23 Totally Flexible Ways to Make Money in College Without Dropping Classes
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Working through college is a key way to reduce the amount of debt you’ll have after graduation.
But a well-paying job you can balance with classes and extracurriculars can be hard to find.
Have you thought about ditching the demanding work schedule and working for yourself instead?
There are tons of fun and weird ways to make money on the side — without cutting into your study time.
1. Get Good Grades
Check with the dean of your college or university to learn what incentives your school has for getting good grades.
Some actually offer cash bonuses to students who maintain a good grade point average!
2. Drive With Uber and Lyft
Need a fun, flexible way to earn money while also meeting lots of new people?
Try driving with Lyft!
Demand for ride-sharing has been growing like crazy, and it shows no signs of slowing down. To be eligible, you’ll need to be at least 21 years old with a year of driving experience, pass a background check and own a car made in 2007 or later.
We talked to Paul Pruce, who’s been driving full-time with Lyft for over a year. He earns $750 a week as a driver.
Best of all, he does it on his own time. You can drive days, nights or weekends — it’s up to you!
Because it’s simple to switch between apps, many Lyft drivers also sign up with Uber.
As a driver partner with Uber, you are an independent contractor. You create your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want.
If you want to give Uber a try here are a few of the things to keep in mind: You must be at least 21 years old, have at least one year of licensed driving experience in the U.S. (three years if you are under 23 years old), have a valid US driver’s license and pass a background check.
Also, your car must be a four-door, seat at least four passengers (excluding the driver), be registered in-state and be covered by in-state insurance.
And if you aren’t sure which is better for you? Here’s our guide to Lyft versus Uber.
3. Share Your Opinions
We’ve talked plenty about earning extra money taking online surveys.
One platform we love is MyPoints. This lets you earn gift cards for taking polls, answering surveys and other things you do online — a great way to cash in on long lines or an endless commute. You’ll earn a $5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.
4. Be a Human Guinea Pig
From medical tests to market research, being a test subject can be an interesting, educational and — above all — lucrative way to spend your time.
Some tests, like clinical trials, may be more taxing and require a greater time commitment.
But some, like market research, may just take a couple hours of your afternoon and earn you free samples and some extra cash.
Keep an eye out on campus for opportunities within your university, too. These are usually quick and might yield $10-$20.
5. Buy and Resell Textbooks
You know you can earn a little cash back for selling your textbooks at the end of the semester.
But you can go beyond that — and actually start profiting from textbook sales.
Instead of relying on your own collection, buy textbooks online at sites like eBay and resell them through Amazon.
With Amazon Trade-In, you can trade in your used textbooks, plus other items, like electronics, in exchange for an Amazon gift card. Enter the item’s information on Amazon's Trade-In page to see how much you could pocket. Shipping is free.
Profit margins aren’t huge on textbook reselling. But if you can average $5 per book and sell five per day, you could earn $750 each month!
You can also buy used books at garage sales to sell online, but it will require a bit more work and bargain hunting.
6. Sell Your Video Game Accounts
If you’re a gamer, try selling your video game accounts on gamer auction sites or eBay.
Tons of popular games like World of Warcraft, Second Life and League of Legends see players making big money selling their accounts.
7. Audit Liquor Stores
“Professional Beer Buyer” might not make your resume, but it’s a pretty awesome job for a college student.
Companies like The Source will pay you to shop local liquor stores undercover.
Just note whether the cashier asks for your ID, and submit a short report on your experience.
To qualify, you’ll normally need to be between 18 and 30 years old, usually under 25. You can earn between $5 and $50 per audit, with the average falling between $20 and $30.
You’re also reimbursed for any purchase you have to make to conduct the audit. Free beer, anyone?
8. Sell Your Notes
Not all campuses are keen on the activity, but lots of students have made money selling notes and study guides to classmates who miss class or need extra help cramming for exams.
If you’re a thorough note-taker, you could earn around $10-$20 per class.
A strong understanding of the subject matter for a complicated course could mean a lot more for study guides.
9. Become a Tutor
Have you ever considered becoming a private tutor?
Look for programs through your university or specific departments where you could get paid to work with other students.
For more flexibility, consider becoming an online tutor.
Through Wyzant.com, you can browse tutoring jobs and set your own rate.
When you connect with a student to offer tutoring services, you get paid!
10. Get Refunds on Your Online Purchases
It turns out deleting your emails could be costing you serious money. Intrigued?
One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts.
If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.
11. Be a Genealogist
Yes, people will pay you to put together their tricky family trees.
Are you already a hobby genealogist or studying the subject in school?
You could charge between $70 to $700 per request, and take on as much or as little work as you can manage.
12. Find Money You Didn’t Know Was Yours
Don’t feel like working for extra money? Find stuff you’ve already earned and forgot about!
Search online to find unclaimed money from retirement accounts you’ve forgotten, old security deposits and more. Check the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website to find out how to search in your home state.
This strategy can only help you find your own misplaced money. If you already keep good track of your cash, you may not find anything new.
13. Be a Virtual Employee
If you want more steady work and income still offering the flexibility you need to get to class and rest after all-nighters, look online.
You can put networking skills to use as a virtual recruiter, connecting employees or freelancers with the right jobs.
You’ll do things like post available jobs, screen resumes, conduct preliminary interviews and negotiate salaries.
Or be a virtual assistant and get paid to use the organization and communication skills you’ve developed to stay on top of schoolwork, classes and extracurriculars.
With more and more professionals diving into freelancing and self-employment, the demand for people to help with data entry, social media management, website maintenance, research and customer service is rising.
Transcribing also requires little to no prior experience, and offers flexible hours and workloads.
The work can be demanding, but the pay is a pretty good selling point: about $15 to $25 per hour for general transcription, and more if you specialize in a legal or medical field.
14. Sell Supplies on Etsy
Even if you hate crafting yourself, Etsy could be a good outlet for selling craft kits and supplies to those who love it.
Tools or supplies to make things circumvent Etsy’s rule that everything in its marketplace must be handmade or vintage. That’s an opportunity for you.
Decide what you’re interested in — maybe you have a little knowledge about cross-stitching or quilting? Maybe you have a lot of friends who make jewelry, so you know what they’re into?
Then look for supplies, kits and patterns at thrift stores and garage sales. You can buy them for bargain prices and resell to crafters on Etsy.
15. Hang out With Dogs or Cats
Love playing with dogs and cats, but can’t have a pet in your tiny apartment or dorm room?
Try getting paid to spend time with other people’s pets!
Dog-walking is the obvious way to earn money caring for your neighbors’ best friends. But there are tons of other ways to get paid to hang out with animals, too.
If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, you could be a dog washer or groomer. If you’ve got a weekend free, you could pet-sit for people when they go out of town.
Connect with seniors or busy pet owners in your area — offer to drive pets to vet or grooming appointments.
You can set up most of these gigs with a bit of networking, word-of-mouth and maybe a few posters around your neighborhood.
16. Braid Horse Manes
Kat Tetrina launched a $1,000-per-month business with zero experience and a $20 kit off the internet — for a pretty odd job.
She works on the weekends braiding horse manes for shows.
If you like working with animals and have at least a little skill French-braiding your own or others’ hair, this could be a fun side gig during your college years.
You’ll find some small shows in the fall and winter months, but spring and summer are the most popular.
And because the work happens almost exclusively on the weekends, you should have no problem fitting it around your class schedule.
17. Do Odd Jobs — the Modern Way
Odd jobs and side gigs are an awesome way to earn extra money without committing to a job or schedule.
You could always find work the old-fashioned way — have your parents ask their friends if they need help with anything.
But modern technology and our infatuation with the sharing economy have made gigs a much more effective way of earning a living.
Use an app like TaskRabbit to connect with people in your area who need help with house-cleaning, assembling furniture or installing a new faucet.
You can use Instacart to shop and delivery groceries to people who don’t have time, resources or ability to do it on their own.
You can earn up to $25 an hour delivering almost anything by car or bike through Postmates, available in about two dozen major U.S. cities.
All you need to get started is your smartphone — and you could start earning money this week.
18. Sell Weird Things on eBay
Did you know you could sell empty boxes on eBay?
What about remote controls? Empty toilet paper rolls? Egg cartons?
Just about anything you have lying around is probably valuable to someone. Auction sites like eBay help you find them.
If you haven’t accumulated a lot of junk of your own (good for you!), look outside. Depending on your climate, you could sell pine cones, seashells or driftwood to crafters who can’t find these in their own backyards.
19. Get Paid to Exercise
Are you walking around campus counting steps on your Fitbit all day?
You could be earning cash for that!
Bottom line: HealthyWage will literally pay you for losing weight.
Not only are you getting more healthy, you’re also making some money. How’s that for motivation?
Here’s how it works:
- Read our full HealthyWage review, and sign up.
- Define a goal weight and the amount of time you’ll give yourself to achieve it.
- Place a bet on yourself ranging from $20 to $500 a month.
Depending on how much you have to lose, how long you give yourself to do it and how much money you put on the table, you could win up to $10,000!
Wondering if it can really work? We talked to one woman, Teresa Suarez, who lost 68 pounds — and made over $2,400.
20. Clean Trash Cans
Washing garbage cans isn’t going to be a glamorous job.
In fact, as this woman puts it, it’s “downright dirty.” But it helped her earn more than $100 in an afternoon.
Most people don’t think about cleaning their trash cans. They just put them on the curb and steer clear of the foul smell.
But they can’t ignore it forever.
So when you — a young, able-bodied neighborhood do-gooder — shows up and offers to rid them of the stench, they’ll probably take you up on the offer.
It may be dirty and smelly, but the job is fairly simple and a quick way to earn some money in your spare time.
21. Be on Your Favorite TV Show
Do you watch “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune” every afternoon and feel like you’d crush the contestants?
You can be part of these shows more easily than you might think, and it can be a cool way to boost your budget.
Read our full guide to becoming a game show contestant for details on joining “Jeopardy!,” “Wheel of Fortune,“ “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,“ “Celebrity Name Game,“ “Let’s Make a Deal,“ “Family Game Night,“ “The Price Is Right“ and more.
If you’re more into scripted TV, read about how to become an extra in one of the most popular shows on the air: “The Walking Dead.”
22. Claim Class-Action Settlements
It may not be the first thing on your mind, but class-action lawsuits are a simple way to make some extra money on the side.
You’re probably already part of a class-action suit you don’t even know about. They come up more often than you might realize.
We share open settlements here when we hear about them, so keep an eye out.
To file a claim, you’ll usually just have to fill out an online form. Some settlements also require proof of purchase of a relevant product or service.
23. Resell Board Game Pieces
You know those tossed-aside, falling-apart, missing-pieces games everyone passes up at the thrift store?
They could mean money for you.
Spend the few bucks on an old game, and turn around and sell some of the valuable pieces to people who are trying to keep their own sets intact.
One clever Penny Hoarder made $250 in six months selling board game pieces.
Not all games are created equal. Look for limited edition or special themed games. These are the ones collectors want to make whole.
Think “Lord of the Rings” Monopoly or “Harry Potter” Chess. Some vintage game pieces are highly profitable, too.
Dana Sitar ([email protected]) is a writer and editor at The Penny Hoarder. Say hi and tell her a good joke on Twitter @danasitar.