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Melissa Brock

Melissa Brock

Writer & Blogger

My name is Melissa and I’m a longtime admission professional, personal finance writer, editor  and parent of two (very!) busy kiddos. I couldn’t make it all happen without my husband, Steve.

I hatched my site because I’ve heard so many head-scratching questions from parents. I’ve journeyed in the footsteps of hundreds of families, trekked to dozens of college fairs and even weighed the (billions?) of college savings options for my own two kiddos.

How to Make Money in College — for Parents!

by | Apr 17, 2020 | College Money Tips | 0 comments

Your kiddo might be tired of hunting for change every time he needs to get groceries. Worse, he might be calling you for money!

College might be the most scrape-the-bottom-of-the-barrel time of your child’s life, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some ideas for how to make money in college — whether your child needs a long-term gig or just wants to make a quick buck.

How to make money in college — for parents? Whaaa?
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1. Encourage your child to get a job.

Cramming a job into an already-packed student schedule may seem like a daunting task, but college students all over the U.S. have jobs.

Part-timers more commonly have jobs than full-time students. The percentage of undergraduate students who were employed in 2017 was higher among part-time students (81 percent) than full-time students (43 percent), according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

How to Get a Job

Help your student consider the types of industries that might be a fit. A part-time job might help him work his way up to a full-time job after he graduates — so don’t underestimate that night-and-weekend gig.

He can even consider the right industry and which jobs fit his personality. You can be a great help here — you may recognize qualities in him that he may not even know about: (“Really, you think I’m good at caring for kids? Gee, thanks, Mom!”)

Here are a few industries to consider that are almost always hiring: 

  • Service 
  • Information
  • Health care
  • Finance and insurance
  • Real estate
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Agriculture

Look online for jobs in your area and encourage your child to check in with his college’s human resources office.

Can you guess the best method for getting a job? That’s right — use connections! Tap into your own connections at work and in groups to which you belong. Your network may be considerably wider than your student’s.

2. Suggest that your kiddo get an internship.

Your kiddo’s college and career center should be bursting with internship information. Of course, he’ll want to look for paid opportunities. A career center coordinator should be able to dig up internships that aren’t even on your radar. These ideas should all center around what could benefit your child’s future career.

Your student could also consider reaching out to the alumni office at her college — alumni are always super excited to help youngsters from their alma mater.

How to Get an Internship

Here are a few steps your kiddo can take to get an internship. When necessary, have her enlist the college’s career center for help during any steps.

  1. Get that resume in order. Maybe your son or daughter will let you read it over to make sure it’s in good shape.
  2. Make sure your kiddo writes a cover letter. It’s easy to get lazy and not write a cover letter. A cover letter is a must-do because it helps your child stand out among a pool of other interns (who may not have written a cover letter!) Make sure your child’s cover letter is in great shape (if he’ll let you read it).
  3. Choose a few different internship possibilities. Your student may have found a few options online or a good connection through the alumni office or the college or career center. Make sure your child applies for several internships — holding out for just one option may not work out.
  4. Make sure he asks two or three people to be references. Your student may not realize it, but he must ask people to be references and make sure their contact information is accurate. 
  5. Cross your fingers. You can’t hang over your child’s shoulder all the time. Hopefully, he double-checks a company’s online portal to make sure every part of the application is correct. 
  6. Get the right outfit for the interview. (You might be on the hook for the funds for that.)
  7. Help your child understand basic interview etiquette. Shake hands with everyone, go over some common interview questions and make sure he follows up with a thank-you note, kind of like you would if you send a scholarship thank you letter to an individual or organization.

Work-Study Options

Juuuust in case you missed the definition at orientation, work-study is a part-time job offered to undergraduate and graduate students. The amount awarded depends on financial need. Your child will only receive work-study if you file the FAFSA

It’s possible to work on or off campus. College students usually work for the school if they work on campus. Your child might work in a couple of different areas at the college or university: 

  • Athletic office
  • Business office
  • Admission and/or financial aid
  • Food service
  • Academic departments
  • Grounds crew
  • Library 
  • Security
  • Day care

The HR office will be able to give your son or daughter a list of jobs. Your kiddo might also be able to get work-study through a private nonprofit organization or a public agency. Colleges can have agreements with private for-profit employers for work-study jobs.

Undergraduates are paid hourly but graduate students can earn an hourly wage or salary. The trick to work-study is that students can’t work more than what they’ve been allotted through the financial aid award. 

Steer Your Kiddo Toward a Side Gig

It’s tough to fully commit to a job or internship during college, which could require more structured hours. What about a side gig with looser hour requirements? Your student may be able to pick and choose specific hours. Here are a few ideas that can offer flexible hours: 

  • Tutor
  • Babysit or nanny for parents who need help after school, during weekends or anytime between classes
  • Teach music lessons or perform
  • Be a tour guide for the town
  • Manage social media for businesses
  • Personal chef
  • Walk dogs
  • Scoop dog poop (yes, that’s a thing!)
  • Clean houses
  • Do yard work
  • Use TaskRabbit to find jobs and help people do tasks like raking leaves or fixing cabinet doors. Granted, this could be considered a “real job,” but it’s possible to pick and choose among jobs. You’re not committed to being at the same place for eight hours per day.
  • Become a driver for Uber or Lyft.
  • Doordash or UberEats to deliver food.

How to Make Money in College without Getting a Real Job

What with o-chem homework every night, your student may not have time to get a real job at all. Here are a few ways your student can make money in college without getting a “real” job or even a side gig.

Make Money Online

Earning money online is one of the best ways to make money in college. Here are a few ways your student can make money online: 

  1. Fill out online surveys like Swagbucks or InboxDollars. It’s possible to make a few extra dollars doing these.
  2. Participate in focus groups for online market research — these types of surveys pay more than online surveys like Swagbucks. Check out Respondent or Fieldwork
  3. Answer questions on JustAnswer. Does your student have a particular area of expertise that can help people? JustAnswer can be a great option. 
  4. Do micro jobs on Mechanical Turk. Just create a worker account and work on the types of Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) your child qualifies for.
  5. Teach online through Cambly, SayABC or the Tutoring Lab — no degree is required for any of these.
  6. Write an ebook and self-publish it on Amazon.
  7. Do freelancing online, whether it’s writing, web design, web development, graphic design, search engine optimization (SEO), mobile app development and more.
  8. Create a blog and become an affiliate marketer through Amazon.

Rent or sell your things

  • Your child may have an extra room or basement and may be able to look for another roommate. Make sure your student gets a background check on each potential roommate.
  • Use Decluttr to get rid of electronics, Blu-ray discs, DVDs and more.
  • Sell unused clothes through a brick-and-mortar consignment shop or online through Poshmark or ThredUp.
  • Get rid of gift cards at Cardpool.com.
  • Sell scrap metal at a local recycling plant — copper, brass and aluminum will make the most money but all scrap metals have some value.
  • Sell just about anything else on Craigslist — furniture, old TVs, lamps, décor, yard equipment, etc.

How to Help Your Student Make Money in College 

Chances are, your student feels guilty asking you for money twice a month. Ask your child to consider other ways he or she might be able to build up some savings. Encourage your child to be creative and think enormous, giant-sized dreams. Wouldn’t it be incredible if he launched a lucrative entrepreneurial endeavor from your dorm room?

Kids are exposed to so much creativity in college — there may never be a better time to bootstrap that idea that’s been rattling around in his head since freshman year. 

Or a part-time job is a good start, too!

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