Help me make something for money!
November 11, 2007 5:57 PM   Subscribe

As a college student in a dorm room with a large amount of free time, how can I make money?

So I'm a freshman college student living in a dorm, and I have a lot more free time than I had originally expected. Unfortunately, I'm unable to get a real job because the times I'm free are not consistent from day to day. Besides, I have a scholarship worth $4,000 a year that requires me to maintain a 3.5 GPA, and so that has to be my main focus.

I do find myself with a lot of spare time though, and if there's some way I can earn even a small amount of money, it'd be great. I'm kind of thinking along the lines of something I could make and sell on eBay, but any ideas at all would be greatly appreciated.

Relevant info:
- I am a computer science major, so computer-related stuff is a possibility.
- I have some soldering skill, albeit not much. Willing to learn more and use that, as long as it won't set off the smoke alarm in my dorm room :)
- I also have a set of tools available to me, but I obviously don't have access to a lot of power tools or a shop or anything like that.

I realize this is a very broad question, but I'm hoping someone has been in this situation before or known someone else who has. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
posted by DMan to Work & Money (21 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Some jobs are flexible and will work with your schedule.

Write for Associated Content.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:03 PM on November 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I made a bit of cash as a geek in college by trawling Craigslist and finding the "Wanted: Computer Help!" ads. I installed stuff, removed malware, fixed the odd broken connector or doodad.

There're actually sometimes ads offering sexual favors in return for computer fixes. Never panned out for me, and it might just be people fucking with poor geeks, but you might get lucky.
posted by Netzapper at 6:06 PM on November 11, 2007

Many colleges have a student worker program, where you can work on the campus, doing tech-support type wiring jobs and the like. At my college, I just told them what hours I would be working each week; doesn't get much more flexible than that.
posted by Hargrimm at 6:06 PM on November 11, 2007

There's been a lot of questions about this in the past. Here are a few:

What part time jobs are available if I want to work from home after my full time job?

How can I work from home?

I need ideas on what job I can do on the side.

What can I do over winter break to make some extra money?

What work-at-home things are available that aren't scams?

Also, try talking to the people at the career center at your college. They're good at finding jobs for students with odd hours.
posted by nitsuj at 6:12 PM on November 11, 2007 [4 favorites]

Oh, yeah, and what Hargrimm said.

That's definitely where most of my beer money came from, once I wised up to the existence of such positions.
posted by Netzapper at 6:13 PM on November 11, 2007

You could probably make some cash helping non-traditional students with computer stuff. Most traditional students come to college with decent computer skills, but slightly older students who are going back to school sometimes need some one-on-one help to get up to speed with stuff like photoshop, word and powerpoint. I've encountered more than a few older grad students who have never used word processing program to write a paper and are horrified about the prospect of putting together a powerpoint presentaiton.

If you are a fast typist, you could also pick up some transcription work. There are lots of grad students who do recorded interviews for their research and are willing to pay people to help them transcribe.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:22 PM on November 11, 2007

If you're organized, sell stuff on ebay. Other students bring you their stuff to sell; you sell it, ship it and keep 40 - 50% for your trouble.
posted by theora55 at 6:32 PM on November 11, 2007

Are you very knowledgeable about a certain topic or creative? Self-publish a book and sell it on Amazon Advantage and/or your website.
posted by rolypolyman at 6:34 PM on November 11, 2007

are there any job openings on campus? for example, working at the front desk of the library or at the front desk of your dorm won't be too difficult and will most likely give you time to study, too.
posted by be11e at 6:36 PM on November 11, 2007

I had the same problem. As a CS major you should have no problem filling the positions I fill if they are available on your campus. I work 2-3 hours a week as dorm tech support, which entails sometimes fixing broken connections...but a lot of time no one is around in the computer lab and I end up getting paid for doing homework. I don't really have to go anywhere except downstairs to the computer lab.

I also work as a webmaster for a department here. I found the position on a job board. It's sometimes challenging, but only a few hours a week and I can do it from my dorm in between doing HW.

Both jobs I set my own hours.
posted by melissam at 6:42 PM on November 11, 2007

Mechanical turk? Definitely flexible (you work as and when you want), but I don't think it's a path to fame and fortune.
posted by baggers at 7:13 PM on November 11, 2007

Make yourself webmaster of some club, and then develop your skills till you're an ace, and start working for lots of other people.

If you want more street cred (at some expense), build guitar effects pedals from online kits and sell them to artsy indie rockers.
posted by tmcw at 7:14 PM on November 11, 2007

I made plenty of beer/food money in college by typing term papers for people. 125wpm paid off.
posted by mrbill at 7:19 PM on November 11, 2007

This isn't an answer, but you have the rest of your life to work, if you have a lot of free time then for the love of god take advantage of it and go out and have fun.. College is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you need to remember to put effort and time into enjoying yourself there.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:48 PM on November 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

bobby digital, you said it! as a recent college grad, unless you're hard up for cash, don't work - instead, play! meet people, go out, volunteer, lots of fun stuff that doesn't necessarily bring monetary gain, but personal gain. you'll have the memories forever!
posted by citystalk at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2007

What Hargrimm and be11e said. My roommate worked at one of the campus computer labs; the hours were flexible and he got a lot of homework done. Grading assignments is also a pretty good deal.
posted by equalpants at 9:22 PM on November 11, 2007

I achieved a 3.8 GPA and lived on campus and did not have a scholarship, but worked lunch and breakfast in the cafeteria. Why don't you do that? It's fun and you get plenty of free food.
posted by parmanparman at 10:34 PM on November 11, 2007

Get a seller account on Amazon. It's SUPER easy. If you buy and sell all your used books on there, you can save a whole lot of money.

Don't bother keeping your textbooks. Well, consider not keeping them. If it's a field that doesn't change much (like calculus), sell the new one for nearly as much as you bought it for and get the previous edition for like $4. The latest edition of a textbook is a perishable good.

Also, professors get sent a lot of textbooks from publishers hoping that they'll adopt it as a book for one of their courses. These books are often given freely when asked for or they can even be found lying in the halls outside professor or department offices (really!). You can make several hundred dollars selling them over the course of a school year if you keep your eyes open for them.

Working in the computer labs is ok - I did that. You get something to put on your resume and some practical IT experience. However, I think that time would be better spent working on research for a good professor for credit (and no money).

If you're going to get a low-paying job, consider doing something that doesn't involve computers - like, oh, tending to some old lady's garden once a week (I know like three guys who do that). Face it, you're a computer guy, you'll always be into computers - do yourself a favor and make yourself more well-rounded.

Good luck!
posted by redteam at 4:45 AM on November 12, 2007

Phone psychic. Or, for that matter, phone sex.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:18 AM on November 12, 2007

If you're in CS, then presumably your math skills don't suck. This (probably) won't work this semester, but you might see if you can get paid for grading math homework. I grade for the lowest-level calculus class my school has to offer. It takes about three or four hours a week, total (might take more for you depending on the size of your university).

The key here is to find a math prof and suck up to them, basically. I got pretty good grades in my own calculus courses, but I'm not an exceptional math student. My profs liked me, though, which is pretty much key - I know people who are much better at math who don't get math tutoring/grading jobs offered to them.
posted by dismas at 7:39 AM on November 12, 2007

Private tutoring for grade-school kids could work. You tell the parents your hours and work something out.
Also, where I went to school there were student media outlets like newspaper, yearbook, TV, radio, etc. that always need computer/web help. A lot of them let the student employees make their own hours as long as they worked x hours per week. You probably won't make a ton of money, but it's enough for putzing around with if all of your expenses are otherwise paid for.
posted by fructose at 10:53 AM on November 12, 2007

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