This College Student Made $6K Doing Something She Had to Do Anyway

Note taker

It’s no secret: College is expensive. And I’m not just talking about tuition.

If you don’t have a meal plan (and even if you do), there are groceries to buy, laundry quarters to scrounge up and basic necessities that always seem to run out each month.

Unless you go to a school with free tuition that also hands out a monthly allowance, you’d probably benefit from a little extra money.

In college, I was always on the lookout for ways to make more money that didn’t interfere with my jam-packed class schedule and extracurriculars. The pickings were slim, at best: I sold plasma, took a job as a late-night bartender and spent many weekends babysitting.

Maybe I donated too much plasma or spent one too many nights behind the bar until 3 a.m., but the schedule left me feeling run down, and my grades were beginning to suffer.

Yes, I was making decent money — but at what cost?

There had to be a more flexible way to put some spending money in my pocket that fit into my 12-credit-hour schedule, right?

As luck would have it, there was.

Taking Notes for Cash

When a classmate needed to run home for a family emergency, I offered to share my notes with her when she got back.

And you know what? Not only was she super appreciative, she found my study guides so helpful, she suggested I sign up to be a note taker for the school.  

Until then, I didn’t even know such a job existed.

But it did, and it was the perfect way to earn extra money for doing something I would do anyway: Go to class, pay attention and take notes.

The school’s Disability Resource Center paid students per credit hour to take notes and upload them once a week for students who couldn’t make it to class or needed extra help.

I earned about $300 a semester as a school note taker. Although it wasn’t a ton of cash, it was a great way to afford necessities without interfering with my academics.

Plus, when you’re a college student living on a tight budget, you start learning all sorts of ways to stretch your money.

The gig opened my eyes to the possibility of being a professional note taker.

A quick check of my school’s honor code — which addressed important issues like plagiarism and cheating — provided the information I needed to ethically and responsibly operate my on-campus note selling business.

I started selling weekly lecture notes ($5), chapter outlines ($5) and study guides ($10) on campus.

Strategically placed flyers on lecture hall bulletin boards and a little social media marketing helped me make several sales each week.

While I sold a couple of outlines and study guides during the semester, my sales always jumped the week leading up to a big exam.

In a 16-week semester, not counting exam week, I earned about $800 — an extra $50 a week, on average, between notetaking for the school and personal sales.

During my seven semesters as a note taker, I earned a grand total of $6,000!

How to Become a Professional Note Taker

Stop by your school’s resource office to see if Disability Services or a similar department has a program where you can sign up as a note taker.

On average, you can expect to earn $25-$50 per credit hour for each class you’re approved for taking notes.

To take your business further, consider using an online note taking marketplace to sell guides and outlines to a much larger audience:

While each site operates a bit differently, the premise is the same: Go to class, take amazing notes, upload them and sit back and wait for sales to roll in.

Some sites, like Luvo, take a percentage of your earnings. Others, like OneClass, pay a flat weekly rate.

What Makes a Good Note Taker?

Whether you decide to be an official note taker through your school, sell notes on your own or use one of the popular marketplaces, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind.

Keep it Original

Only sell original work you created.

Never offer copies of homework, professor-created presentations or other course handouts for sale — ever.

Go to Class

You’re not going to make any money if you don’t to class and take notes.

This is especially true if you’re working for your school — you’ll only get paid for the weeks you actually upload notes.

Stay Organized

Some of the best notes condense complex information into snippets using keywords and short sentences.

Keep it simple and neat.

Be Yourself

Write in your own style.

Don’t attempt to jot down everything the lecturer says, verbatim. Your peers will appreciate outlines and guides from a student’s perspective — like they were actually in class.

Being a paid note taker not only provided extra money, it helped me improve my GPA. When you become a professional note taker, you’ll find your own study habits improve, as well as your grades.

So, if you’re looking for a flexible way to make extra income in college and also become a better student, sign up to be a note taker and get paid to pay attention in class.

Your Turn: How did you make extra money in college?

Blogger at Work from Home Happiness, freelance writer and gig economy enthusiast, Ashlee Anderson enjoys helping others think outside the cubicle and find happiness in working on their own terms.