How can a college student make $30K a year to pay student loans while attending school?
May 28, 2010 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Trying to pay for the college of my dreams: Are there any legitimate part-time jobs (hopefully on the internet) that a college student could do to make $30,000 per year?

I just got an acceptance letter from the well-regarded liberal arts college of my dreams, but it would strap my family with debt amounting to $25,000 per year. My parents could maybe do $5,000 a year, but the rest is up to me. If I could make $20,000 to $30,000 per year while in college, I could cover my costs of living and my student loans. I'm very hesitant to graduate with huge amounts of debt because I want to go to grad school and do not see myself in a hugely money-making career, at least until I hit my 30's.

That said, I would be a full-time student at a rigorous school and can't afford to spend a ton of time at my job, either. I was hoping for a job on the internet because it would give me a level of mobility that might be useful for a college student. Is this possible? Are there jobs out there for someone in my situation, and could you direct me as to where I should focus my search? A quick look through Craigslist made me afraid that my only option would be to become an egg donor--which I do not want to do.

I'm open to other college-funding ideas, too! Any suggestions on where to look for scholarships, grants or rewards? Is it terribly hard to qualify for them?

Apologies for the long-winded and scattered questions. Thank you in advance for your advice.
posted by melancholyplay to Education (73 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Since that's enough money for a family to live on (very very frugally), if there were such part-time jobs they'd have a waiting list a mile long. But they don't exist. Unless you're top notch freelance computer programmer?

My advice, as someone long since graduated, is to look very closely at why this is the college of your dreams, and see where else you could go that's similar, but cheaper. After your first job, no one cares where your degree is from.
posted by MsMolly at 3:45 PM on May 28, 2010 [10 favorites]

There might be some scams that claim this but I would really really doubt you could pull in anything close to that working part time online, or even part time in person without particular skills.

You could consider ROTC programs.
posted by ghharr at 3:46 PM on May 28, 2010

I don't mean to burst your bubble, but after four years and a degree, you may not make $60,000 a year in your first job working full time. Essentially you are asking for this rate of pay for a part-time job that you can do in the comfort of your pajamas.

If your school is in an affluent area you might be able to make $20/hr tutoring or babysitting.
posted by Frank Grimes at 3:47 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a million ways to earn $20-30K as a college student... but not on the internet. You can earn spending money writing articles for various content services/doing surveys and market research questionnaires, but besides that the only way you're going to pull down $30K on your computer is if you're actually creating something like a blog or doing development.

By the way, WHY does it need to be on the internet?
posted by speedgraphic at 3:48 PM on May 28, 2010

As a grizzled ancient, I can assure you that such things do not exist, and certainly not in this economy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:49 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Frank: An average college grad would be exceptionally lucky to earn $35-40K in their first job, in my experience, even from a decent Tier 2 school like the UCs.
posted by speedgraphic at 3:50 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second MsMolly's response...find a similar school that's less expensive.

As far as finding scholarships and other sources of funding, there's always

Good Luck!
posted by ladybug_422 at 3:50 PM on May 28, 2010

Sorry to spam this thread, but you can definitely earn $20K as a college student part time, you just need to pick up a lot of hours at a student job (I drove buses, others served food, etc).
posted by speedgraphic at 3:51 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a personal trainer you can earn $25-30/hr or more. After your freshman year you can be an RA and get some of your expenses covered so you won't need a loan for that. Depending on your career choice, there may be some loan forgiveness programs so you won't have to pay it all back.
posted by Flacka at 3:55 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

You don't specify how much time you'd be willing to put in working or how hard you'd be willing to work, but I waited tables at a restaurant/bar during school. For a student who needs flexible hours and short shifts, I found that waiting tables paid the most by a long shot.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:56 PM on May 28, 2010

i hate to bring this up but if you're going to be putting in the time to try to pull down 20-30k a year while in school, your grades are definitely going to suffer. what's the point of going to the school of your dreams if you end up flunking out? studying, projects, etc, take a lot of time. i'm assuming this is fulltime undergrad. i didn't even have time to work a pithy campus job until my last year of college. you're better off going the route of scholarships, grants, awards, etc. i got a lot of art and academic related scholarships. talk to your school counselour or career center/college counselour at your high school.
posted by raw sugar at 4:00 PM on May 28, 2010 [11 favorites]

oh and also for reference i didn't go to the school of my dreams when it accepted me (an ivy league that didn't give me enough financial aid)- i went to a very well regarded public school that gave me money instead. debt free and no regrets. i have a feeling if i had gone to the ivy league i would have ended up an investment banker like my sister did in order to pay off the student loans.
posted by raw sugar at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2010

You can do pretty well for yourself by working terrible awful manual labour or factory work, long hours for a few months at a time (like over the summer and during Christmas break). I was able to pay my way through school that way. It certainly won't be anywhere near as comfortable as working online, but you'll make enough to pay for tuition and living expenses, without having to sacrifice study time during the semester.

Then again, maybe those jobs are tough to come by these days.
posted by tuck_nroll at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I spent a couple of years killing myself working 70 hours a week while trying to take classes. I was trying to cover tuition at a state (Big 10) school. I had exhausted loans, and it was my only option. It's a horrible idea, you won't make $20k a year, and you should be focusing on your classes instead of trying to pay for your "dream" school, which will become a nightmare. The damage I incurred on my transcript from not having time to study is still causing me grief.

I would find a less expensive school, take out loans instead of working, do well in your classes, and then venture out into the working world.
posted by bolognius maximus at 4:02 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

My last year of college I was both an RA and a bartender. All my food and living covered by the RA gig (I lucked out and landed a grad student hall, I didn't have to "write-up" anyone all year) and I made $500 a week after taxes bartending.
posted by vito90 at 4:03 PM on May 28, 2010

Contact the financial aid people at your school. They should be able to give you some scholarship & grant info, and they should be able to help you get a work study job on campus. However, you won't make 30,000 a year.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:04 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Has the college offered you a financial aid package yet? If not, the first step is to fill out a FAFSA and get it to the college right away. Check their web site for a financial aid office, and after the holiday weekend, call them to see if you can make an appointment with a financial aid counselor - someone there will be able to tell you about grants, work-study jobs and scholarships that are available through the school.
posted by zepheria at 4:04 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another option that many people follow in order to pursue the college of their dreams is to do your first year or two of general classes at a community college, and then when you move into the 300 and 400 classes go to your college of choice. You cover the same bases (generic education from a generic college, specialized education from a focused college) and you wind up with a lower debt load. Sort of the best of both worlds. Or perhaps you could try applying elsewhere where there is a possibility of scholarships, grants, etc.
posted by msbutah at 4:06 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Was coming in to say what msbutah just said.
posted by bardophile at 4:15 PM on May 28, 2010

[deep breath]

i was a parttime telemarketer.

worked 20-25 hours/week, and made more than some of my friends who had real fulltime jobs. of course, it helped that i worked for a very well known children's magazine you've all seen it in the doctor's or dentist's office & people loved it & sent in 'how do i get this for my little biff & muffy?' postcards. i called them & sold them a subscription. that was 25 years ago & i can still recite the spiel in my sleep.

i hate, loathe, and despise sales. but this job was really a poor college student's dream come true.

i also had a few friends who worked for u.p.s., parttime, evenings/nights, doing stuff like sorting packages & loading/unloading trucks. back in the day that paid pretty well and they had health benefits, too.

in more recent times, i knew someone who was a phone sex operator & i think she made ok money.

good luck. it's doable, BUT ... if you have to devote 20+ because don't forget transportation time to & from work hours/week to a job, will this *still* be your dream school? that's giving up a lot of social time.
posted by msconduct at 4:28 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would note that in this economy, even the telemarketing gigs and jobs at UPS are in short supply.
posted by runningwithscissors at 4:39 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Stripper. And before this gets flagged, I have a friend who paid her way through grad school stripping. This is by way of saying that making $30,000 per year, working part time, on the Internet, is unrealistic. I would have been blown away to earn $30K right out of school. Best of luck to you.
posted by fixedgear at 4:40 PM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

The short answer is, "Maybe, but you'll have to be danged creative, and a lot of people will try to exploit you along the way." Beware of anything that requires you give your potential employer cash up-front for "training," or "opportunities." Learn to recognize and avoid pyramid schemes. Sales gigs that offer you sky-high commissions and don't require experience often turn out to be bogus and exploitative.

That said, I do believe that a lot of college students opt for food service or retail without exploring other, potentially more lucrative options. You may not be able to make 30 g a year part time while earning your degree, but you can almost certainly do better than minimum wage, if you put your mind to it.

Below are a couple of ideas: Note that while I've worked extensively with people who do these jobs, I've never done either personally. Others reading this thread may know more about how feasible it would be for a college student to do this kind of work.

Process service: This, basically, is hand-delivering legal papers to folks. Most often, it's no big deal-- you're dropping stuff off at law firms or registered offices-- but occasionally it can be a bit cloak-and-dagger, and in some cases, it can be dangerous. (I would guess that the complicated/nasty jobs will tend to go to experienced servers, at least at reputable companies.) The site I liked to has links to the professional associations for the various states, so you can look into licensing requirements and the like. You would need your own motorized transportation for this, unless you're going to be working exclusively in the downtown corridor of a major metropolitan area. You'll also need to be eighteen, if not twenty-one. In my experience, this tends to be a high-turnover field, so people who manage to build a reputation as being reliable and professional can pull in a good deal of work.

Court Reporting. A lot of court reporting happens, as you might guess, in courtrooms-- but it happens in other places as well. Law firms frequently bring in private court reporters to transcribe depositions, either on-site in their offices or elsewhere. In addition to recording the proceedings, court reporters convert the recordings to specially formatted official documents. I honestly don't know why more people don't do this. The money (from what I hear) is wonderful, and if you freelance, it's flexible as all get-out. Requirements vary from state to state, but in most places, I don't think you need more than a high school diploma to get certified-- and depending on where you are, you might be able to knock out a certification course over the summer. You will need a suit and a professional demeanor to make this work. In my experience, private court reporters often work through agencies, and are dispatched to jobs much the way temps are.

Both of these, of course, are jobs done mostly if not exclusively during the day, so you'd definitely have to be strategic about scheduling your classes, lab work, etc.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

Not if you want to make good grades and maintain your health and sanity. Sorry. I worked 25+ hours per week throughout college and made nowhere near $20k, and this was in multiple part-time jobs, nothing online.
Take the student loans and then pay them off like everyone else. It's better than failing out of school because you're trying to pay out of pocket. This is just a really bad idea, such a bad one in fact, that I feel the need to be extremely frank and curt about it.
Also, if you somehow find a job where you could do this, you can kiss extracurricular activities, volunteering, honors programs, and other things that look good on your resume goodbye. You will also have no social life.
posted by ishotjr at 4:43 PM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seriously, I don't see how anyone could think that $30k/yr is doable for a full-time student. It's not even doable for most recent college grads who work 40-hour weeks unless they're engineers or in certain business majors. This is isn't a question of "could you pay your way through college and come out debt-free just by working part time in 1975?" That was doable, as many will attest. $30k/yr working anything less than full time in this economy is totally not.
posted by ishotjr at 4:47 PM on May 28, 2010

Oh, and that was not directed at the OP, who is in high school and not expected to know these things, this is at the people who are using their college experience decades ago when it was WAY cheaper to encourage the OP to try something that will be a horrible experience.
posted by ishotjr at 4:48 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

This might be an obvious question, but have you even figured out what your financial aid situation is going to be? I got thousands of dollars in scholarships I didn't really know much about and didn't have to directly apply for (other than filling out the required government and school financial aid documents) based on stuff the school looked at -- like PSAT scores and financial need and some other stuff that was unexpected. Then my school also gave me enough loans to cover the rest, and also offered work study -- meaning

You really shouldn't be worrying about this unless they've told you you're not getting financial aid or something. You're not going to find a part time job that will pay you that much, for one thing -- liberal arts graduates are lucky to make that much full time *with* a college degree under their belts, I can assure you from experience.

And as others have mentioned, it's really difficult to keep a job like that and go to school full time. Look at this logistically: you're going to have class most days, at times during the normal work hours, and you're not going to have a lot of control over those hours because you're going to be slave to whenever the classes you need are available. I can tell you my schedules usually had a bunch of weird gaps in them that wouldn't have been time to go to work and accomplish anything inbetween: class from 10 to 11AM, then from 1PM to 3PM, stuff like that. When I started working part time jobs in, later in my college career, this was a HUGE problem to getting the kind of jobs I wanted. I could almost never find anything that fit my schedule, and anything good enough to offer serious money didn't want to have to deal with my schedule changing the next semester even if they could accommodate my current one. Anyone who pays that much doesn't want to deal with people maybe leaving the next semester for an unexpected internship in their field of study, or an unexpected travel abroad thing, or for summer or winter to see their families. And you know what? You're going to WANT to have the option of taking those internships -- almost certainly unpaid for liberal arts ones -- or travel abroad opportunities.

Jobs you can fit in during the evening are, by and large, either going to be hard labor, unreliable, or pay crap. And you're going to need that time to study, sleep, socialize, do the whole college thing. I was very lucky to even get an $8/hour job in the business school's 24-hour computer lab at my college, and it had a flexible automated system to pick up other people's shifts on short notice. Let me tell you -- even for the low pay, that job was better than anything I ever saw again. No one pays college students anything because they know they don't have to.

That might sound like a bummer at first, but realize this is what everyone else does if they don't have rich parents so you'll be fine. Get whatever scholarships you can, take the loans, and don't worry about them until you graduate. Get the most you can out of college. You can't do that if you obsess over the money. Loans are not awful.
posted by Nattie at 4:53 PM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

Sorry, I forgot to finish the first paragraph, hah: work-study means they will offer you a job on campus, and rather than pay you the money you earn working there, it goes toward paying off stuff you owe the college.
posted by Nattie at 4:54 PM on May 28, 2010

Also, about going to a cheaper school: wait until you hear back on your current school's financial aid package, if you haven't already. Sometimes the better schools end up being cheaper. Sometimes.

But honestly... if you can get the loans to go to the school you want to go to, I'd recommend just taking on the debt. Liberal arts at a mediocre school can be pretty bad. I went to UT-Austin, which is actually pretty good for a state school and had a fantastic liberal arts program, but I took on about $35k in debt for my bachelor's. I could have gone to University of Houston for free, and it's not awful, but after seeing some of the stuff my friends studied in liberal arts there and the sorts of stuff their teachers would want them to discuss... just no. Barely any critical thought or analysis going on, it was basically just like taking high school classes that went into a lot of detail on one subject; route memorization of dates and facts without any meaning. There are exceptional teachers hidden at most places and UH had some of those, but I'm very glad I didn't take the cheap route.

If you want to get anything out of a liberal arts education, it has to push you. You have to have teachers that motivate you to think and analyze, and not just on a shallow level. If you got accepted to a well-regarded liberal arts college, then it probably promises that. That doesn't mean you might find a cheaper alternative with a surprisingly good program, so do look for one; I knew I couldn't afford anything out of state or Ivy League so I didn't bother because UT-Austin was a great value. But don't rule out what you've got solely because it's too expensive. The piece of paper you get might count for roughly the same as one from another school in the end, but the thinking skills you acquire are worth the investment. And personally, I wouldn't want to invest four years into something that wasn't going to teach me anything, even if it was free. Choose carefully and don't be afraid of the debt if it comes down to it.
posted by Nattie at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the advice, everyone.

While I realize that it's going to be difficult to find part-time jobs that a full-time undergrad student can do to pull in $30K a year, I think it is possible. Finding a way to do it without compromising my grades or my self (no stripping!) is the biggest challenge.

To clarify on the internet bit: I wrote that I preferred it because it seems like a more flexible option than going to work in a brick-and-mortar office or store. "Flexibility preferred" would have been a better way of putting it. Since school will take up a lot of time, I was hoping for a job that would allow me to access it whenever I could make time--which would be easiest from a computer.

I'm going to work vacations, of course, and this summer I'm thinking of signing up for a full-time job that I've done before. Last time, it brought me around $6K over 3 months, but I'm hoping to find a job that can pay more.

I'm willing to work hard, of course, but school and grades definitely come first for me. If the job would severely and adversely affect my schoolwork, it's not worth it to me.

I do of course have a backup school. However, it does not deliver what I want from my education. I would be a transfer student going into this new school as a junior, so not only do I have a very specific idea of what I want out of a school, I also have less debt to worry about than a four-year student of this college. I'm just very averse to carrying any debt whatsoever!

Thank you all for your great advice. palmcorder_yajna, I'm definitely going to check out the Court Reporting option!
posted by melancholyplay at 5:11 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If the job would severely and adversely affect my schoolwork, it's not worth it to me.

If you're spending 20-30 hours a week working part-time while attending a reasonably prestigious Liberal Arts college, a job will affect your schoolwork.

Also consider that working a part-time job will incur you some extra expenses -- you'll have less time to cook meals, which means more eating out, and you'll likely rack up some vehicle expenses unless you're living particularly close to where you'll be working. Your expenses will exceed the costs of tuition, room, and board, and you need to plan for this.

The community-college-then-transfer option is simultaneously awful and fantastic. It'll cost you less, and give you more free time to put away some savings. However, you won't be at "the college of your dreams" for the next two years.

Alternatively, will your college let you defer admission for a year? If you work your ass off for the next year, and are able to live with your parents and keep expenses to a bare minimum, putting away $30,000 might be plausible.

I know you're an idealist, and that's commendable. However, there's an entire thread of people here telling you that what you're planning is incredibly unrealistic, except for a select few edge cases. You're asking for free money in a recession.

Err. Also, what college sends out acceptances at the end of May? Were you a waitlist candidate?
posted by schmod at 5:29 PM on May 28, 2010

I'm going to go against the grain here: if this is truly your dream school, then you should go. Yes, it's true that once start looking for jobs, where you got your degree won't matter as much as that you have one, but your experiences as a student will matter to you. And what you learn and how you learn it will matter to you for your whole life.

Forget about getting a job in college (I mean a real, serious, big-money job--nothing wrong with getting a student-type job, either with work-study, or whatever students do for "a little help" money at this school you want to attend.)

Look at the FAFSA site to learn about Pell Grants and Stafford loans. Call the school's Financial Aid office immediately and find out which of these you qualify for--some students qualify for both.

Ask the Financial Aid office if you qualify for any other kind of loan, grant, or work-study plan on campus. Find out if there are merit grants available, and if you qualify to apply for them.

Get this book. The library probably has it. Use it.

Read and bookmark this site. Read all of the linked pages as well.

A zillion more reference pages.

You haven't said *where* this school is, or what kind of job you think you'll be looking for. Where is important. I'm shocked at all of the comments saying you can't make $30k a year in your first job, but I live in Chicago, where I made $30k in my very first job after I graduated, fifteen years ago, just working with a temping agency, while working as an actor at night.

If you are determined to attend this school, then incur the loan debt. Pretty much everyone who takes out school loans manages to pay them back.
posted by tzikeh at 5:31 PM on May 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

Also: If the job would severely and adversely affect my schoolwork, it's not worth it to me.

If you want the full college experience (and I sense that you do since you a) have a dream college, and b) it's a liberal-arts college), then do not get a full-time job. College is about more than classes, and I'm not talking about keggers and pledging a sorority or fraternity. All the kind of things available to you at college outside of studying and papers and exams are equally as important in terms of what you can get out of those four years.
posted by tzikeh at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2010

@Nattie -- Thank you for your really thoughtful and detailed response. The reason why I'm set on this school is that it provides a unique education that I believe will make me a better writer, critical thinker, debater, and innovator than I believe most other schools can manage. The piece of paper at the end is not my main objective, though it is an important one, and that's why I would be willing to do a lot of hard work to have the opportunity to attend this particular school.

I have, of course, looked at the financial aid package. The school is the most expensive in the country at around $56K per year, and while the school and state will give me around $30K per year, I'm still left with $26K to deal with. I qualify for and am going to do the work study, which will cover $1800, but that still leaves approximately $24K to worry about, not including the money I would need for books, materials and other cost of living items not covered by the school.

One of the reasons why I thought an internet-based job might be great is because it would allow me to take advantage of the weird 1 and a half hour gaps (or whatever the length) that often crop up between classes. It is difficult to find anything legitimate or well-paying in this arena, though.

Another thing is that my parents live in New York City (as I do now), and it's relatively easier to get jobs around here than I imagine would be elsewhere. This is great for working over vacations. My school is thirty minutes away from NYC by train, but commuting would not only be time-consuming but expensive. Another option I'm considering is commuting to school from home, but on a campus where something like 95% of the students live on-campus, I'm thinking it might not be the best idea.

Thanks for your responses!
posted by melancholyplay at 5:35 PM on May 28, 2010

The school is the most expensive in the country at around $56K per year

My school is thirty minutes away from NYC by train

I just figured out where you got accepted. *g*

1) - Congrats!

2) - Why have you chosen not to name the school in this post? There's nothing wrong with it....
posted by tzikeh at 5:42 PM on May 28, 2010

While I realize that it's going to be difficult to find part-time jobs that a full-time undergrad student can do to pull in $30K a year, I think it is possible. Finding a way to do it without compromising my grades or my self (no stripping!) is the biggest challenge.

No, it really isn't possible. $30k/year is low-end, full-time work at a decent job (think teaching, plumber, vet tech, etc.). It is not something you can pull off part-time. At 15 hours a week, you're talking about a job that pays $40/hour. I'm an excellent computer programmer, and I charge $65/hour freelance. No offense, but do you really think you have something to offer that's worth $40 an hour?

You can make $30k/year at unskilled labor by working many, many hours. I have friends who make that waiting tables. And they work 40-hour weeks, and get tips.

I don't know what you think you'll be studying, but I'd expect any school charging you $30k/year to have high standards. If you're working 40 hours a week, plus full-time school, you will ruin your grades and you will fail out. I graduated in 2006 (...I think). Literally every person I knew in school who worked full time either dropped out of school or quit their job (and got student loans). Every last one.

The adult students who had fulltime jobs were not fulltime students. They took usually two classes, or one demanding class, a semester. And they were, by and large, not the best students in the class. Most of them were too responsible not to put in the time studying, but it was very clear that they weren't progressing as quickly as the fulltime students.

Find a cheaper school, take on debt, or scrounge like a motherfucker to find grants and scholarships. (And taking on debt is a sucker's bet. I have friends who'll be buried for the rest of their natural lives in student debt.)
posted by Netzapper at 5:43 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

haha you're going to sarah lawrence huh? i could be wrong but sounds like that's where you're headed. i know sarah lawrence doesn't have a grade system but you don't want those write-up/recommendations from the profs that you get at the end of the semester to all be like "her head just wasn't in the class" because you're working all the time or worrying about doing some interweb freelancing thing and getting it in on time.

even at the public school i went to, people i knew commuted from home to school, about 45min by train. it seemed like it wasn't that great (kinda stressful) and not great for their social lives but they did save a bundle on living expenses. you should consider it.

again, i advocate that you try to rack up as many scholarships and grants as possible. the ones i got were mostly regional.
posted by raw sugar at 5:44 PM on May 28, 2010

(Oh, I almost went to S---- L------- as well. Have you looked at Oberlin College? Similar hippie vibe. St. John's College is equally weird. Personally, I wound up at Temple University--but it'd probably scandalize you.)
posted by Netzapper at 5:46 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

@tzikeh--Thank you for all the links! I'm going to check them out now.

@schmod--I was a transfer candidate and responses come mid-May for us. Though I haven't been attending a community college, I have attended another college very cheaply for two years already. While I believe I could graduate from my current college in two years, it doesn't ignite me the way that my dream college does--and I'm looking for ignition. I believe that I'm at a critical point in my life where my mind is just looking for the right spark to set it off, and I owe it to myself to find it. This dream school gives me a better chance of finding that spark, in my opinion, but the question is how to balance the costs.
posted by melancholyplay at 5:46 PM on May 28, 2010

Stripping, programming and prostution are your options. If you're insistent on the internet you can think about cam girl/ fetish sites. Otherwise part-time jobs that pay what you need just don't exist. Sorry.
posted by goo at 5:46 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Raw Sugar - melancholyplay clearly went to great lengths not to name the college in question, so what the hell are you doing putting your guess out there? Sure, I'm curious as to why the college wasn't named, but that's a question for the OP to answer, NOT SOMEONE ELSE. Nice. Perhaps your advice about college would be worth more if you used gave the tiniest evidence that you'd learned some maturity--or style and grammar.

melancholy -- don't commute. If you're going to go, go.
posted by tzikeh at 5:54 PM on May 28, 2010

One thing to think about: if you go to grad school after college, you can defer your loans until after you're done with that.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:04 PM on May 28, 2010

@ tzikeh - Yes, it's Sarah Lawrence--I wasn't sure if I really wanted to advertise that in my initial question, but I guess if I'm asking for advice it does pay to be specific.

@Netzapper - I do have a history of tutoring and teaching violin, both of which I've charged $60/hour for. However, I see your point--realistically, I will not be able to pull that off 500 times per year to make $30K.

On another note, I'm not sure if this is a NYC thing but my friends from high school who graduated a few years before me have either found jobs that make at least $40K per year or have gone on to grad school. While $30K per year doing part time may be ridiculously unrealistic, I do fully intend on making at least that once I graduate college--I just don't want to be followed by debt for years after my graduation!

I think you're right about scrounging like a mother for those scholarships and grants. I don't do things halfway, and there's no question that my #1 priority is having my head 100% in the school game. Juggling jobs doesn't sound ideal for that--thanks Metafilter for helping me see.

I was really interested in St. John's for a couple of years, but realized that becoming a Classics major probably wasn't right for me. Also, they do not accept transfers--you have to start from year 1 if you go there because of the rigidity of their curriculum. Have visited Oberlin but was not a big fan. I'm pretty set on my dream school!
posted by melancholyplay at 6:06 PM on May 28, 2010

You might be able to find a semi-demi-professional job. When I was an undergrad, I worked for a time as a pharmacy tech. I had some experience in this (my step-dad was a pharmacist, and I worked in his pharmacy while I was in high school) and found a job easily when I moved away for college. I don't recall how much the job paid, but as I recall it was better than most other student jobs. I had other friends (budding biochemists) who worked as lab techs. I doubt that any of us made $30,000/year (or the equivalent back then) but I'm sure it was better than waiting tables.

I think the chances of your earning anywhere near $30,000 on the internet are nil.

Also, while I'm all in favor of "living your dream", etc., I think that higher education is vastly overpriced these days (see here) and that we're due for some sort of correction. At least, I hope so (sez the father of the 7 year old).
posted by lex mercatoria at 6:09 PM on May 28, 2010

@tzikeh-- Thanks for the defense, but it's not too big of a deal--if anyone has actually read this far, I suppose I'm fine with them knowing. Just felt a little weird about it initially. Thank you though!

I'm 90% sure I don't want to commute. However, it would lift around $7K off of my yearly total (and that's calculating in the amount it would cost me to travel).

@sciencegeek-- True. I've considered this, but I have a strong aversion to holding debt and am really worried about having these loans waiting for me at the end of my school years--even though they won't collect interest while I'm in grad school.
posted by melancholyplay at 6:11 PM on May 28, 2010

I went to your dream school (which does have a grade system for transfer and grad school purposes, by the way), but pre-Internet. Some things I recall that may be useful to you:

-- It was usually possible to schedule classes such that I could have Mondays and Fridays off. Having four days a week off allowed me to work 16-24 hours in retail at the nearby very large shopping center. (Again, this was pre-Internet, so no online options.) That schedule was HEAVILY dependent on my academic concentration -- there were several other concentrations where it would not have been possible to rig that at all. And obviously, sometimes it meant 2nd choice convenient classes over 1st choice inconvenient ones. But there, it's not a huge jump from one to the other...

-- Court reporter and/or temp jobs in that area will likely be a challenge if you don't have a car. If you do have a car, though, you may also want to look into something like the graveyard shift at UPS or FedEx. My boyfriend (who went to Pace in Pleasantville) did that for two years. It was really tough.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're sure you want to do grad school, you're generally as prestigious as your last degree, so might be wiser to save up for the grad school of your dreams.
posted by bendybendy at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2010

For what it's worth, repaying my student loans isn't so bad. Now, I didn't go to a school with $56/year tuition (although it was plenty expensive) but I was always nervous about How Much I'd Have To Pay Back when I graduated.

It really, really hasn't been unpleasant. And I don't make a lot of money, by any means. I too hate debt--we don't even have credit cards--but going to the school of my choice seemed worth it, and was.

Basically my point is: "Loans: Not As Bad As You Think, Probably"

As for working during school, I think the tutoring and violin teaching thing sounds good.
posted by Neofelis at 6:41 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

@Neofelis-- I love that--"Loans: Not As Bad As You Think, Probably." It has a nice ring to it, too. :)

Your story is very encouraging. I'm still freaked out by the huge amount of debt, but as a close friend said: it's one thing to go into massive debt for a car, house, or shopping addiction, another to go into debt for your education. The thing about education is that it's one of the only things in life that no one can ever take away from you, so maybe it's worth the investment.

Anyway, good to hear from an equally debt-hating person. Thanks!
posted by melancholyplay at 6:48 PM on May 28, 2010

>>I'm 90% sure I don't want to commute. However, it would lift around $7K off of my yearly total (and that's calculating in the amount it would cost me to travel).<>
Honestly, don't commute. You'll miss *so* much.

Nobody likes to carry debt. I put myself in stupid credit card debt when I was very young, and once I paid it off, I canceled all but one credit card. I only use it for emergencies, and for things I know I can pay at the end of each cycle (I gain miles when I use it, and reducing the price of any air travel I might need is an easy plus). I only ever buy what I can afford. I put 10% of any money that comes in directly into savings. I do have school loans, but they are an *investment*, not debt.

Look. I'm not trying to encourage you to go broke, though it may sound like it. College is a once-in-a-lifetime gig--there's nothing like it ever again. I'm in grad school right now, and as much as I enjoy it, it's just not that 18-22 college experience. Go for it. Just go for it.
posted by tzikeh at 7:27 PM on May 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

You're going to an expensive liberal arts college at the perfect time. Student loans are **really** different now. If I were going to school I would have little hesitation in taking out substantial loans due to the income-based repayment program and the public service forgiveness program.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:45 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's possible to make that much waiting tables or tending bar in the city, if you can get work at exclusive, high-end places. For that, you are probably going to have to lie on your resume (unless you already have super-high-end waiting/bartending experience) and be moderately to very attractive. I've known waiters who cleared $50k in NYC ten years ago (mind you, those were better economic times), so it can be done.
posted by willpie at 8:11 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

So lets start with the basics. You want to make $30K because that is how much you need per year.
Current need:$30K

1. You say that the family can pay it all, but would be in debt for $25k/year. I'm assuming this means they can contribute $5k/year without doing too much damage.
Current need:$25K

2. You say you have worked full time over 3 mos to yield $6K.
Current need:$19K

3. Don't live on campus...and you can save $7K? Wow. Maybe if commuting gets to be a big hassle you can live off campus...which is still cheaper than on campus.
Current need: $12K

4. Hey can I make $12K over 9 mos while being a full time student at SL?

Get pretty (sorry...but yeah...)
Find a small group of lawyers.
Ask to be their receptionist.
Read text during your downtime.
Collect $15/hour.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:29 PM on May 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

You can take a year before college, work crazy hard, live at home and save every penny, and give yourself a head start on the college bills.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 PM on May 28, 2010

You could try to be a virtual assistant.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:06 PM on May 28, 2010

My parents had a sign at their business: "Quality, Quick, Cheap. Pick any two."

I think this is true in your case, but instead:

Dream school, no debt, good grades.

Pick any two.
posted by Monday at 9:36 PM on May 28, 2010 [11 favorites]

Just chiming in to say, really? I thought becoming a court reporter takes on average four years to train!!!
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:29 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is extremely unrealistic. You made 6k in 3 months full time! In one year that is 24k. Less than you want from a part time job.
posted by lakerk at 10:38 PM on May 28, 2010

As far as the debt, think of it this way: you can compress all the extra work and hassle and sacrifice of paying that $50K-$60K into just two years, to the detriment of the thing you are actually paying all the money for. Or you can spread it out over up to 15 years after you graduate, during years when you are actually earning money full-time. (Not to mention the various loan forgiveness possibilities.) Heck, if you really wanted to, you could even try to do your marathon I-will-sacrifice-all-my-free-time-because-I-want-to-be-debtfree thing in the two years after you graduate instead of the two years of school, which would mean paying not too much in interest, and at least at that point your sacrificed nights and weekends would only be detracting from your work-life balance rather than your educational experience. (Also: am I understanding right that you don't want to commute because of the effects on your social experience on campus? Because the stress and time commitment of the amount of work you're thinking about trying to do would be a serious drag on that too.)

If you really want this, don't you want it enough to be willing to pay the extra cost of the interest charges in order to give yourself the time and energy to make the most of it?

Work hard during the summer and over breaks, find a reasonable amount of hours a week to work during the school year (I'd suggest planning on about 10 and adjusting based on how things go-- maybe more if you can find a job where you can study while getting paid, but those typically don't pay too well and/or have odd hours), and go ahead and get loans for the rest. At least that's what I'd recommend.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 11:45 PM on May 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

Why are you ignoring the suggestions to fuck on camera? With the right angle, you don't even have to be attractive. It's the only thing anyone has suggested that satisfies your criteria.

This actually isn't even a very pragmatic suggestion. Most porn actresses are paid a couple grand per video at the high end ('brand name' stars not included), for the most extreme stuff (think DVDA, not 2girls1cup). And the amount of work there is versus the people trying to get it isn't that great. She'd need to do 15-20 videos a year to get $30k. For four years. So, she'd star in, what, 80 different videos to get through 4 years of college? That's not a reasonable expectation, even putting aside how unpleasant/abusive working conditions are at many mainstream porn studios. Most porn actresses are strippers who are essentially cross-promoting their stripping.

To self publish she'd have swim upstream against the seething torrent of existing internet pornography. Considering I never got more than about 30 hits a month with my promoted and cross-linked [CENSORED], I really have trouble believing she'll pull in $30k/year in ads or subscriptions. If she were really driven for excellence in pornography, and had some unique angle, maybe... but, then, I don't think she'd need it half-sincerely suggested by some schmoe on the internet.

If she were willing to do sex work, the real answer is prostitution of some flavor. I have a friend who paid his private-school student loans, bought a brand new car, started a business, and lived like a high roller from gay escorting for maybe 18 months.

Personally, if she has the personality for it, I think working as a domme is probably the best approach. All the pay of hooking, but you don't actually have to fuck the dudes. Just wear tall boots and hurt them creatively.

But, she said she won't even strip... so, I kinda doubt that domming is gonna work for her.
posted by Netzapper at 12:54 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I work at a New York City Apple store. There are students/part-timers here who earn between 26 and 30k per year (though more on the 26 end than the 30 end), but they're working roughly 40 hour weeks, studying in the break room, etc... Somehow they seem to make it work though.
The Fifth Avenue store is 24 hours, too, which helps with the working-around-stuff angle. Who sleeps in college anyway? And you get a $100/mo commuting allowance, among other benefits. They even contribute some (pretty trivial) amount towards classes if you can show they're in any way applicable to your job. (Languages for instance.)
They're hiring right now. MeMail me if you want more info.
posted by raygan at 1:41 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wanted to chime in and say that yes it is possible to make a decent amount of money while going to school full time. My situation, however, may not fit yours.

My senior year of college, I worked seven days a week (four of which were for my on-campus work study job). Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I worked full days as a hotel clerk at a casino (so, twenty-four hours of work). I got paid oh, around $20k that year (though I also worked full time there during school breaks). They were flexible, willing to work with my schedule and increase/decrease hours as needed, and I nearly killed myself writing my senior thesis and commuting 200 miles between school and work. And yes, I graduated from college within the past five years.

So, the moral of my story is this: it's possible, it'll suck your soul and you won't have a 'typical' college experience, and you're going to have to be creative to find such a job. In your case, I'd recommend looking for work as a night auditor (aka, working the night shift of a hotel front desk) at a hotel near the college or where you'll be living. There's high turnover (no one likes to work nights) and decent pay (no one wants to work nights) but you'll be giving up a lot to do it. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.
posted by librarylis at 1:41 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I worked like a horse and got out of school with no debt. I wish that I had not. I sacrificed my present for my future, and both lost out. Seriously, so so much of what you gain in college is the interaction with other students. The late nights, the aimless wandering, the everything else that I missed out on. Do what you can on the grant/scholarship front and then just suck it up and take the loans. Don't sell your college experience out. It's not worth it.
posted by stoneweaver at 2:01 AM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

I thought an internet-based job might be great is because it would allow me to take advantage of the weird 1 and a half hour gaps (or whatever the length) that often crop up between classes

No, those weird 1.5 hour gaps will be filled talking with people after class (fellow students or teachers), getting your stuff together for the next class if you need it, maybe grabbing a bite to eat in between classes, actually getting to the next class, etc. Then there's email to respond to, text messages to respond to, a million errands to run. And maybe some time for homework? If you're commuting, that's another chunk of time out of the equation. While I understand your desire to pack 28 hours of work in a day, there's simply not enough time for you to do everything you want to do. I'm sorry.

I'm sure you'll find plenty of anecdotal evidence.
  • "One Summer my friend made $100,000 in tips!" (reality: you won't be working in any of those restaurants because you have no real food experience)
  • "My best friend's sister did some part-time modeling!" (reality: you would probably know by now if that was an option for you)
  • "You can always strip!" (realty: No, actually, you can't! Stripping isn't nearly so easy a profession to just "walk into" off the street, certainly not at the kinds of places where they tip enough to pay for a college education)
Not saying any of this isn't possible, just that it's highly unlikely.

it's one thing to go into massive debt for a car, house, or shopping addiction, another to go into debt for your education. The thing about education is that it's one of the only things in life that no one can ever take away from you, so maybe it's worth the investment.

You know what the other thing about education is? It's the only kind of debt that cannot be written off in a bankruptcy.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:52 AM on May 29, 2010 [5 favorites]

Education debt is good debt. Courage!


Your answer is so staring you in the face: Teach violin privately. I don't have direct experience but would guess that $60 / hour for private instruction is on the low end around NYC, so you have room to raise your fee as you gain experience / reputation. You may even have better luck attracting students if you raise your fee now... regardless, with a dedicated word of mouth / postering / craigslist campaign, you will be able to pull together 10 students, no problem. That's ten individual pretty-flexible hours of work per week bringing in $600. Totally doable. Make friends with the administrative staff in the music department - perhaps you can work out a system for reserving a practice studio. It may be a good question to ask if you visit again - teaching in the practice rooms was very common at my old school, and I'm sure SL has dealt with it before.

It seems like tutoring would work largely the same way, although you might have more competition - violin (and viola!) instructors are probably much scarcer than tutors at SL. Have a great time and good luck!
posted by violinflu at 5:03 AM on May 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

. I would be a transfer student going into this new school as a junior

Then you're only assuming $50k in debt minus whatever you manage to save from your after tax earnings over the next couple of years (not possibly more than $10k-$15k over 2 years).

$40k-50k isn't awful. You'll be paying $500/month each month for the next 10 years, but it won't kill you. (please, please, please read through the various AskMeFi questions from people asking how to deal with their crippling debt loads. Please. Because we don't want that to be your next AskMeFi post a few years from now)

Just think about reconsidering your choice of college. Sarah Lawrence, in my experience, is for people from wealthy families who wanted to go to a liberal arts college but didn't get accepted to the more presitigious ones. Their graduates do fine, in part because they make good contacts at the school and because their parents can give them good support and good advice for career choices. How much time are you going to have for hob-nobbing with your classmates and engaging in whatever dream-school activities you had in mind, given the amount of work you're going to have to do to pay your tuition?

You may want to look at your first semester-to-year at Sarah Lawrence as an experiment. If you see you're getting buried with debt and unable to climb out of it with a lot of part time jobs, then you should go back to your previous college.

I want to go to grad school and do not see myself in a hugely money-making career, at least until I hit my 30's.

Are you planning on getting a Ph.D. in the humanities and hoping to find a tenure-track faculty position? Because that's not really a career path conducive to paying off debt.

In any case, since you are extremely debt-averse, you should ask around for people's stories about who managed to finish college without debt. In my experience, they come in two categories: those with parents who had enough money to pay tuition, and those who made specific choices only to attend colleges that at least gave them a tuition-scholarship, if not a tuition-room-board scholarship. I've really never heard of anyone who attended a private college who paid off their loans with part time jobs. The reason for this is simple: the rate of increase in college tuition has been far greater than the rate of increase in salaries. Even if there were an era in the past where you could pay off your tuition with part time jobs, it's not anymore because job salaries grew slowly while tuition grew much more quickly.
posted by deanc at 8:48 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just a data point: I have a friend who went to Sarah Lawrence for her first year. Then she decided it was a waste of money and transferred to our highly regarded state school. She is really happy there.
posted by val5a at 9:03 AM on May 29, 2010

The reason why I'm set on this school is that it provides a unique education that I believe will make me a better writer, critical thinker, debater, and innovator than I believe most other schools can manage.

Forget this. College is so dependent on what you put into it, you need to make yourself a better writer, critical thinker and debater, school will only provide the resources to do that, but the work is all on your. What are you majoring in? What are your post-college career plans?

I say this having attended SUNY Purchase (which i absolutely loved), which is nearby to Sarah Lawrence and I believe have a similar small art/liberal arts college feel. Many of my friends with liberal arts degrees, who worked in NYC, struggled to make $30,000 annual salaries post-graduation. I certainly couldn't do it (3 years post-grad and I'm doing well financially, but it took some time).

Consider that you will very likely change your major and your career plans, most undergrad students do. If you are a New York resident and plan on attending grad school, I can't imagine why you wouldn't consider one of the excellent SUNY schools, and go to Sarah Lawrence for your graduate degree. Alternatively, you can do all your core requirements at a community college and transfer to your dream school after two years, you'll save almost half your tuition.

Also: become an RA.
posted by inertia at 9:49 AM on May 29, 2010 [4 favorites]

$40k-50k isn't awful.

Let me amend that: it's not awful, but it will hurt a lot, and it will be DOUBLE the median debt load of people who graduate from other prestigious private universities. I know I made some snarky comments about Sarah Lawrence that some might take issue with, but one indisputable fact about Sarah Lawrence is that compared to top-tier prestigious colleges and university, it's poor: its endowment per student is $43,000 per student which is a fraction of what other well-known liberal arts colleges can offer (eg, Amherst's endowment is $700k per student, Wellesley's $550k per student). That level of wealth that the college has is directly related to how much financial aid they can offer you.
posted by deanc at 12:49 PM on May 29, 2010

For your summers, I highly recommend looking into employment at camps. Since you've taught violin, you might start checking into good music camps and seeing when they do their hiring. I had a lot of fun at my summer computer camp jobs, and not only did they make for great work experience on my resume, they also paid well. With room & board included, so that the paychecks could pretty much all go to savings to use for school.
posted by polymath at 5:25 PM on May 29, 2010

deanc and inertia above have nailed it. Also be sure to read this article in yesterday's New York Times before you make any decisions.

The reason why I'm set on this school is that it provides a unique education that I believe will make me a better writer, critical thinker, debater, and innovator than I believe most other schools can manage.

No school will do this for you, this is what you do for yourself.

Good luck!
posted by agent99 at 5:55 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

it provides a unique education that I believe will make me a better writer, critical thinker, debater, and innovator than I believe most other schools can manage.

Yeah, you should rethink just what a special snowflake your chosen school is. There are many, many, many good colleges (private and public alike) that will provide you with the opportunity for you to develop these skills. Sarah Lawrence is a good institution, but it's neither unique nor magic.
posted by scody at 2:36 PM on May 30, 2010

I went to a decent liberal arts college, got a lot of financial and graduated with 26.000 in debt for all fours years. And I throughly regret that. I had a great time at college, but none of the jobs I have had in the last 4 years since graduating have even come close to 26.000/year.

There will be new experiences, awesome friends, excellent or horrible profs no matter where you go. And you will not get your moneys worth if you are trying to work $20-30,000 worth of work on top of full-time college courses.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 10:44 PM on May 30, 2010

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