The Harsh Reality of Earning Money for College 

Ellie Foley and Ellen O’Donnell

With less than three months of school left for SHS seniors, thoughts of college are in the air. One of the most daunting considerations is money–how much should one make for college? What jobs can seniors do to make a good income this summer to keep them afloat during their first year at college? With the money needed for food, transportation, books, and extracurriculars, no one really knows how much money they should make.

According to several current UMass students, seniors should make around $1,000 to $1,500 for their first year at college. However, since UMass dining halls are among the best in the country, students don’t need a lot of extra money for food. For UMass students, money is mostly spent on books and extracurriculars. However, if you’re attending a school like Elon University, located in Elon, North Carolina, your dining hall situation might not be so lucky. In an interview with an Elon student, $3,000 to $5,000 was suggested for food alone. Another student attending Providence College, located in Providence, Rhode Island, said they have already spent $1,000 for food during their first semester. However, they said freshmen could be comfortable with less if they learn and understand how to manage their money. 

In the big picture, every school is different. If you attend a school with a highly rated dining hall, you will spend less money on food and have more money for extracurriculars. Whereas if you attend a school with a lower-rated dining hall, you will spend the majority of your money on food, leaving you with little money for extracurriculars. 

Current college freshmen suggest earning at least $1,000 during the summer for the first year. Of course, saving money starts with managing money and setting financial limits. Make a plan on how much money you are letting yourself spend each week or each month. Consider renting books rather than buying them. Restrain from making impulse decisions, and walk or use public transportation instead of spending money on an Uber or cab. Making meal plans with roommates represents another cost-saving measure. Most important, don’t forget to attend class because you don’t want to waste the money you invested in your tuition.

According to a sophomore at UMass Amherst, there is a lot of downtime at college, which makes it easier to spend money. She suggests joining a club or a group that is free so you have less free time to spend money spontaneously. She also suggests getting an on-campus job that requires a certain amount of hours per week. 

Current seniors in high school are already planning on how they are going to make their money. Posts on Facebook have been increasing about looking for nannying jobs. According to some students, they plan on nannying 4 days a week, working at coffee shops 3-4 days a week, while other students plan on working through DPW 40 hours a week. Students’ jobs range from working 1 job to 3 jobs this summer. Good luck seniors! Summer is grind time!