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How to Get Into & Pay for College

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Launch Your Dorm Room Empire

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By: Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.

Gen and Kelly Tanabe can answer your question in Expert Advice.




Turn your car into a money machine on wheels.

Having a car on campus usually means that you are special—particularly in urban areas where student vehicles are rare and parking is scarce. If you have a car, take advantage of your four-wheeled power by using it to transport goods that are difficult for students to get.

One student used his truck to bring in a whole cord of firewood to his Boston college. With the temperatures dropping, he unloaded all the wood to dorm mates by selling small bundles for a few dollars. He made a 500 percent profit that helped keep him warm that winter.

What else can you transport? How about mattresses, carpets or furniture? Find the stores that are just far enough away from campus to make carrying a futon difficult and poster the telephone poles with your offer to deliver.




Tutor and teach for treasures.

Tutoring is a great source of income if you are strong in a particular subject. For example, if you have a knack for economics and got an "A" in Economics 101, poster the lecture hall the following year and offer to tutor anyone who is having trouble in the class. A more aggressive approach would be to arrive at the lecture early and make an announcement before the class starts. (Get the professor's permission first.)

Another lucrative area is tutoring high school students in core subjects as well as for the SAT, ACT or other standardized tests. Just be sure you still remember how to prove those theorems before you advertise yourself as a geometry tutor! Make an appointment with the guidance counselor of the nearest high school and ask for help informing students that you are available for tutoring.

Pricing for tutoring is usually by the hour and ranges between $15 and $25. However, consider giving a discount to students who are willing to sign up for regular sessions. For example, you might charge $150 for 10 one-hour sessions to practice for the SAT.




Get paid to talk.

With almost half a million international students attending U.S. colleges, most campuses have a sizable international population, especially during summers. Many of these students are struggling to refine their English skills, and for many international students, it is difficult to find students with the patience to help them practice conversational English.

Teaching conversational English is not difficult—you need to be able to explain concepts and have patience. International students find it especially difficult to learn idioms and slang. Advertise where international students live and near the classes they take. You can do one-on-one private lessons or organize a group. Rates for private lessons are usually between $15 and $25 per hour and for group lessons you might charge only a third of that per student.




Be your professor's sidekick.

Do you have a favorite course? Ask the professor if you can be a research assistant. Usually this means going to the library and researching topics about which the professor is writing. Make sure you like the subject your professor is working on!

Often professors have grant money to help them with their research and this includes money for research assistants. You will probably compete with graduate students so you must demonstrate your abilities. You'll usually have to accept the rate the professor is offering, but remember that you will also be learning more about your field and getting to know the professor.


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