When I went off to college, my parents agreed to cover my tuition. But if I wanted to live out on my own, I had to cover my rent, food, books, and bills. My parents, of course, gave me the option to live at home rent-free, but what college student wants to live at home when they can be out on their own?!
Needless to say, working was not an option for me. Even if I had decided to stay-at-home with my parents, I was still responsible for gas, car insurance, and college textbooks – which are expensive!
Luckily, I fell into waiting tables (I applied for a hostess position, but was hired on as a waitress) which worked out great. I made good money, and my schedule was flexible. While I had my scheduled shifts, if I needed to make more money, I could pick up an extra shift, and if I needed more time to study, I could try and get my shift covered. I ended up waiting tables for nine years while I got my two degrees.
If you're a college student and you're looking for a flexible, part-time, or online gig, there are a lot of options available to you, and you don't have to wait tables, although it is a good option.
Here are 16 flexible and online jobs for college students that allow you to have time for your classes and studying.
1. Test Websites
If you're tech-savvy and have good communication skills, testing websites and apps for usability can be an easy and flexible way to earn some extra cash. Most gigs take between 5-25 minutes and pay an average of $10 per test. Some companies will make you take a practice test to ensure that you can give detailed and clear feedback on the website you're testing.
If this sounds interesting, give these companies a try:
2. Online Surveys
Only have a few minutes? Online surveys are the perfect way to make a little extra pocket cash when you have a few minutes of downtime. While you're not going to get rich completing surveys — you can do them any time of the day or night. I often complete surveys when I'm waiting for an appointment or have a few minutes to spare. When you're choosing surveys to participate in, be sure to look the time investment versus the payout — you don't want to spend 30 minutes on a survey that only pays 10 cents!
Here are some of my faves:
Obviously, I'm a huge advocate for starting your own blog. But let me tell you why blogging is such a great idea for college students.
- It's an online resume of your writing, marketing, PR, and technical skills.
- You can adjust your work schedule to fit your school schedule.
- It introduces you to people and opportunities you would not have been privileged to before.
- It takes very little money to start and run.
- You can blog about ANYTHING!
- There are tons of different ways for you to make money with a blog.
In fact, Eva Baker started her blog, TeensGotCents, as a high school student. Today she uses her blog as a source of income while she attends college. If blogging sounds like the perfect gig to you – this post explains how you can get started for $2.95 a month!
4. Short Tasks
Short tasks are just what they sound like; little jobs that can usually be completed in 30 minutes or less. Tasks vary from site-to-site but often include transcription, data entry, internet research, answering questions, booking appointments, surveys, translation, and more. Short tasks sites like Course Hero, pay an average of $3.00 per question answered. Other sites like Fancy Hands, pay anywhere from $2.50 to $7.00 per task. Here are some other companies that offer short task assignments:
5. Virtual Assitant
If you're organized and have excellent admin and communication skills, working from your dorm as a virtual assistant may be a good way to earn the extra income that you need. I always find bloggers looking for virtual assistants, so joining some relevant Facebook groups can be helpful for finding those one-off job postings. The paid membership site, FlexJobs, also has a good list of virtual assistant jobs.
- My BTLR (part-time)
- Profit Factory (20-40 hour per week)
- People Per hour (project-based work)
- VaVa Virtual Assistants (part-time)
- Upwork (freelance work)
6. Freelance Writer
As a college student, you're always writing papers. Which is good for a few reasons. One, when you write a lot, you become quicker and better versed as a writer overall. Two, freelance writing gigs are plentiful, easy to find, and usually pay pretty well. Third, you may be able to repurpose your college content for paid writing gigs on the same topic. If you're interested in writing your way to some extra cash — here are 99+ paid writing gigs to check out.
7. On-Demand Gigs
The gig economy has made it easier than ever to connect with people who need help and are willing to pay individuals to do it. One such platform that's specifically geared to college students is QuadJobs. With QuadJobs, college students can find on-demand gigs like babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, delivery, cleaning, social media, graphic design, and more. The platform is free for college students to use, and employers pay students directly based on a mutually agreed-upon rate.
Here are some more on-demand gigs that college student can work on a flexible schedule:
- DoorDash (food delivery)
- Instacart (grocery shopping and delivery)
- Postmates (food and product delivery)
- Rover (dog walking)
8. Sell Stuff Online
When you're in college, you quickly learn about selling your textbooks back for cash, but did you know you can sell almost anything online for a quick buck? Old clothes, shoes, art, handbags, books, DVDs, electronics, and more. A couple of my favorites sites to use are thredUp (clothes) and Gazelle (electronics). If you want to expand this idea further, you can scope out garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores for cool finds and flip them for a profit. There are many online platforms you can use to resell your items, like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, VarageSale, and Poshmark.
9. Smartphone Apps
If you have a smartphone, there's no reason why you shouldn't download a few moneymaking apps. There are tons to choose from, and they're available for both iPhone and Android operating systems. Some of my favorites include:
- ShopKick (earn gift cards)
- Dosh (earn cash via PayPal, Venmo, or bank account)
- Ibotta (earn cash via PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards)
- Gigwalk (earn cash via PayPal)
You won't be able to earn a full-time income with Smartphone apps. But it only takes a few minutes to use each one, and you can usually make enough to cover your Starbucks habit or to buy some new books on Amazon. My philosophy is every little bit helps!
10. Direct Sales Consultant
If you're an extrovert that has good persuasion skills, selling products for a profit may be an excellent way to earn some extra money and learn some new skills. While you'll need to invest a little money upfront for your starter kit, you'll get sample products that you can put to good use.
Here are a few direct sales companies that offer inexpensive starter kits:
- Origami Owl (jewelry)
- Willing Beauty (skincare and makeup)
- Peach (athleisure)
- Stella & Dot (clothing, jewelry, and accessories)
11. AppleCare College Program
If you're an Apple fanatic, and you know about tech issues, you can work-from-home with the AppleCare College Program. Apple will train you to troubleshoot tech issues via phone, give you an iMac, to use, accommodate your school schedule, and allow you to work-from-home. Even as a part-time worker, you'll receive benefits like discounts on products, paid time off, and resources to promote your career development. According to Indeed, AppleCare College Advisors earn an average of $13.95 per hour.
12. Teach ESL Classes Online
If you enjoy working with kids, you can teach English as a second language (ESL) to Chinese children online. You must be currently enrolled in a university program or have a Bachelor's Degree. You'll also need to have some sort of experience with children (coaching, mentoring, tutoring, volunteering, etc.).
Here are a couple of ESL opportunities to check out:
13. Freelance Proofreading
If you have excellent grammar and spelling skills and a good grasp of the English language, you can earn good money working as a freelance proofreader. Most online proofreading companies will make you take a test to assess your skills, but once you pass that, you should be good to go. You may even be willing to sell your freelance services to classmates that need help with proofreading and editing their college papers.
Here are some places to check for freelance gigs:
If you think proofreading may be the perfect flexible career for you, check out this free 76-minute workshop here. You'll discover the five signs proofreading is right for you, and easy ways to attract clients.
14. Participate in Focus Groups
When I was in college, I did this a few times. Focus group studies are usually one-off opportunities where you get paid to provide your opinion on a particular product, topic, or service. Often these studies are done in person, but the research company, Respondent, has many online and telephone studies. According to their website, most interviews take between 30 – 90 minutes, and the average payout is $60 – $140 per study. The great thing about focus groups is they pay well, and they are short sessions that you can fit into your school schedule.
15. Online Tutoring
If you're a whiz at math, English, or science, you can earn good money by becoming an online tutor. Companies like Chegg, hire individuals to teach a variety of subjects to middle school, high school, and college students, as well as professionals. According to their website, tutors earn $20 per hour, and top tutors can earn $1,000 or more each month.
Here are some other tutoring companies to check out too:
16. Instagram Influencer
As a Gen Z or Millennial, you've probably grown up using social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat. You probably already have a decent-sized following too, if so, you can earn good money and/or free swag by sharing your influence with brands.
According to this New York Times article:
“At Virginia Tech, as many as 1,000 of the 30,000 undergrads are being paid to promote products as varied as mascara and storage bins, according to an estimate by Donna Wertalik, director of marketing for the university's Pamplin College of Business.”
If you've been trying to make money on Instagram, but you're not having any luck, sign-up for this free webinar, 4 Reasons You're Not Making Money on Instagram + How to Fix It.
As you can see, there are lots of non-traditional work opportunities for college students. Whether you're looking to work online or find something that allows you a flexible schedule, there are numerous ways for you to earn cash in today's tech-savvy environment.
I hope these flexible money making ideas got your creative juices flowing. Are you a college student that makes money in a unique way? Drop us a note; we'd love to hear from you! If you enjoyed this post — please share it on your favorite social media site.
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Originally published May 18, 2016. Content updated March 24, 2020.
Holly Reisem Hanna is the publisher and founder of The Work at Home Woman, which has been helping individuals find remote careers and businesses that feed their souls since 2009. Through her unconventional career path of holding over 30 jobs and obtaining two college degrees, she's been able to figure out how to find a career path that you're truly passionate about. Holly's had the pleasure of sharing her expertise on sites like CNN, MSN Money, Huffington Post, Woman's Day Magazine, as well as being recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 100 Websites for Your Career.” Holly resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, traveling, and yoga.
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