College is the perfect time to try out different side hustles. Obviously, you’re busy with classes and studying but other than that there are no real obligations outside of those you create. Additionally, one could argue that college students have the most spare-time out of any demographic. High school students are in class for 8 hours a day and most adults work 9am-5pm. College students, on the other hand, generally only have 3-4 hours of mandatory class per day depending on their schedule.
In addition to having free time, college students generally don’t have to deal with paying rent, filing taxes, insurance, raising kids, or the other 100 things that pop up once you graduate. For this article, we will assume that college students’ only responsibility is class and that most expenses (room/board, tuition, meal plan) are covered through student loans.
This makes college the perfect time to experiment with side hustles because you have the time, energy, and opportunity. Speaking of opportunity, college campuses are gold mines for money-making opportunities. There are a few reasons why.
- College kids generally have less immediate financial obligations (healthcare, rent, etc.) as most of their living expenses are covered by loans.
- Most college kids are usually bored and looking to fill their free time.
- Most universities have 5,000-15,000 students on average and a few have much more than that. That’s quite a few potential customers.
- University campuses have tons of resources available including libraries, experienced professors, all types of clubs, etc..
In this article, we will examine a few of the traditional side hustles you can work while in college as well as some more creative ideas. Here are the Best Side Hustles To Try In College
We’re not talking about working at the Starbucks on campus (not that there’s anything wrong with that) but local employment opportunities offered by the university itself. Most universities will offer a variety of employment opportunities that are only available to students such as:
- Working in administrative offices (Dean’s Office, Admissions, Financial Aid)
- Teaching Assistant
- Graduate Assistant
- Paid internships with athletic, marketing, social media, or other departments
Every university is a little different and uses different tools but these opportunities can usually be found in the same online portal that you would use to check grades, holiday schedules, or financial aid.
The reason that we like these employment opportunities more than working at a company like Starbucks is mainly due to the connections you can make. For example, working as a Teaching Assistant you will be working closely with experienced professors for the entire year and have the opportunity to learn from them and network. Not to mention, the pay will be relatively similar to what you’d be making from a traditional job anyway.
Sharing Economy Jobs
Sharing economy jobs are perfect for just about everyone but especially for college students. If you’re not familiar with the sharing economy, it’s an economic system in which assets or services are shared amongst private individuals usually through the internet. These are jobs like driving for Uber, walking dogs on Rover, or freelancing your skills on Fiverr.
The reason we like sharing economy jobs for college students is that they can usually be worked at any point in the day. This means that you can earn cash around your class schedule even as it changes from semester to semester.
Another reason to start a sharing economy job (especially for freelancing work on Fiverr) is that it gives you the opportunity to profit off of new skills that you’re learning. The whole point of being in school is to learn new skills and knowledge. While you’re learning, you might as well put those skills to work and get paid on the side!
If you want to find all of the sharing economy opportunities in your area, check out Steady. They help you find Gig work in your area and recently got a new investment from basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal.
Starting A Business (selling shirts, hosting events)
As we mentioned, college campuses are gold mines for opportunity. So many major businesses got their start while their founders were in college that it’s hard to keep track.
- Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg while he was at Harvard.
- Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford.
- Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen at Harvard.
- Reddit was founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian at the University of Virginia.
- Time Magazine was launched by Britton Hadden and Henry Luce as the first weekly magazine in the U.S.
- Snapchat was founded by Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy at Stanford.
- WordPress was founded by Matt Mullenweg while at the University of Houston.
- Napster was founded by Shawn Fanning while at Northeastern.
- Dell was founded by Michael dell while at Texas University.
- Insomnia Cookies was founded by Seth Berkowitz while at the University of Pennsylvania.
You get the idea.
The point is that college is the perfect time to experiment with a new business because there is very little downside risk. If the business fails then it’s not like you will get evicted from your dorm or will automatically fail a class. There is no reason not to try! Most businesses start as a side project or something that’s just “for fun” anyway.
Additionally, university campuses are the perfect environments to start businesses. You have easy access to free consultation from professors, support from your friend groups, and a highly populated area to market your business.
That said, most of the above businesses are tech companies. We understand that not everyone is going to be able to code the next Snapchat from their dorm room as a side hustle. So let’s take a look at a few examples of businesses that are much easier to start but can be just as lucrative.
- Sell at a farmers market – Most college campuses will have some type off onsite farmers market. What types of crafts, baked goods, or artwork can you create that people would want to buy? If you have the perfect craft idea but your campus lacks a farmers market, put your product on Etsy, Shopify, or Amazon FBA.
- Host a seminar – In his book the 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss talks about one of his ventures earlier on in life where he hosted a Speed Reading Seminar. He launched this in (you guessed it!) college and would borrow empty classrooms to host it in. He promoted it by putting up signs around campus and charged students $50 to attend. What type of unique skill do you have that others would be interested in learning? If you hate public speaking, you don’t even need to host a physical seminar. Create an online course and post it on UDemy, YouTube, or a similar site.
- Create and sell t-shirts – This is a classic college side hustle. Students have been creating and selling relevant t-shirts since the concept of higher education was invented. One of the most successful t-shirts ever was the “Catholic Vs. Convicts” shirts before a football game featuring Miami and Notre Dame. Two students made plenty of money selling these shirts before the game and it got so big that another student trademarked the phrase and made close to $100,000 total. Not bad for a college t-shirt!
- Create products around campus events – On that same note, that idea doesn’t need to be pigeonholed into just t-shirts for football games. What other types of products could you create that people would find valuable or be interested in? There is an abundance of events/teams/clubs/sports on college campuses that could all be sold to.
- Host events – If it’s too much of a hassle to create a product or if you don’t consider yourself much of a salesman/woman, consider hosting events. Along the same lines of Tim Ferriss, a story came out recently of Elon Musk turning his apartment into a nightclub to help him pay rent. Events don’t just happen. Someone has to plan and execute them. Be the person who plans and executes them and then charge people to attend.
- Profit off of people’s laziness – Let’s be honest, lots of college students are lazy. And you know what’s hard? Passing class. In particular, finals. You’d be surprised at desperate students willingness to pay for things like study guides, flashcards, final reviews, practice tests, etc. Be the person who is on top of their studies and then help other students do the same. For a fee, of course.
As the entire goal of college is to learn new things, there are quite a few ways you can make money by helping others learn. You can go either through the university to find work, use external resources, or even set up your own business. Let’s take a look.
Tutoring is most easily done through the university (the same place you’d apply for an on-campus job). This way they can handle all of your scheduling for you and you don’t need to travel far to meet your clients. One of the main reasons that we like tutoring as a side hustle is because you have the ability to set your own rates. By learning the more difficult subject matter yourself, you have the opportunity to increase your intrinsic value as a tutor and charge more per session. A tutor who helps students with actuarial science will get paid more than a tutor for English 101.
There are also no rules that say you have to go through the university! Hang up flyers and reach out to friends letting them know that you’re willing to offer help. You can easily start tutoring from your dorm room, the library, or vacant classrooms.
There’s no rule that says you need to tutor kids on your own campus. Kids across America are all taking the same courses and lots are looking for additional help.
-Udemy is a great platform that helps 24 million students globally and has 35,000 instructors. It’s super easy to become an instructor and post your lessons to their site.
-Wyzant is another platform for online tutoring that boats that their tutors have earned a collective $64 million.
-VIPKid is great if you maybe you haven’t taken a lot of accelerated courses. On VIPKid, you can earn up to $22/hour to teach english to younger kids in foreign countries.
Let’s be honest, lots of college students are lazy. And you know what’s hard? Passing class. In particular, finals. You’d be surprised at desperate students willingness to pay for things like study guides, flashcards, final reviews, practice tests, etc. Be the person who is on top of their studies and then help other students do the same. For a fee, of course.
The best part is that there are even sites where you can get paid to post your study guides or class notes.
–Course Hero is one of the main marketplaces for buying/selling notes and even breaks it down by university. This could be a good option if you go to a smaller university, since detailed notes might not be posted yet.
-Stuvia is another great marketplace for posting notes online.
And of course, you don’t even need to go online at all as some of your best customers might be sitting in class next to you. Create a thorough study guide ahead of tests/finals and let everyone know that you’re selling it. Especially in large lecture classes, you could easily sell a $10 study guide to 20-30 kids in your class and make a couple hundred dollars.
We hope that you found this helpful if you’re having trouble finding new side hustles to start in college. These are just some initial ideas to get the ball rolling. There really is an unlimited number of opportunities out there to make money in college. Just start thinking about what your classmates need or consume and think about how/what you could offer them. Good luck!