To say college is expensive is an understatement. It’s not just tuition and rent; it’s the last-minute expenses that always seem to pop up and blow your budget. Not only that, but it can be challenging to manage a part-time job when you have an inconsistent schedule. After all, you often don’t know your class schedule until the semester begins. Last-minute study sessions, extracurricular activities, and office hours can make managing a schedule extra challenging.
That’s why side hustles can be so convenient in college. Unlike a part-time job, you can pick them up when they work for you, and you can do them on your time. But they can also be challenging to sift through. Plus, there are tons of scams on social media preying on college students. These ads might promise thousands of dollars in exchange for taking surveys, browsing websites, or generally doing whatever you’re already doing on your phone.
But in many cases, these are too good to be true. The same is true for influencer campaigns. While some people do well making money by creating content on social media, influencing can quickly become a full-time job. It can take a lot of time, effort, and energy to build an account to the point where marketers pay money for posts — not an option when you need to make money relatively quickly.
Here, some ideas for the best — fastest — side hustles to earn money for college.
1. Talk with your advisor and ask around
One of the easiest ways to earn money for college is to not have to pay as much tuition in the first place. Think you’ve missed the boat on scholarships because you’re an upperclassman or grad student? Think again. There are many college scholarships catering to all types of students. Your advisor may know specific scholarships for people studying in the same field as you. The financial aid office and career development office may also have thoughts. You can also search for scholarships through databases like Scholarships360.com, which can help refine your searches based on your demographics and fields of study.
The Career Development Office can also be a valuable place to find out about part-time jobs that may be flexible. These can double as resume builders. For example, if you’re a marketing major, maybe there are alums who have a small business that needs help with their website copy or need someone to field email inquiries. Or perhaps a senior citizen needs assistance to run errands once or twice a week. These jobs may not be advertised on any websites, so you might need to ask around to find them.
2. Donate your eggs
Egg donation can be a meaningful way to make a difference in the lives of a family while also earning a lump sum of money that can be applied to college tuition and other college expenses. Donors can donate multiple times as well.
The process of egg donation is relatively straightforward. You apply online, submitting a medical questionnaire and answering a few questions about yourself. You’ll then have an in-person evaluation, where you can also ask any questions about the process. Then, the donation cycle will begin. The active part of the cycle takes about a month, where you’ll be coming in regularly for monitoring every day for about two weeks. Then, the procedure is an outpatient procedure under anesthesia, and you can return to work or school the next day.
There is no right or wrong answer as to whether egg donation suits you. Reading about donor experiences and asking any questions you may have can all help you decide whether egg donation might be right for you.
3. Use a freelance work platform
Platforms like Upwork and Fiverr are freelance marketplaces that allow you to bid on jobs. These jobs may be copywriting, graphic design, and other things that can be done virtually from your laptop. Again, ask friends and mentors for their thoughts. While you might get paid more finding these jobs on your own, doing so can be time-consuming. Plus, these platforms often have guardrails in place to make sure you get paid by the client when you complete work.
4. Find a nanny or petsitting gig
Parents (of both children and furry friends) often look for reliable sitters with flexible schedules. And being a sitter may not be what you remember in high school. Some working professionals may be looking for someone who can walk their dog midday or feed their cat when they are on an overnight trip. Parents might be looking primarily for a nanny who can watch their kid after school for a few hours or drive their children to school in the morning. Care.com and Rover.com are great places to look for sitting gigs. And it can be helpful to set your parameters: Do you only want to work with kids that are a certain age? Do you not want to sit on weekends but are happy to take on daytime gigs? The more concrete you are about your availability, the more you can tailor your profile, so the right potential clients find you.
5. Sell online
Selling things online can be lucrative. It can also be time-consuming. But if you like the process of styling, taking photos, and packaging goods, then selling on Poshmark or eBay can be lucrative. Don’t have a ton of stuff to sell? Consider helping your friends sell their stuff for a commission.
6. Become a tutor
From kids in your neighborhood who need SAT support to people worldwide who may need help brushing up on their English skills, tutoring can happen in real life or virtually and can be a great way to make extra money. And you don’t need to have been a star student. Communication skills are the most essential in helping bring someone to the next level. There are online tutoring platforms where you can take a test for subject-matter expertise and then become a part-time tutor, working on your schedule.
If you like kids, you can also consider making a course on a platform like Outschool. From teaching kids how to draw to hosting virtual dance lessons, you can use your skills to connect with families looking for instructors across various activities.
Your dream side hustle may not be online. Sometimes, it pays to connect with the people in your community and find out what they need. For example, say you were a dancer in high school. Find the local dance schools and ask if they need a part-time instructor. Maybe they can use you as a regular substitute or need someone to run their social media accounts. It can be helpful to walk around your college town and think about the small businesses that excite you or where you can see your skills fitting in. The local theater may need a part-time box office manager, or a luxury apartment building may be looking for a part-time leasing assistant or need someone to be a substitute concierge. Some of these jobs may primarily be filled by word of mouth, so talking to people in your community, letting them know you’re available, and following up on some of their recommendations and ideas can be a great way to find an amazing side hustle for college and beyond.