Are you a college student looking for ways to earn money while in school? In this article, I’m going to be sharing with you three ways that I made money in college. Hopefully, you get a few ideas for inspiration in the case where you find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to make some money in college.
Side hustle #1: Sign up for free surveys
So the first thing I used to do when I was back in college years ago at this point is I would go sign up for free surveys that were on campus that were getting paid to just do simple, different experiments.
Oftentimes, you will find this in psychology departments, as well as some of the business programs at your university, in which you’re trying to understand consumer behaviors and what you may do when you find yourself in a particular situation. So in the case where you haven’t already done, so you can check out the research departments on your university’s campus and you will often find these sorts of opportunities.
That being said, I can’t say that these were super big money makers. It was just something in which I would try to do them for a couple of hours every single week, make some extra money from there and then use it for just some leisure spending. Typically, at that point in time, I always getting paid for anything from $7 to $20 for anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to even sometimes an hour long experiment.
So it’s really great in general, for something that’s super casual that you can just sign up for, get on a list serve. And then from there show up at your own volition in terms of when the lab is collecting some experiments. Pros of this first approach, it’s super casual and something that you can do on your own schedule. I was able to make a couple of bucks here and there for. Cons of the schedule, not super reliable as well. You never really know which studies are going to come up and it’s by no means going to actually covering your rent or some other larger expenses for you when it comes to college.
Side hustle #2: Tutoring
The second thing that I used to actually do in college is I used to tutor other students as well, whether it was other college students, or it was actually high school or middle school students in the local area.
What I would do is I would post out listings in terms of some of the subjects that I felt really confident in and then share my qualifications. I’ve actually dug more deeply into this in terms of how to run a tutoring business and giving you a couple of steps that you can follow to set one up for yourself.
But pretty much, this was just something that I would be able to do at my own time as well, because I would try to line it up with where I had gaps, where I didn’t have classes and I also didn’t need to study or do some other social event.
The great thing about tutoring college is that there’s often so many opportunities for you beyond just what you may have done when you were back in high school. When you’re in high school, you’re kind of limited to some of the core subjects like teaching the SAT, the ACT and all those different tests that you have to take. But when you’re in college as well, you can actually tutor other fellow students too, in which there are going to be some students that are struggling for example, in understanding economics 101 or understanding combinatorics or whatever it is that you are really good at.
So it’s really great for you to just find the local bulletin board for the different departments, where you feel really strong in, create a simple sort of flyer where they can learn more about you or have a QR code that you can stick and they can scan to learn more about your services. And then from there, start to build your book of business.
This a big pro tip for you is to try to make your first five customers incredibly happy with your services over deliver every single time, whether that’s by giving them more time, giving them more supplemental exercises outside of your touring session, or just in general, being an awesome tutor that gets results for them.
You will often find that these people will be the first ones to then refer their friends to you for more additional business. It’s also great in the case where you are tutoring local kids in your area because in many cases, parents are very talkative with one another and they’ll be more than willing to share your services if you’re getting their students the results as well.
The great pro to this approach is that number one, it is also still super flexible. It’s something where you are setting the hours of when the sessions are happening. And number two, it is something in which you’re able to command a much higher rate than the first method, in which in many cases you can charge anywhere from $40 up for an hour of tutoring, depending on where you’re respectively based out of. In some cases I was charging anywhere upwards of $75 or a little bit more than that, depending on the subject. I think at that point in time, I was charging between 60 and $80 an hour for some of the more college-level courses.
So really great in terms of being able to set your own rate, as well as your own hour. The downside to this, well in the case where you get really good results, it might end up being the case where your student doesn’t really need as much tutoring anymore. So you have to actually be building up your book of business.
You have to actively be finding places to post your services and drive new business, whether that is connecting with some of the important professors of different departments that you feel really confident in tutoring, or just in general, building up relationships at the local high schools or middle school areas by doing some free volunteering or things like that to build up relationships.
So in summary method, number two, tutoring in your local area can be a great side hustle, especially for a college student that might be managing a course load as well. And then the third method that I’d recommend for you if you have the chops behind it is to create a business on your college’s campus.
Side hustle #3: Storage and shipping needs for students
This is something that is so much more powerful than all the other methods and it’s something in which I was fortunate to join one of the most successful student runs storage and shipping companies at my university’s campus. And so we did over a quarter million in revenue every single year. This took the co-founders of this business several years to get off the ground.
But it was something in which by a few years in, they were generating over a quarter million dollars a year in revenue for this business. And they were meeting the storage and shipping needs of over a thousand students on our campus. So just to show you kind of the high upside here, what they did is they found a local warehouse that they could rent for a few months at a time. And then what they did was they hired students on campus, as well as some temp workers to actively create storage and shipping opportunities for students.
What you’ll find is that a lot of people have shipping and storage needs of especially when it comes to the summer. They’re going off for summer break. They need their things in the fall, but they don’t want to necessarily bring it all the way back home if they’re coming out from out of state. And so in many cases, students will have to resort to really bad services hosted by major conglomerates like UPS or FedEx, or just other stores that aren’t really efficient when it comes to providing the specific needs to the college campus that you might be operating on.
So in the case where you want a business that doesn’t really require all that much upfront capital, what you can do is you can start really small by just potentially corralling a network of your friends who are able to take some things over the course of a summer and store that for different students on campus.
In fact, one of my roommates did this business on a super small scale in which what he did is he stored some things in his apartment over the summer for 10 or 15 different students. And they were all paying him a couple of hundred dollars every single month.
So it’s really great business because all you need is really to find the space to do so. But from there, what you can do is you can offer a service that is really needed every single year and is largely predictable.
Over time, as you grow the business, you can get into other things, for example, for this storage and shipping company, they also sold boxes and supplies for students when it came to packing up their things.
And over time, what you’ll realize is that there’s a whole another operation side of things that you can do to really scale this business up. In fact, you can even see some entrepreneurs on YouTube that have done really well in this space in the last few years.
Nick Huber from Sweaty Startup is actually one guy who’s done this really well. He started with his storage and shipping company at Cornell University and then gradually scale it out to different university campuses by scaling out the model.
In terms of strengths of this third method, pros, you really become an owner of a business at is repeatedly going to have demand for you. And it’s highly seasonal. So oftentimes, this business that I worked for was only really active in the fall and in the summer. So that’s really great because you can actually plan ahead in terms of all the things you need to do, and you can make all of your money in two major spurs of the year, as opposed to having work on something every single week, like in tutoring or in the research studies.
Number two, there is something in which you get a lot of upside. When you are providing a sort of professional service, what you are able to do is you’re able to charge a higher amount for those services. For example, if you get in touch with all the best sororities and fraternities on your college’s campus, well, now you have a great pool of candidates who are likely going to have the wallets to pay for summer storage.
And also they’re going to have multi hundred dollars orders for you if you were to start converting some of those people. And so it really has higher upside of leverage than some of the first two methods.
In terms of cons for this approach, number one, it is way harder to get started, right? It requires a lot more upfront planning and effort. And then number two, there are way more things that you have to keep in mind. For example, you should form an LLC for this sort of business. You should look into getting some contracts settled in place before you start actually executing on these services. But the upside is so much greater in which in this particular situation, the co-founders of the business that I worked for, they were generating over a quarter million dollars in revenue, every single from this business that largely was only active for about four weeks every single year as well.
In the case where you don’t want to create a storage and shipping company, you can also make a smaller scale operation. One of my old college roommates, he actually started a printing business where he bought a laser printer and he realized that in the engineering department, there were these reports that needed to be printed and bound every single quarter.
So the reason why he recognized this opportunity was because he was actually an engineering student and he had to get this report bound every single quarter and he was paying an arm and a leg for that from the professional printing services in his area. And so over time, he was able to build up a huge book of business in which that professor was sending all of his students to him instead of the professional printing shop, which ultimately didn’t make that big of a difference for the printing shop, but it was great for my roommate because he was making a couple of thousand dollars every single quarter just from all of these orders.
If you liked this article, be sure to check out my YouTube channel to get new videos every single week. I’ll help take you from zero to self-starter as you grow your business, get more customers, and hone your business acumen. Also, feel free to share this with anybody that you think might benefit from learning how to make money as a college student.