The Best Side Activities for College Students

For students looking to earn extra money – perhaps to offset rising costs during their undergraduate years – high school scrambles can provide an additional source of income.

Side hustles have become a particularly lucrative business for Gen Z, with 59% having a side gig in 2022. Gen Zers earned an average of $9,537 per year from their side hustles, according to a May 2022 Zapier Survey.

Students, in particular, are turning to secondary activities because of their general flexibility, M’Chelle Ryan, director of Upwork Academy, told CNBC Make It. Upwork Academy is a program dedicated to connecting students with secondary and professional resources.

“Freelance work allows you a lot more freedom and control over hours, timing, and skills,” Ryan says. “And students are now seeking and demanding higher paying opportunities rather than what we used to see in the traditional gig economy.”

Given the tough employment trends over the past few years, side hustles also allow students to take charge of their own sources of income, Ryan says.

Securing side hustles in today’s work environment

A growing number of Americans between the ages of 16 and 22 are working or actively seeking work, as reported by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics as of August 2022. The number of job opportunities is also increasing, says Toni Frana, careers expert at FlexJobs.

“We have seen an increase in the number of remote job offers, part-time and full-time, every year since the start of the pandemic,” says Frana. “There are opportunities in a part-time field for people looking to find an extra source of income while they go to college to help with their income and savings until they graduate. “

When students begin the process of finding side activities, they should first think about how much time they are willing and able to commit, Frana explains. Establishing time constraints and personal schedules will help students better navigate freelance job platforms.

“It is helpful for a student to first know which direction they would like to go, and then determine if they want to work five hours a week, 10, 20 hours a week. Do this self-audit to find out how much time you have really, so you can avoid overloading yourself with whatever work you want to do,” says Frana.

Likewise, it’s important to consider your strengths and interests when looking for the best fit for sideways bustle, says Frana. Those with a knack for writing, for example, might be better suited for editing-based side hustles, while those majoring in design might seek positions with an artistic bent.

Both Ryan and Frana shared their thoughts on the best hustles for current college students. The best options, they say, allow for remote working and maximum schedule flexibility. Here are their top six:

1. Content Writer

How much does it pay: Around $37/hour

Content writers generate written content for brands, including articles featuring services and products. This side hustle option might be suitable for students pursuing a degree in communications, English, or journalism.

2. SAT/ACT Prep Tutor

How much does it pay: Around $22/hour

For those who score well on standardized tests, SAT and/or ACT prep tutoring can be a lucrative option. Standardized test tutoring is also a remote hustle that allows for more scheduling flexibility, Frana says.

3. Brand Ambassador or Social Media Manager

How much does it cost: Around $19/hour

Brand ambassadors partner with businesses to promote their content through social media. For those who enjoy social media and content creation, brand ambassadors and social media management might be a good fit, Frana says.

4. Virtual Assistant

How much does it pay: Around $34/hour

​​For those with a knack for organizing, virtual assistant side gigs may be an option. Virtual assistant positions typically require students to answer emails, schedule meetings, organize travel plans, and keep track of schedules.

Salaries for virtual assistants vary, but the position is remote and can allow students to work while enrolled in classes.

5. Graphic designer

How much does it pay: Around $32/hour

The hustle and bustle possibilities on the graphic design side allow those with creative and artistic skills to visualize and create graphics, illustrations, logos, and layouts. These gigs can often be short-term opportunities, providing students with great flexibility.

6. Food Delivery

How much does it pay: Around $19/houralthough salary varies depending on location

College campuses are often in high demand for food delivery services, and students can take advantage of this by working for companies such as DoorDash, Postmates, or Uber Eats.

Food delivery, whether done by bike, scooter or car, allows students to earn money whenever they have time in their busy schedules.

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