OPINION: College students benefit from alternative forms of employment

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Brandon Sarmiento

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Tonie Lopez, Assistant Opinion Editor

Many college students must bear the extra responsibility of working a part-time or full-time job along with going to school. The National Center for Education Statistics found that 74% of part-time and 40% of full-time undergraduate students work. Since the balance between college classes and a job to help pay for tuition can call for a hectic schedule, some students may instead resort to work that would be considered different or unconventional. These types of jobs allow for more self-employed routes, giving more flexible scheduling. Such jobs may range from driving for Uber to earning money through cryptocurrency and trading stocks. For lots of students in their college eras, any job seems good enough to help survive.

One unconventional job that many find interesting and somewhat taboo is sex work. This work consists of performing sexual favors, acts or services in exchange for compensation, usually in the form of money. A survey conducted by the National Union of Students on student sex workers, revealed that less than 15% of its respondents felt that their schools’ student unions did not provide enough support for their line of work. In addition, 53% of respondents wanted more information regarding sexual health matters and 51% wanted more information on financial help.

The popular site OnlyFans, a subscription-service site that allows its users to show explicit content, saw an uptick in users from November 2019 to December 2020. In that span of 13 months, the website went from 7.5 million users to 85 million, as found by The Conversation. Although the rise may have been largely due to the pandemic, it seems many people may have seen OnlyFans as a less complicated, less time-consuming, and smarter way to make money. With that in mind, an estimated 2.1%-7% of college students expressed having participated in sex work, according to The Conversation. With easy access to the internet, the idea of creating explicit, yet profitable content has left some college students flocking to sites like OnlyFans.

Websites allowing students to meet a sugar daddy have also presented themselves as an alternative for students to earn an income.

In terms of sex work, I think this option is not one that should be frowned upon but looked at as an opportunity. I also think it is important to provide as much health services and information to students in the field. Also mentioned by The Conversation, they encourage coming forward and talking to health professionals about any sexual health issues that may arise, as well as seeking out counseling and having a safe place to turn to.

On the less controversial spectrum of alternative work, other students may opt for driving for delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Some students have taken a few shifts driving for one or more of these companies. On average, a driver for Uber Eats can earn about $8 to $12 an hour, according to the website Small Business Trends. By making their schedules, students may be enticed by this flexibility of choosing their hours and accepting or rejecting any order they want. Depending on where they are, multiple orders can take place at the same time. This seems to be where the freedom of choice comes in.

Lots of people are constantly ordering food through delivery services like DoorDash, especially for the peak times of lunch and dinner. This large demand by customers can be a driving force for a determined student worker to fulfill as many orders as possible, which greatly increases the amount of money they can earn. The number of employees and subscribers for DoorDash reached an all-time high during the pandemic, as many people were staying at home.

These driving companies have become a booming business for college students. From personal experience, I would see many of them constantly picking up orders for their customers at the Taco Bell I used to work at. Sometimes there would be two to three pickups at once. A lot of the drivers appeared happy with their work and would say how they made good money while also being able to do the work on their own time and terms.

Many college students are trying to find ways to make ends meet and seem to drown in the process. With the advantages of the internet, however, students have a lot of access to other forms of employment. A lot of them like the freedom and flexibility of working at their own leisure. I think it’s a great way to pace themselves, and do things the way that works best for them rather than a traditional place of employment.

Flexibility and open-mindedness come along during the turbulent college years. I believe that it can also teach a lot of self-discipline and determination. What better person to do this than yourself?