What’s a student to do when they’re buried in classwork but need to make a few bucks?
Sure, work-study and local part-time jobs are available, but they may not suit your schedule or be as flexible as you’d like, particularly during busy times of the year like midterms and finals.
Don’t think of these as your only options to earn money during college. In fact, there are many unique and unconventional ways to earn money outside of a job. All it takes is a little creativity and a bit of time and you can make some decent cash.
Get Creative with Junk
Some of you may already know that you can sell junk for cash, but Paul Burke, the founder of startup RentHoop.com, found a way to sell enough junk to fund his college entertainment expenses. While attending Western Washington University, he went to the 2014 Super Bowl where the Seattle Seahawks won. After celebrating at the stadium about an hour after the game ended, he saw a random bag of confetti.
“The security guard gave it to me and I quickly snapped a picture to prove it was from the Super Bowl,” Paul said. “I sold 30 pieces of confetti for $30 and made close to $400.” Burke made sure to show these images as proof and turned what many would have thought was garbage into a money making opportunity.
Paul’s advice is to find things of value that don’t cost you a lot. “The confetti cost me nothing, yet it was very valuable to some people,” he said. So take a look around you. Are there items around you that you can resell for a bit of profit?
Or do something similar to what Burke did and find items that people no longer want. Your hundred dollar idea might be around the corner.
File a Lawsuit
Let’s be clear: nobody is advocating that you go and sue anyone. That would be silly. But you can participate in class action lawsuits to earn a bit of cash, which is what Carmen Li did. While learning how to coupon to save money on groceries, she stumbled upon a blog post showing her how to apply to class action lawsuits. “I thought it was insane that I could do something like that,” Li said. “I would apply to these class action lawsuits here and there and ended up earning close to $500 in a year.”
To be perfectly clear, it’s not some scam she was part of, but a legitimate way to make money if you’re willing to fill out a few forms. And for those who aren’t clear on what a class action suit is, it’s a kind of lawsuit where a group of people are represented by an individual. For example, if a company managed to wrong 50,000 people, it makes more sense to have one wronged person in court rather than all 50,000. What happens next is, if there is a settlement, as long as the 50,000 people make a claim, they’re entitled to the settlement that was agreed upon.
So to earn money this way, all you have to do is to find some class action lawsuits. It’s not that hard, as websites like ClassActionRebates.com and TopClassActions.com have a database of open cases. When you find ones you’re eligible for, simply file a claim online and when approved, just wait for your check in the mail.
Become a Guinea Pig
Your college may be a goldmine for odd jobs that can pay more than minimum wage. All you have to do is be alert to opportunities around you, which isn’t that hard.
Lots of schools, especially research universities, are looking for participants quite often. These are usually for graduate students or professors that are conducting research studies and need many people to form their research results.
For example, UC Davis graduate Amber Berry participated in enough psychological studies to earn some rent money during her college years. “For one of my psychology classes I had to participate in at least two psychological studies as part of our grade,” Amber said. “I enjoyed it so much after the course had ended I participated in a few more, and I got paid!”
Being a research participant doesn’t require too much of you, so don’t worry. Examples of tasks include hearing and light sensitivity tests, testing out social media platforms and answering other simple questions.
As for how much you can earn, it really depends on the individual studies, but Amber averaged about $8 per hour, and most of them were about two hours long.
If you’re looking to make extra money this way, Amber suggests looking around your college to see if there are any signs posted up, or any private online portals where professors post their studies looking for participants. You could try Craigslist, but be careful of scams and whether or not the sources are legitimate.
All in the name of science, right?
Go Forth and Prosper
If you want a way to make money that’s creative, fun, and has pretty good earning potential, try any of these three unconventional activities. Why not have fun making money to put towards your studies? Most importantly, how cool would it be not to have to take out as many student loans to fund your living expenses during college?