Jobs that Pay for Your College Degree
Some surveys have found more than 40% of undergraduate students work more than 20 hours a week, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to keep up with school and a job. You may be looking for a job that has flexibility, or may be looking for a job you can do in your spare time. Retail and service industry jobs may be options, but it also pays to consider other avenues for employment.
As many jobs become virtual and employers may be looking more at skill sets and less at current degrees, you may have flexibility in finding a job that doesn’t require a degree.
Some employers may even offer to pay a portion of their employee’s college tuition as a part of their benefits package. Here, some other avenues to consider:
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First Stop: The Career Development Office
Your school likely has a career development office, and it pays to swing by — even if you’re not yet sure what “you want to be when you grow up.” The career development office may have leads, including on-campus jobs, that you could explore.
They can also take a look at your resume, give suggestions of places that may be hiring in your university town, and connect the dots between what you do now toward any careers you may be considering. They may also have intel into paid internships and may be able to connect you to students who are currently working in gigs you’re considering.
Part-Time Jobs to Help Pay for College
Getting a part-time job or finding a side hustle can help students pay for tuition. These jobs offer flexible hours so that students can work around their class schedules.
Some colleges allow approved internships to count as class credit, so if you’re worried about balancing school and work, a paid internship might just do the trick.
Don’t want to work during the school year? Summer can be a great time to focus on a career-boosting internship without distracting you from your coursework.
Securing a paid internship can be competitive, so apply early and make sure your application materials are compelling and complete. Internships can provide valuable learning opportunities and some of the top rated internships even offer the opportunity for full-time employment.
You’ve been hitting the books and now it’s time to put all of that newfound knowledge to good use. You may be paying for your education, but there are also people out there willing to pay you to share what you’ve learned.
Consider tutoring other college students or younger students in your area of expertise. Rates will vary based on location, subject matter, and your experience level.
Many small businesses or entrepreneurs may be looking for someone who can answer their emails, perform odd jobs online, and otherwise provide administrative support. You may look for these gigs online or through your school’s career development office. Before you take on a role, it’s important to know what’s expected: Are they looking for someone to be available during specific hours or could you get everything done on your own time?
Babysitting or Caregiving
Babysitting can be another option if you’re looking for flexibility. You can schedule jobs for weekends or nights if you’re worried about work conflicting with your school schedule. As a bonus, you may be able to squeeze in some studying while the little ones are asleep.
Caregiving isn’t just limited to little kids. You may find meaningful roles working with elderly or ill people who need help, either with day-to-day tasks or with errand running, housekeeping, or even just keeping someone company while they shop.
Having flexibility during the day can mean everything for people who work 9 to 5 and need someone to care for Fido. Consider working for a walking service rather than striking it out on your own: It may provide guaranteed hours or jobs, so you can get to know the pooches you work with.
Give a Ride or do Deliveries
Driving for a ride-sharing service or performing delivery duties can be good to fit with college: You can fit the job with your schedule, and you can make good money. But it can be helpful to know what you’re signing up for, to know any stipulations regarding the type of car you can drive, and know how to manage expectations. It can also be helpful to talk to locals to get the lay of the land — national earnings surveys may be very different from your local area, and it can be helpful to anticipate just how much demand there might be before you sign on.
Focus on Where You Hang Out
Whether you’re always at the gym or love being outdoors, look for a gig that allows you to do more of what you love. See if your favorite cafe is hiring or ask about opportunities at the yoga studio you love. Even if they don’t have gigs, some small businesses offer “service swaps” where you might be able to score free classes for some light work. It pays to ask!
Strike up a Side Hustle
Selling earrings online? Becoming a social media sensation? Now more than ever, it can be relatively easy to start a business. But “easy” isn’t the same as effortless. While you may be able to create momentum posting from your phone, you do need to set aside time, startup costs, and expenses to make something work. But talk to other student entrepreneurs and see how they’ve handled the demands of school and being their own boss. And if you sign up for any program as an ambassador, sales person, or independent consultant, read the fine print and know what’s expected of you before you dive in.
Consider Companies That Pay Your Tuition
Part-time jobs can be one option to help you pay for college, but what if you can find a job that not only pays you a salary but also pays for tuition? There are some major companies that offer stipends or reimbursements toward college tuition or expenses like books.
But before you apply, make sure you fully understand the terms of tuition reimbursement. Some companies may have tuition caps. It’s also important to consider how you might balance studying and working full or part-time. Talking to employees who have done it, or seeking out stories on social media, may help you get a better sense of how the program works and whether it makes sense for your life.
If you’re looking for a job, consider asking recruiters or the HR department if they offer tuition assistance. They may be able to pay for certain coursework if it’s relevant to your career path or may have a less-publicized educational benefit to offer employees. Because employers are fighting for talent, it may be that they may add additional benefits to attract potential hires.
Here are a few national companies that have well-publicized tuition reimbursement policies:
At Best Buy , full-time employees are eligible for up to $3,500 for undergrad and $5,250 for graduate level coursework.
As a part of their benefits package, Comcast offers tuition assistance.
Employees at Smucker’s may be eligible for the company’s tuition assistance program. Smucker’s also offers select scholarship opportunities to employees.
At Publix , associates with six months of continuous service who work an average of 10 hours a week are eligible to participate in the company’s tuition reimbursement program.
Starbucks is often front and center on these lists for a reason: They partner with Arizona State University (ASU) to create the Starbucks College Achievement Plan which offers 100% tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. All employees eligible for benefits (this includes part-time employees) may take advantage of this program.
If an employee doesn’t qualify for admission to ASU, they can take part in the Pathway to Admission program, which will help them qualify for admission, tuition-free.
Think About Your First Job Out Of School
The other benefit of working during college: You can figure out what you do (and don’t) want to do for a living. It can also be helpful to assess certain job paths, including how much they may pay entry-level employees. While there are always lists of most and least lucrative majors, the reality is that your major doesn’t necessarily determine your career path. Talk to alums, your career development office and people a few years out of school and have them give you the lowdown on their job path.
Right now, there is demand for talent and employers may be sweetening compensation packages — even for entry-level employees. It’s also important to consider not just your salary, but what benefits may come into play. For example, some companies offer assistance paying off student loans, which can pay off for you. Major household names like Penguin Random House, Aetna, Live Nation, and Fidelity Investments offer loan forgiveness assistance programs to employees.
And it can also be helpful to use some of the money you make during your undergrad years to save for the future. That way, you have some wiggle room when you graduate. Creating and living off a budget can also be incredibly helpful in preparing you for life in “the real world.”
Taking on a part-time gig can help students pay for their college tuition. Some companies may also offer tuition reimbursement or assistance programs for part- or full-time employees pursuing higher education. These programs may have specific requirements, such as attending a certain school working a set number of hours per week, so be sure you understand the requirements.
When money from working and federal aid aren’t enough, some students may consider private student loans. Private lenders aren’t required to follow the same regulations as federal student loans, and as a result, don’t always offer the same borrower protections or benefits – such as income driven repayment plans. That’s why they are most often considered an option after all other financing resources have been exhausted.
SoFi offers private student loans that have no fees. Borrowers are also able to take advantage of SoFi member programs such as career counseling.
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