters? Tell us what you’ll be doing and how you found your job!