Spare-Time Work for College Students
A recent issue of the Atlantic Monthly contains a very startling article, entitled, "College and the Poor Boy," written by Russell T. Sharpe, Secretary for Student Employment at Harvard College. The article expounds the problem of student employment, and the author phrases his reluctantly derived conclusions as follows: "If, then, the level of financial aid cannot be raised to the level of need, if the burden of worry and overwork which so many students are carrying today is to be lightened, the volume of need must be reduced. There is only one way in which this can be done, and that is by limiting the number of needy men admitted to college."
In other words, he proposes that our American colleges make the capacity to pay a criterion for admission.
At the present time there are approximately 1,000,000 students enrolled in our 1,068 institutions of higher learning. Of these 1,000,000 students, nearly one-half (46 per cent) of all college men are making some effort to earn at least a part of their college expenses. One out of every four college women is contributing to her own support while attending college. So that one out of every three college students, or over 330,000 are partially self-supporting. Were Mr. Sharpe's recommendation, that capacity to pay become one of the criterions for admission to college, over 330,000 students now enrolled would not have been admitted. What then becomes of the battle cry of our American Democracy: "equality of opportunity?"
Were Mr. Sharpe acquainted with the facts collected by The U.S. Bureau of Education on "Self Help for College Students," it is questionable whether he would have ventured so boldly in his recommendation.
The Bureau of Education Bulletin reveals the fact that 162,413 men and 33,856 women students in 611 colleges reporting, showed combined earnings of $32,500,000 during term time. The 457 institutions not included were unable to make estimates of any kind, but most indicated a large percentage of self-help students.
The average amount earned was $169 for men and $149 for women.
The following outlines about three hundred methods employed by students to earn part or whole tuition from the information gathered by the Bureau of Education and listed in Bulletin No.2. Any high school student who is doubtful about the opportunities for working his way through college, any student now in college and doubtful about opportunities for earning part of his present tuition will find the following suggestions very helpful.
TRADES—Although the large majority of students have no trade, many mature students report that they are making money at several varieties of trades or near-trades. In the building trades a few are working as carpenters doing odd jobs, paper-hangers, plasterers, mason's helpers, and house painters, mostly for citizens in private homes. Pay for piece work or in some cases by the day ranges from $3.50 up while others are employed at the regular wage scales. For the student of art, color and design, interior decorating is profitable; a knowledge of period furniture, fabrics, woods, color harmony, and balance, are essentials of this work. The pay is generally good because only the well-to-do employ decorators. Similar to interior decorating is window dressing. In stores which do not employ a regular window dresser, students are often able to get part-time work of a regular nature, and they frequently serve several stores. For expert work the pay is excellent. Electricians work in many capacities. To become a sub-station operator at least four weeks of training is required of a high-school graduate. There is often time to study while on such work. The work is in three shifts of eight hours each and the two night operators usually alternate shifts. The wage has been reported as 60 cents per hour. Many cities require electricians to be registered before wiring houses or doing electrical repair work although almost any high-school boy knows enough about electricity to do simple repairs or to mend appliances. Wiring switches, winding electrical units, and working on electric ranges in a manufacturing concern paid one girl 37½ cents per hour. Many students with a knowledge of radio construct, install, and repair sets, and a few act as radio announcers at local stations.
Some students with previous experience have done watch repairing at good pay. Those with a knowledge of photography take pictures of the college buildings and groups to sell to the student body, do finishing for amateurs, color photographs, and make enlargements. The college dark room is usually available for such outside work. A Kansas man writes, "It is lucky that I am a shoemaker by trade and hold down a job that pays about $12 per week as on this my brother and myself are able to go nine months to school." Barbering requires little time to learn, can be done in spare time and is fairly profitable when done either in local shops or independently in the college rooms. With the present vogue for bobbed hair, beauty shops are furnishing a means for college girls to earn money by cutting hair, bobbing, shampooing, manicuring. The work is easy to learn, the expense small, and the duties can be performed in spare time on the campus or in the local beauty shops. Some students work independently at cut rates using professional cards for advertising among the women students. Enough money to pay for board and room has been earned by college girls at this work.
Self-supporting students who know how to do dressmaking make their own clothes and sew for other students, but the pay is small. Others work at millinery either independently or in the shops, sometimes filling in the dull season by making silk lamp shades. Piece work of this kind pays a fair compensation.
In the mechanical trades a few students are qualified to work part time or during summers in engineering departments of supply companies, or on highways. Fifty dollars per month has been reported for such work afternoons and Saturdays. With a knowledge of shop practice, working drawings, bench work, drilling, floor work, a few find employment as machinists or mechanics' helpers, but previous experience is essential; regular wages are paid for this work. Woodturning mills offer work to a few at wages from $15 per week and up. In several industrial cities such as Akron, Detroit, Chicago, etc., many students work their way as factory hands. Rubber factories run on three shifts. The third from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. is the most popular with students. Experiment stations offer such technical jobs as testing lubrication and fuel oils, treating, ore, etc., while practical work of the same nature is to be found in manufacturing plants and mines.
AUTOMOBILE EMPLOYMENT—Certain colleges have prohibited freshmen and sophomores from owning or operating cars, but special permission to do so may be granted to students who use automobiles as a means of self-support. Some faculty members doubt the advisability of permitting students to act as taxi drivers, but with proper authority many students earn money either by driving their own taxis or by driving for local companies which pay them about 25 per cent of the fares secured. Employment with private families as chauffeurs sometimes provides board and room and in the summer a money compensation in addition. Sometimes two or more students buy an auto truck for the purpose of running light delivery services for merchants or students. By taking turns the truck is kept busy all of the time with profits sometimes running as high as $65 per week. Garages employ students as auto mechanics on part time and pay from 40 cents an hour and up. Washing and greasing cars at a charge of $2 or more per car affords some students substantial incomes. Employment as filling station attendants on part time pays about $25 per week. Those who are good drivers give driving lessons at 50 cents or more per hour. Others are engaged in the varied lines of automobile employment such as selling accessories, parts, cars, as well as battery and tire repairing.
OFFICE AND CLERICAL WORK—College departments, business houses, and local merchants offer a variety of office work for students who are seeking part-time employment. Office work, including shorthand and typewriting is easily learned and pays according to the qualifications and responsibilities of the clerk. Part-time jobs pay from 30 to 60 cents an hour and a few 80 cents or more; pay by the month varies from $20 to $50 or more. Secretarial work, stenography, stencil cutting, mimeographing, addressing envelopes, billing, mailing, and filing are ordinary jobs in any business house or college office which have furnished many students with unlimited opportunities to earn money during term time. General office clerks and statisticians are frequently employed part time or on special jobs. Extra post office clerks are usually employed during holiday and rush periods. Civil service jobs furnish steady employment for many students who are earning an education. Local libraries employ library clerks at 25 to 40 cents an hour or $60 up per month on full time. College libraries employ students as assistants at prices varying from 25 cents per hour and up and many report that they have earned from $25 to $40 per month at these jobs. A few earn their way by issuing supplies in dining rooms, laboratories, and college departments. In a city Young Men's Christian Association a night desk clerk was paid $50 per month with room and ample time to study on the job. An Oregon man was night clerk for the Western Union 24 hours per week at $30 per month. A Tulane man worked as night dispatcher for a motor league dispatching service trucks, etc., at $10 per week.
TELEPHONE OPERATOR is an excellent job for many students. An Akron student was switchboard operator for a rubber company on the night shift from 5 to 12 p.m. at 50 cents an hour with time to study on the job. A Detroit man earned $90 per month at this work during term time, and $130 during the summer. Girls often work in offices of professional men answering the telephone and doorbell. A Wellesley girl earned 20 cents an hour by this work. Hundreds of students find employment at meal times as cashiers in cafeterias or restaurants, receiving as compensation board, and sometimes more. Theaters and movies also employ students for this work on part time. Work as timekeeper for laborers, mill hands, and clerks, is often available; one man reports 60 cents per hour as his wage. Many law students find part-time legal work in the local lawyers' offices where the small pay is supplemented by the practical experience obtained. A few are employed as information clerks in various organizations, including women's clubs, at $60 per month and up. Insurance companies employ men as insurance investigators to investigate claims; the pay is liberal. Banks employ students in spare time and on Saturdays as bank runners. Messengers and pages are employed by legislative bodies as well as business offices and express companies. A page in the United States House of Representatives earned $3.50 per day; others earn as much as 65 cents an hour. General office and clerical work frequently pays the entire expenses of a student who must work his way through college.
SALES AND RENTALS—Selling, especially in summer, is in general the most profitable work for the self-supporting student. With little experience, a large amount of self-confidence, and a strong determination students make alluring profits and gain a worth-while experience at specialty selling. Much of this work is house to house canvassing and the sale of books, hardware, magazines, maps, wood, coal, candy, calling cards, chautauqua desks, nursery stock, silk hosiery, silk underwear, floor oil and wax, jewelry, greeting cards, maple syrup, self-heating flatirons, and aluminum utensils often bring big earnings. Although manufacturers and merchants advertise for agents through the student employment bureaus and newspapers, comparatively few students accept these opportunities from choice. Selling to students on the college campus offers a field which a few universities are managing by student agencies described later in this bulletin. Considerable sums have been earned on the campus by concessions for the sale of food, apples, belts, fobs, pillows, souvenirs, banners, engraved cards, novelties, and jewelry. Last year 350 Yale men earned nearly $40,000 through the student agencies; 36 men in the student laundry agency earned $5,693; 53 men in the student suit pressing agency earned $9,892; 65 men who played for dances earned $6,140. A sandwich company in Dartmouth College made $200 the first year it was established and $1,200 four years later. Magazine subscriptions are profitable for many and can be obtained by mail. Student exchanges provide a means of disposing of arts and crafts work. Insurance companies make good propositions to their salesmen. Sales clerks find employment in the department stores during rush seasons and Saturdays; this work pays $2 per day and up. A large number of self-supporting students find work as drug, soda, and cigar clerks, as pharmacist, etc., in the local drug stores. The pay varies with the qualifications of the employee. At the soda fountain the compensation is from 30 to 45 cents per hour, 10 to 30 hours per week, and is generally too exacting to be profitable while attending college. Other jobs pay from $60 to $175 per month for full-time work. A few find employment in the local markets tending vegetable stands at $12 per week for 30 or more hours of service. College boarding houses pay a commission to the student who gets new boarders to eat at the house; this job, known as table runner, pays about 10 per cent board credit. A few students take orders for hemstitching, picoting, plaiting, button making, cleaning, dyeing, etc., while others work in such shops. Rentals are also profitable if properly managed. Renting agent arrangements ate made with companies who rent typewriters, pianos, sewing machines, musical instruments, and furniture. Where colleges are located near the water, student boatmen rent canoes and boats during their spare time, especially during holidays. The work of sales and rentals pays from $10 to $20 per week, while commissions on house to house canvassing are reported as high as $200 a month. In general the more energy exerted in the selling game the greater the returns.
ARTS AND CRAFTS—Useful and decorative hand-made objects are originated continually for holiday trade. Both men and girls commercialize their talents and originality by offering their products for sale. Wooden novelties, metal craft, painted objects, dyed material, tinted photographs, lamp-shade creations, winter bouquets of straw flowers, etc., find a ready market at regular store prices. In the line of commercial art, students of drawing with some experience have been able to earn considerable sums for pictorial illustrations sold to magazines and newspapers. These pen and ink illustrations include pictures of shoes, hats, clothing, furniture, and utensils advertised in the daily papers. Posters in water colors advertise church and club entertainments; show cards and posters in department stores are often painted with tempera colors, while signs and pictures of a more permanent nature are usually in oils. The compensation for this work, which is by the piece, varies with the execution, and the student should have his portfolio ready for exhibition when he markets his work. Students who do china painting often organize clubs for the sale of their products or paint to order. Painted lamp-shades in parchment and other materials are popular. Sealing-wax craft is easily learned. Evening dresses, shawls, and scarfs are painted in a variety of mediums. Greeting cards which are hand-painted bring good prices. Much of this work which can be learned in the department stores, brings fair commissions with small outlay. An artist's model poses for 15 to 20 minutes with 5-minute rest periods; students who pose for art classes are paid from 75 cents to $1 per hour. Picture framing is done in the local stores or independently by self-help students; the work, which is easy to learn, gives a fair return on a small investment. Many ex-service men in the hospitals learned to make craft jewelry; with a book of instruction from a library, an alcohol lamp, blowpipe, pincers, wire and solder, many artistic pieces can be made at small outlay and are readily saleable at large profits. Students sell their products through gift shops or student exchanges where their work is left on sale.
PROFESSIONAL AND SEMI-PROFESSIONAL—Theological students are often employed either to fill in or as regular pastors in the local churches. Many schools make special rates to sons and daughters of ministers, and to those who intend to study for the ministry. A few students who are registered pharmacists with four years' experience in drug-store work find employment in their field. Several are able to arrange exhibits in museums besides doing other technical work. With a knowledge of mechanical drawing some are employed as draftsmen, tracers, assistants, or blue printers in architects' offices. Semi-professional work is well paid with compensation ranging from 75 cents per hour and up, according to the work.
INSTRUCTORS AND ASSISTANTS—Some students are qualified to teach in the local schools either as regular or substitute teachers. Sometimes this work is done in term time and sometimes alternated with college courses. Tutoring is agreeable work with compensation which varies with the ability of the tutor from 50 cents to $3 per hour. Many students are engaged in this work and find it profitable and desirable. Evening-school teachers employed for two or three hours several evenings per week are often students supplementing their income by teaching in these local schools. The colleges use student instructors in certain departments at varying wages. A Tulane man earned $95 per month. A few find the sale of copies of daily lectures profitable but a knowledge of stenography and typewriting is necessary in order to get out the mimeographed sheets. Proctors preserve order at the examinations, study halls, and dormitories. The compensation for this work is cash by the hour or room rent. Music lessons for children are popular employment and students are often employed to teach piano, organ, voice, violin, mandolin, and orchestral and band instruments. Bridge lessons, driving (automobile) lessons, golf lessons, and a variety of other lessons are frequently taken by the citizens of the town if proper advertisement is made by the teacher. Instruction of these types is fairly well paid and the time and effort required are slight and interfere little with regular college classes.
Colleges employ students in various capacities as assistants in laboratories to supervise certain laboratory work of the science classes; in libraries for cataloguing, issuing, and receiving books; to supervise music practice, to check athletic and chapel attendance, to assist in giving physical examinations, to play the chapel organ for services, and to ring the chapel bell calling students to and from classes and meetings. Stereopticon and movie operators assist during class demonstrations and entertainments; college departments employ readers to correct papers and examinations; professors use assistants for various purposes; experiment stations employ students for technical work. In general, the college assistantships pay small wages, but are desirable because they are on the campus and in close contact with both faculty and students, whereas town teaching jobs pay better but are more exacting in time and effort. Independent tutoring pays well for the self-supporting student providing a sufficient number of clients can be obtained.
PUBLISHING—Printing and journalism in various forms have been profitable to many self-help students. Journalism, feature writing, and reporting for newspapers is paid for by the column-inch while the basis for compensation for magazines is ordinarily by the number of words in an article. At some colleges and universities are press clubs whose members are correspondents for the large metropolitan newspapers. For part-time work students report that they have made from $12 to $35 per week; in 1925 the students in journalism at the University of Wisconsin earned more than $2,000 by writing special articles for publication, and 51 Harvard men earned nearly $9,000 at various kinds of newspaper work. Only upper classmen are eligible as editors, or business managers, of the college publications because considerable time must be devoted to the work; $20 per week for this work has been reported. Many are employed on part time to prepare advertising copy for stores, agencies, and newspapers, or to sell space in publications or programs. Local merchants pay for space on large desk blotters which are printed and given free to the students. The blotter project netted two Yale men $620. Weekly fees are often paid for advertising service. Print shops offer work for proofreading, typesetting, and linotype operation for those qualified; the compensation ranges from 40 cents an hour for ordinary work to $1.05 (minimum) per hour for linotype operators. Companies which publish the city directory employ students without previous experience on work which can be done in spare time. One Texas student published a faculty and student directory which netted him over $200.
SERVICE—On occasion students are often appointed by the chief of police as special policemen. Advanced Reserve Officers' Training Corps work may be elected by juniors and seniors on certain conditions. The United States Government pays commutation of subsistence at 30 cents per day as fixed by the Secretary of War, not exceeding two years; credit for graduation is also given for these courses in institutions which maintain Reserve Officers' Training Corps units. A few find employment in summer as forest rangers—a Wyoming student worked as forest service lookout at $100 per month, less $20 expenses. Men are employed as night watchmen in banks and business houses; five Columbia students were so employed during term time with plenty of opportunity to study on the job. An Alabama student served as superintendent of inspection with a pipe and fittings company at $125 per month. A Kansas man was supervisor of a concrete construction gang, City gas companies often pay 65 cents per hour for students employed as foremen, Gas and electric companies employ lamp lighters to light the city streets at rates of about 45 cents per lamp per month. Collectors are employed by merchants, professional men, and newspapers to collect his bills over certain routes; the work done in spare time or evenings has paid $60 or more per month for four hours' daily work, Distributing circulars for printing houses and merchants is temporary employment; where contracts are made with large manufacturers for the distribution of advertising matter and samples the work is more profitable. Local conditions determine the amount and character of public service as well as the compensation.
TRANSPORTATION—Railroad agents are employed stations during rush periods, In the summer many are employed as extra Pullman conductors at $150 per month and sleeping quarters, but the practice of employing students in this capacity is being discontinued in favor of more permanent extras. Steamboat companies use students in the summer as pursers to account for tickets, freight, etc.; this occupation provides a pleasant and profitable vacation on the water. Some arrange tours and conduct parties during the summer; lecturers on the sight-seeing buses are frequently college students. Student trucking companies arrange to take care of trunks and baggage of the arriving or departing students. Motormen and conductors on the street cars who are often college men, are paid about 52 cents per hour. Bus drivers for local companies earn about 50 cents per hour to start. Students in New York, Chicago, and Boston find work as guards on the elevated railroads. Ten Stanford students and 20 Columbia students found jobs as traffic checkers working the traffic census. Many other transportation jobs are available for those interested in this type of work. (See also Automobiles.)
ENTERTAINMENT—In Boston, New York, and the other large cities many students find employment in the local theaters as "supers" and actors as well as scene shifters, ticket takers, and ushers. Amateur theatricals use students to construct stage settings; compensation varies with the type of work. Entertainers who are able to amuse an audience by playing musical instruments, singing, or dancing, are frequently engaged by clubs, theaters, and private homes at fair compensation. Readers are employed for entertainments as well as by invalids or elderly persons. Students with vocal talent are employed as singers in churches at $5 per Sunday and up. Management of dances is profitable when several students furnish their own orchestra and take the receipts. Some hold dancing classes for children and adults. Regular dance-hall managers frequently employ students to assist in order to attract student patronage. Motion picture jobs are limited; a District of Columbia student earned $22 per week as operator evenings and Saturdays; others furnish the music, but opportunities vary with the size and character of the town. College orchestras are in demand for dances, dinners, receptions, and entertainments; the compensation for this work is excellent and varies from $2 per hour and up for each instrument. Local bands employ students at regular rates. Good pianists earn money in theaters, orchestras, concert work, at dances, and as accompanists. Organists find positions in college chapels, churches, and movie theaters, and they give lessons. Promoters manage all kinds of entertainments, carnivals, concerts, and dances; by doing their own advertising, making arrangements, and bearing the financial responsibility many have made fair success. Student guides are often employed by visitors or sight-seeing companies to show local points of interest, especially in historical towns. There are many opportunities to usher at games and theaters; by this means a student earns 40 cents an hour and the privilege of free admission. In general, the compensation in the above types of work is excellent and the nature of the employment is agreeable for the self-supporting student.
RECREATION AND PHYSICAL TRAINING—Sports often furnish a means of self-help. Students who participate in college sports gain a wide acquaintance which frequently leads to money-making opportunities or preference on desirable jobs. Coaching high-school teams in football, baseball, track, and athletic events pays well. Referees and umpires are often college students. Both public and private clubs employ college athletes as gymnasium instructors or assistants at $1 an hour or more. Girls who are qualified find employment on playgrounds and health centers. Churches, Young Men's Christian Association, Red Cross, Camp Fire Girls, Boy Scouts, and other organizations employ students as leaders, workers, and in other capacities. Golf and tennis are popular and profitable for one who knows the games sufficiently well. To be the manager of a summer golf club is a desirable vacation job. Some students manage skating rinks which are profitable but require strenuous physical work in clearing and coating the surface with ice. Other recreational work is well paid. Nineteen Harvard men earned $5,000 last year by directing and coaching sports.
HOTEL AND SUMMER-RESORT JOBS—Many college students are employed by the hotels in different capacities, especially in summer, as bell hops, waiters, waitresses, maids, coat-room checkers, night clerks, room clerks, food checkers, entertainers, and orchestra members. Although many find the work trying and the hours not suitable for term-time employment, others report that the work is agreeable and profitable; much depends on the type of hotel. The stipulated salary is usually very small, sometimes from $5 to $7 per week where tips are depended upon, while some report $70 a month and expenses. In summer many save over $200 clear from hotel work.
There are few summer resorts and summer colonies which do not have their corps of college students working as entertainers, concession managers, ticket takers, life guards, musicians, garage men, porters, truckmen, icemen, camp managers, cooks, tutors, chauffeurs, etc. Usually there is plenty of time and opportunity for recreation. From $150 to $300 and up can be cleared above expenses in a single summer.
For those who are fond of out-of-door life, students find profitable summer vacations as counsellors for boys' and girls' camps, directors of camp dramatics, waitresses, chambermaids, bus drivers, instructors, assistants, etc. In the national parks the Department of Interior grants franchises for the operation of the public utilities to private individuals or corporations; they employ hundreds of college students each year from June to September, as bus drivers, porters; bell boys, chambermaids, waitresses, and the like. The work is so popular that more applications are received than can be accepted. The managers of the transportation, hotel, and camp companies at the several national parks will undoubtedly furnish information desired by students interested.
FOOD—Waiting on table is perhaps the most popular job of the self-supporting student because it pays well and requires little or no experience. Employment in the college commons or fraternities is the most desirable, but there are many opportunities in the local boarding houses, restaurants, hotels, and tea rooms as well as in private families. The usual compensation is board. Restaurants and hotels sometimes pay more, while private families give both board and room for four hours daily service and sometimes an additional money payment. A man or girl who can cook will find many opportunities in private families, tea rooms, and cafes. One girl received $50 per month one summer for eight hours' daily service as cook. A few try catering for small dinner parties in private homes. Compensation varies according to the expertness of the service; a cateress received $5 per dinner for services. Fraternities and boarding houses appoint student managers or stewards whose duties include the buying, planning, and serving of the meals. The average college steward has had no previous experience, but relies on the cook, servants, and student waiters to assist him. His success or failure is due more to the care of the tables, cleanliness, service, and order in both kitchen and dining room than to the actual cooking for which he is also responsible. Remuneration usually amounts to the equivalent of board and room. Tea room management or serving is profitable for a few students and the compensation varies with the time required and the responsibility; in summer, girls have earned board, room, and from $30 per month and up in addition to an agreeable vacation. Self-boarding clubs are formed where a few students club together and take turns in preparing the meals. Two girls are able to save from $7 to $10 per month living in this manner; four Wyoming men lived on $20 to $25 per month each. Washing dishes although not very pleasant work, is necessary and will cover board for those willing to do the work; when electric dishwashers are used the work is considerably lightened. The student employment bureau at Stanford University supplies many students as cannery workers in the local canning factories. The students of limited means will find kitchen or dining-room jobs desirable because they satisfy the largest item of college expenses—board—and at the same time provide food with the certainty and regularity necessary to a healthy existence.
HOUSEHOLD SERVICE—College men as well as college girls are employed in private homes to do general housework—this is the most popular work for girls but those who lack experience or are not physically strong should avoid this occupation as the requirements are too great a tax on health and scholarship. For four hours daily work students receive both board and room; on part time the work pays from 25 to 60 cents per hour, averaging 40 cents. Often those who also assist with the children are called mother's helpers. Along with the housework are such odd jobs as cleaning, scrubbing, caring for polished floors, gardening, repairing, and in general, looking after the upkeep of the house and its furnishings.
WINDOW WASHING is a profitable venture for self-help students who contract with merchants to keep their store and office windows clean at a regular monthly rate. Student window-washing associations and agencies have been formed, particularly in the western colleges, with the more enterprising students managing the work, employing others to do the labor. The work has the advantage of being done in spare time with an average compensation of about 35 to 40 cents per hour, while some charge 15 cents or more by the window according to size.
TENDING FURNACES, one of the time-tried methods of the self-supporting student, is good as long as the winter lasts. Hundreds of students take care of furnace fires in private homes for room rent, or may tend several fires in the same neighborhood for as much as $10 per month for a single furnace.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS—Some colleges employ students for janitor service in the college dormitories, and classrooms. Churches and clubs also use student labor in this manner and the work pays from 25 cents an hour (in Texas) to 60 cents an hour (in Illinois), while some are paid by the month—about $20. Often citizens of the town employ caretakers who care for the gardens and in general look after the upkeep of the house; for four hours of this work a day, the compensation is usually board and room, sometimes with an hourly wage for overtime. College men are employed on the campus to mow lawns, rake leaves, assist with tree surgery, and care for shrubbery at an hourly wage. Others are employed in cemeteries caring for lots and even digging graves, at $25 per month. Proctors in college dormitories responsible for the order and condition of the halls usually receive free room rent for their service. Fraternities endeavor to assist their own members as far as possible by assigning to self-help students such jobs as house manager who is responsible for repairs, bills, and general upkeep of the house. The compensation is usually room rent or more according to duties performed. Apartment houses employ resident managers to keep the buildings rented, collect rentals, and supervise the service; the pay is usually room rent. Jobs as inspector are well paid for the time required; one student reported $20 per week as inspector of concrete construction. Others are employed to inspect buildings, wiring, plumbing, highways street cars, buses, health, etc. Numerous other occupations for care and upkeep may be found by proper application for the work.
AGRICULTURAL PURSUITS—Farming is a substantial means by which many students earn their way through college; some earn board and room during the year and continue during the summer at regular wages in addition. The duties cover all phases of farm life, including stacking wheat, pitching headed grain to a threshing machine, milking, thinning and picking fruit, caring for poultry and stock, as well as for the dairy products and general work of both large and small farms. Wages of $2 to $6 per day are reported. Sugar plantations furnish work to a few; a Tulane student earned $125 per month one summer in Florida. Agricultural students are offered opportunities for part-time employment in the local greenhouses; a Kansas student operated an independent greenhouse, raising about 30,000 tomato, aster, pansy, and cabbage plants, and made a large return. In 1923 the Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College organized a "part-time division" of the school of agriculture, through which agency over 200 students are earning their entire expenses by performing work on the campus in horticulture working in greenhouses and truck gardens, alternately one month in the field and the next in the classroom. Students report that they have received $22.50 per month for this work. The Southern States offer opportunities to work during the cotton season; a Mississippi student went home in April, assisted with the cotton crop and returned to college in July. A New Mexico student chopped cotton at $1.50 per day. Students in California frequently arrange their courses to leave free time during the fruit season for such jobs as picking fruit, canning fruit as well as selling. Private citizens employ students to spade up gardens, plant flowers, pull weeds, and other gardening. Wages by the hour vary in different parts of the country from 30 cents in Vermont to 50 cents in the District of Columbia. Orchards offer opportunities for spraying trees, pruning, grafting, etc. Agricultural students often assist experienced men in tree surgery. Agricultural experiment stations offer a variety of technical work of a highly specialized nature which is carried on by students and paid for according to the nature of the work. Many advantages are offered to students in agriculture in the way of minimum fees and liberal scholarships.
PERSONAL SERVICES—Care of children is one of the favorite jobs of the self-help student. In the evening when the child is asleep there is ample time for study while on the job. From 25 to 50 cents per hour is paid in different localities. Patients and semi-invalids often employ college students to act as practical nurses or companions. A Radcliffe girl received $125 and room and board for two months of this service. Medical students frequently find work as masseurs or rubbers in the athletic rooms, and sometimes have sufficient experience to give treatments to citizens by appointment. Every year several strong young men donate their blood in hospitals and receive about $25 for each blood transfusion. Suit pressing is profitable for many students. Where the work is not managed by the college agency system, students have bought a steam-pressing machine, or else bought out a pressing business, including the machine and good will, have employed student agents to sell tickets on commission and have earned substantial incomes. In Dartmouth a ticket which entitles the holder to have one suit pressed each week during the college year, sells for $7.50 and the agent receives 50 cents commission. The compensation for this type of work varies from $8 per week and up for three hours' daily service. Mending furnishes a small income for a few. Laundry of silk underwear and fine clothing by hand at 40 cents an hour has been done by a few girls in college. A laundry room is always provided in every college house, and a girl can do the laundry for two with little extra labor. In some colleges shoe shining is managed by students who employ labor and sell tickets. Shopping for out-of-town customers or for others who desire such service is a means of earning at the rate of 50 cents an hour. Many of the personal service jobs are temporary in character, but with enough of them a student may make a good portion of his college expenses.
UNSKILLED LABOR—Odd jobs have helped many students through college. Freshmen often begin with this work and keep watch for more desirable jobs later on in their course. Any able-bodied student is able to beat rugs, remove screens, put on double windows, shovel snow, and perform all sorts of manual labor for citizens of the town. This work is paid for by the hour. The rate varies with the locality from 25 to 50 cents an hour with an average of about 35 cents. Some carry the rod and chain for surveyors and find the out-of-door work desirable. An Armour student earned $300 one summer in a lumber yard. An ice company employs 10 Park College students each summer at $6 per day. A few work on ice wagons at $15 a week. Unskilled labor is always necessary and a willing student will have little difficulty in finding work if he will accept odd jobs such as are offered by the employment bureau. Such jobs have paid the entire four years' expenses of many college students.
STUDENT AGENCIES—College agencies, which are commercial ventures often regulated by the faculty or student committees, are the means of financing many students through college. Student agencies are worthy of separate discussion since they are comparatively new in most colleges. They owe their existence to the demand of students for services and supplies. In the course of a college year, considerable money is exchanged in a college community for clothes and small wares. With the approval of the faculty, enterprising students engage campus rooms for the purpose of opening up a college shop. These rooms are then equipped with stock and fixtures—sometimes on the time-payment plan—and helpers and salesmen are employed to build up student patronage on the campus. Well-managed agencies yield fair returns on investments, and are often passed on from year to year to other students who buy out the business and good will. In some cases they are private ventures, while in others they are cooperative enterprises regulated by committees of the faculty, the students, or a combination of both. More than 20 student agencies in Princeton University provide an important means of self-support for Princeton men; managers are appointed on a basis of work done in competition, and the selection is made by a student advisory board of five seniors sitting with the director of student employment.
Yale University has a well-established system of student agencies which is worthy of imitation by other institutions. The following outline appears in the Yale booklet on Student Self-Support:
"A recent and increasingly important development of the bureau of appointments has been the establishment and the close supervision of a number of student agencies offering commodities or services in popular demand among the student body. The management of these agencies is naturally awarded to upper classmen, but through a "heeling" system students in the lower classes have an opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for these important positions. A student advisory committee of prominent undergraduates, meeting with the director of the bureau of appointments, receives all applications for the managership of student agencies. Any student with an original idea for the establishment of a new agency or for other means of earning money should submit it to the bureau for approval and official recognition. The bureau is, of course, glad to assist in working out such new ideas and in developing new agencies which seem practicable.
"The Student Suit Pressing Co. presses, cleans, and repairs the clothes of its many customers, employing self-supporting students as agents (selling tickets or yearly contracts on a commission basis), as collectors and deliverers of clothes, and, as far as possible, in other capacities as well. Its managers, who are all upper classmen with full responsibility for the conduct of the company's affairs, are selected on a competitive basis from the student employees and 'heelers.'
"The Student Laundry Association, also well established and with a clientele of nearly 1,000, collects and delivers student laundry on a regular schedule. Students act as agents, managers, collectors, etc., the organization and system of selection of managers being similar to that of the suit-pressing company.
"The Flower Agency obtains orders for flowers for promenade and football time, and similar festive occasions.
"The Freshman Picture Agency organizes each year the sale of the group pictures of the incoming freshman class.
"The Commons News Stand has the privilege in the Yale dining hall for the sale of magazines, newspapers, candy, cigarettes, etc., and is a very desirable concession.
"The Student Newspaper Bureau sells and delivers newspapers to the dormitory rooms of its student customers. It uses students both as salesmen and in making deliveries each morning.
"The Student Transfer Agency. As there is, at the opening and close of each college year and of the Christmas vacation, a very considerable congestion in the matter of baggage handling, the Student Transfer Agency was organized to facilitate the transfer of baggage between students' rooms and the railroad station.
"The Student Travel Bureau secures Pullman and other accommodations for students, arranges for special cars or special trains at vacation time, and for the week-ends of the championship football games, and plans trips for groups of students desiring to travel abroad during the summer. It, too, is organized on the heeling system, the competitors being paid either by commission or by free trips with the parties arranged.
"The Student Typewriting Bureau fills numerous demands from the student body for stenographic and copying work. It owns a duplicating machine and several typewriters.
"The Student Wood Agency sells firewood and arranges for its delivery to the students' rooms. It employs a number of students as salesmen on commission.
"The Yale Blotter and the Eli Book are delivered free of charge to students in the university. The sale of advertising space results in a substantial profit to the managers.
"The Yale Calendar has a wide sale throughout the student body, particularly as it makes an attractive Christmas gift. A managerial competition based on the number of sales made is held each fall. All students 'heeling' for the calendar managership receive a commission on their sales whether or not they are successful in winning the competition.
"The University Football Program and the University Baseball Program are the official souvenir programs issued under the auspices of the Athletic Association and sold at the important home football games in the fall and the commencement baseball game with Harvard in the spring. These privileges, which are perhaps the most desirable of all, are awarded under special conditions and in consideration of special qualifications. A man's proven ability to secure advertising contracts and to manage sales is essential in this connection. Upper classmen only are eligible for these appointments.
"One of the cardinal principles in connection with the establishment of these or other student agencies is that the organization in question must justify their existence by benefiting not only the students employed but also the entire university community. In general, this principle has brought into effect a scale of prices below those previously charged by non-university organizations, and the student agencies have thus proved an effective economic factor tending toward the return of student expenses to pre-war levels.
"Although these agencies are a recent development and some of them have just been established, they nevertheless enabled 236 students to earn nearly $30,000 in 1923-24, and as they become more firmly established, both the number of students employed and the total earnings are expected to increase."
Note: To account for inflation, multiply prices by 8 to 10.