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Paying for College - Best (Paying) Jobs For Full Time College Students

Updated on April 8, 2013

Great College Jobs

With the recession still in at least partial-swing and the job market hard to penetrate even for graduates, you may be wondering just how to get a job while in school. More importantly, how will you find a flexible job? How will you find a job that will allow you to balance work with being a full-time student?

In my experience great jobs for college students fall into one of two categories: (A) Jobs that pay enough to allow you to work a limited number of hours, or (B) Jobs that allow you to complete schoolwork while on the job.

Which Category of Job Would You Rather Hold?

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Category A – High Paying

In this first category it might seem like options such as drug trafficking, selling your term papers, or buying alcohol for freshman are your only options. But I’m going to suggest you stick to more legal endeavors, or your degree won’t be worth anything anyway.

Some well-paying jobs I, or friends of mine, have held include: teaching private swim lessons ($10-$30/hour), tutoring ($25/hour or more), or babysitting (anywhere from $8-$20/hour depending on your location, the number of kids and your ability to work with special needs children).

You could also use your own ideas and talents to market a needed service on your campus or in the larger community. Late night taxi? Errand running service? Cooking for lazy (and rich) students? Chances are many skills you already have could be transferred into a lucrative market if you think hard enough. A freshmen girl on my campus even made money by waxing people’s eyebrows. Really, anything goes. Just remember that your campus may have rules about running a business, so check into any policies before getting yourself in trouble.

Category B – Paid to study?

This second category may seem initially allusive, but I believe it is the easier of the two categories to find jobs in. Many on-campus jobs, and some off-campus opportunities will fit the criteria of allowing some study time while at work.

On campus options could include working in the college library, checking ID cards at the dining hall or at your dorm's security desk, or working as a Resident Assistant.

There are several options off-campus as well - working as an after-school nanny will let you study alongside the kids, and evening babysitting jobs will provide time for homework once your young charges head to bed. You could also study while housesitting or petsitting, or by working the overnight "awake" shift in a residential care facility. Another option would be a job related to your field of study which provided valuable experience to supplement your courses - for example an education major working as a tutor or in an afterschool program.

So How Do I Find this Good Student-Friendly Job?

If you are creative, you’ll likely find that there are more job options in your community than you realized. The traditional classifieds or are a great place to look for more traditional jobs, but Craigslist, on campus jobs, and websites like SitterCity or Nannies 4 Hire, provide even more avenues for searching for a job. Plus Craigslist and similar sites often include people looking for help with odd jobs, or one time gigs which can be helpful if you're in need of a flexible schedule or some quick cash.

A Few Words of Final Advice

Be Creative, and Diversify Your Income Sources - Throughout college I received free housing and a discounted meal plan as an RA. Paid for books and groceries with the money I earned teaching swim lessons (at $18/hour) and earned some pocket money with lots of babysitting (usually around $15/hour). I didn't have one set "job," but I did have enough money to cover my expenses, a flexible schedule, and the opportunity to network with lots of different people both on-campus and in my larger community, who became great sources of references after I graduated.

Take Advantage of Summer - Work your butt of all summer long to give yourself a little wiggle room during the semester. The fact that I worked 50 or 60 hours a week all summer allowed me to bank some extra for when things got hectic. The extra cash I saved up before the semester began allowed me to take off time from work during exams, or say no to that extra early Friday morning lifeguarding shift that I knew would cut into enjoying a night out with my roommates. We all need money, but when semester time rolls around, try to remember that as a full-time student, school is your job!

Don't Forget Those Scholarships - It's true. Scholarships are not a job (although if you're a senior in high school, I would certainly suggest you view applying for scholarship as your job!), but the more scholarships you have the more of that job money you can keep in your pocket or apply toward other bills instead of tuition. Check out my other Paying For College hub, all about your scholarship search.


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    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      Thanks Victoria Lynn. I definitely worked in the summer, but unfortunately still took out lots of loans. If I did it over again, I definitely would have worked even more in the summers and weekends so I wouldn't be so in debt now!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      All great advice! I worked my butt off during the summers and most weekends to pay my expenses, along with the grants and scholarships. It wasn't easy, but I made it!!

    • profile image

      ElleBee 4 years ago

      Wow crafty, sounds like that was a great situation for both your son and for the student! Hopefully you'll be able to have her work with you again next summer. Great chance for her to put her degree to work even before she finished earning it, and for your son to get to attend lego camp.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      My son went to camp for special needs children all summer. He had a full-day aide and she was a college student. When I decided to enroll him in a late afternoon lego camp following the day camp, she agreed to work with him there too because no other private aides were available. She is in her second year of college and is going to be a history teacher. She made money and my son loved her because she is young and had enough energy to keep up with him!

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      Yes work study jobs aren't always the greatest for actually giving you money! I was pretty naïve about a lot of this when I was in school, started to catch on a little my junior and senior years, but I don't think I ever quite realised the value of being an RA until after I quit!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are excellent ideas about earning money while you are in college. I was so young and naïve, I didn't think about my options at all - I simply let the school decide on a work study for me. It was fine, but it did not let me study at all, and didn't provide a great deal of money. Voted up.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      Yes the double duty jobs are great! I spent lots of time doing homework while on RA duty, and also managed to fit in some reading during the early bird lifeguarding shift (only while the pool was empty of course!). And that lifeguarding job also meant free membership to a local gym, which had waaaaaaaaaay more lap swimming hours than the pool on campus.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

      Great Hub. When I was in college I had a lot of jobs that served dual purposes - I was an RA like you mentioned, which meant I got housing as well. I worked for Campus Dining and got free food long with wages. And I was an editor for the school newspaper, which earned me class credits as well.