College Connect: Earning money on the side

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As a graduate student, I’m not exactly making the big bucks. I have a graduate assistantship working as an assistant news editor at the Columbia Missourian that grants me a tuition waiver and an above-minimum wage. I still, however, have more out in students loan than I’m comfortable with so I spend a fair amount of time picking up extra hours at the Missourian or looking for odd jobs.

You can sell three types of things to make money: your time, your skills or your possessions. The easiest way for me to increase my income is to pick up more shifts at my day job. I volunteer for extra assignments and Saturday nights without hesitation. Most folks don’t like to work on the weekends, but I don’t mind. My work as an assistant news editor improves the skills I’ll need in my future career, and I like having the reputation of a reliable, hard worker.

In fact, my work ethic and skill at the Missourian led a boss to recommend me for a onetime freelance editing job in town. The freelance gig paid more than twice my hourly rate at the Missourian, and after making a good first impression, I was asked to continue editing for the client on a freelance basis. The lesson: Do a good job, and you might be asked to do more.

When it comes to side jobs, think about the skills you already possess. I’m the second-oldest of four girls and I have experience working with children, so baby-sitting is an easy job I’m often asked to do. It’s not exactly glamorous, but well-trusted young women can easily make $10-20 per hour baby-sitting. And baby-sitting might beget house- or pet-sitting, both of which can pay comparably.

As gimmicky as it sounds, I’ve also made extra cash by taking online surveys at and Each survey is worth a money value or points, which you can then redeem for gift certificates or other rewards. Online surveys aren’t the route to take if you’re in dire straits, but by taking a couple of surveys each week for some months, I’ve earned $25 gift certificates to Barnes and Noble and Target. The time you spend surfing social media could easily be spent taking just a single 15-minute survey, and in a few months, you’ve earned a gift certificate. is another website worth mentioning. At Recyclebank, you watch online videos, play games or read short articles about being green to earn points. You can’t redeem the points for cash, but you can redeem them for magazine subscriptions, coupons and gift certificates. I find the magazine subscriptions most worthwhile, and they make perfect gifts. It’s fairly easy to rack up enough points for a single subscription, taking only an hour or so.

The final way I earn money: I sell my possessions. I’m preparing to move across the country next semester, and I’m unloading some things I don’t need, including unflattering clothes, my bulky desk and a skateboard leftover from my middle-school years imitating Tony Hawk. I generally rely on Plato’s Closet to sell my clothes and Craigslist or word-of-mouth to sell the rest. I’m finding graduate school to be a time of less is more, so I’m carefully parsing down my stash of material things.

In the end, everything has a price, including your time. If you’re looking to earn some extra money on the side, think about what you can offer others and the time or resources you’re willing to dedicate to earn income (and whether that is worth it).


 Alexandria Baca is a graduate student studying print and digital journalism at the University of Missouri.

SABEW - Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
Arizona State University

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