When you’re in college, you may want — or need — to do more than study and socialize. Working at an on-campus job can be a great way to stay busy, meet new people, learn new skills, and make some extra money.
You can find on-campus jobs on your own or, if you’re eligible, through the Federal Work-Study program. Read on for a basic guide to working on campus, including how work-study differs from regular part-time jobs, the benefits of working on campus, and a listing of top student job options you may want to apply for.
Work-Study vs. Part-Time Jobs
The Federal Work-Study program offers part-time jobs for undergraduate as well as graduate students who have financial need so they can earn money to pay for their education. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is the first step in applying for this aid. Not all colleges and universities participate in the Federal Work-Study program, so it’s a good idea to check with the financial aid office at your school to see if it’s an option.
Work-study jobs are open to both part- and full-time students, and the program encourages those who are awarded this aid to find work related to their major. For example, a science major may be able to get a work-study job as a lab assistant in the chemistry department. These jobs may be either on- or off-campus, the former usually in a campus department and the latter typically at a non-profit organization or a public agency. Students will earn at least the federal minimum wage, and their work-study award will be based on when they apply, their level of financial need, and their school’s funding level.
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The Benefits of Having an On-campus Job
You can look for a regular part-time job on campus on your own. The pay will vary, and the job might not have anything to do with your major, but there are still benefits to working on campus. You can save money to pay for your education or any other expenses like food, transportation, and entertainment, plus you’ll get valuable work experience, no matter the field.
Both work-study jobs or regular part-time jobs that relate to your major can boost your skills, which you can list on your resume, potentially giving you a leg up in your post-college job search.
Jobs also offer socializing and networking opportunities. You can make new friends, as well as connections that might be helpful when you’re looking for internships during college and job after you graduate.
The Top On-Campus Jobs
1. Tour Guide
Being a campus tour guide through the admission’s office requires having great interpersonal skills and a willingness to commit a lot of facts and information about your school to memory. Campus tour guides take prospective students and their families on tours of campus while giving details about different majors, activities, events, and the many other things that their school has to offer.
2. Resident Assistant
A resident assistant, or RA, lives in a dorm on campus and supervises a group of students living in that dorm, often on the same hall. Their responsibility is to make sure students are following the dorm rules and to offer support if students need anything. Typically, an RA will get free or discounted housing.
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Students who excel in a particular subject may want to consider becoming a tutor. This on-campus job allows students to teach others what they are good at and help their peers have a better understanding of the subject.
4. Campus Newspaper Editor
Students who love to write, edit, and manage a team of reporters will likely enjoy working as a campus newspaper editor. This is typically not a job that students can get right away. They may have to work their way up after holding other positions on the staff in their freshman, sophomore, and/or junior years.
Some schools have a café on campus where students can go to get caffeinated and study well into the night for their exams. Being a barista will teach student workers people skills and how to make the perfect Americano.
6. Library Assistant
Another one of the on-campus jobs that students can apply for is library assistant. They will re-shelve books as well as help other students find and check out the books they need.
7. Admissions Assistant
Being a tour guide isn’t the only job students can take on in the admission’s office. They can also assist with data entry, communicate with prospective students and families on the phone and through email, and help out with any other administrative work around the office. Learning administrative work can be useful, since it’s a necessary skill for many different kinds of jobs.
8. Mailroom Attendant
As a mailroom attendant, students will sort incoming mail and help other students retrieve their packages.
9. Dining Hall Server
Students might find on-campus jobs at the dining halls on their campuses. They can serve meals and maybe even get to take home free food at the end of the day.
10. Bookstore Associate
Campus bookstores tend to be busy places, especially just before classes start, when students buy their textbooks and other school supplies. The end of each semester can also be a busy time, due to returns and memorabilia shopping. As a bookstore associate, workers will typically need to stock shelves with books and merchandise and learn how to use a point-of-sale system.
Schools with pools need lifeguards to keep students safe. Students with summer lifeguard experience in their hometown may be able to sign up for this on-campus job when they go back to school in the fall.
12. Research Assistant
Department faculty may need assistants to help them with research. Duties of a research assistant can vary, but might include data collection, putting together grant materials, managing email, or maintaining a department website.
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13. Fitness Center Attendant
If there is a gym on campus, students can apply to work there. They may scan student IDs at the check-in desk, wipe down equipment, sell healthy food and smoothies at the gym café, and organize the equipment when the gym closes for the day.
14. Administrative Assistant
Different offices on campus could be looking for administrative assistants. Tasks include everything from sorting mail to doing data entry and answering telephone calls and emails.
15. IT Assistant
Students who enjoy working with computers may find on-campus jobs in the IT department. They can help other students with computer issues, like not being able to connect to the school Wi-Fi or trouble using the campus printers.
16. Museum or Gallery Assistant
If a school has an art museum or gallery, they may employ students as assistants. Students majoring in art may enjoy this on-campus job, where they may give tours, work in the gift shop, and/or check-in visitors.
17. Marketing Assistant
College marketing departments create materials to promote the school. Students who are interested in marketing or communication may want to apply for one of these on-campus jobs and learn valuable skills like email marketing, social media marketing, and copywriting. They may write blog posts for the school website and create flyers for prospective students and families.
18. Lab Assistant
Students who are majoring in the sciences may be able to find on-campus jobs in their schools’ laboratories. They might help other students with lab experiments, set up and organize labs, and prepare chemical solutions.
19. Radio DJ
If a school has a radio station, students might have the opportunity to become radio DJs, playing music that they love and hosting different programs. Other duties may include ordering new equipment, securing rights to the music they play, and setting up and breaking down the station as necessary.
20. Endowment Office Assistant
Some schools might have internship or future job.
💡 Quick Tip: Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too. You can submit it as early as Oct. 1.
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Putting That Money to Work
Work-study students are paid directly by their school unless they request to have their earnings deposited into a bank account or applied to their school account (to cover things like tuition, fees, or room and board).
Whether you take on a work-study or regular part-time job, it’s a good opportunity to learn basic budgeting, putting most of your earnings towards necessities, some into savings, and spending some on fun. Earning money from a part-time job is a great opportunity to learn basic money management, which is an important life skill.
Even with income from a part-time job, however, you might still be stressed about money and how you will cover all of your college expenses. To be sure you’re getting all the financial aid you’re entitled to, make certain that you fill out the FAFSA every year. This will let you know if you’re eligible for grants, scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans (which may be subsidized or unsubsidized).
If you still have gaps in funding, you might also look into getting a private student loan. These are available through private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Loan limits vary from lender to lender, but you can often get up to the total cost of attendance, which gives you more borrowing power than with the federal government. Interest rates vary depending on the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.
Keep in mind, though, that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-based repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.
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