Do you ever forgo frat parties for flash cards? Hit the books instead of the bars? Do your classmates covet your impeccable class notes and original study guides?

Your studiousness is certainly admirable, but what do your stellar study habits and high grades even get you these days?  Maybe bragging rights, a spot on the honor roll, and if you're really lucky – a free kiddy cup at your local ice cream parlor.  Your exemplary grades and study skills certainly won't guarantee you a high-paying job after graduation in this down economy, so you might as well take advantage of easy money-making opportunities unique to diligent college students like yourself. Selling your class notes and study guides to other students at your school is an easy way to make money; after all, you're getting paid to do something you do anyways.

Here's how to cash in on your studiousness:

Work as a Paid Notetaker for your School

  • Apply for a notetaker position with your school's disability resource center or learning services office.  Many schools will pay a student with exemplary attendance, high grades and excellent note-taking skills to take notes for a disabled student in the notetaker's class.
  • While notetaker pay is by no means lucrative (i.e., Northwestern University pays $100 a course and the University of California Berkeley pays $40 a course), remember that you are getting paid to do what you normally do for free – take diligent class notes and attend all your classes.   Also, you're helping a fellow student in need, and that's invaluable.

Sell your Notes and Study Guides

  • Decide whether you want to use one of dozens of online companies such as FlashNotes or NoteUtopia that facilitate the distribution of class notes between sellers and buyers or sell your materials without a middleman.  While the services of note-taking management companies take care of time consuming administrative details for you and potentially expose your work product to a wide customer base, these companies receive a portion of your revenues and get the intellectual property rights to your work. On Flashnotes, a student uploads her notes and study guides to the system and then sets her own price for her materials.  Every time someone downloads her materials from the site, she receives 80% of the asking price and the site receives 20%.
  • Spread the word! Notify your classmates how to purchase your materials whether it is indirectly from a company's website or directly from you. Post advertisements on campus bulletin boards and use facebook and Twitter to reach more customers.
  • Brag! Your advertising materials should include specific examples of your superior achievement in the course for which you are selling study materials.  For example, an effective advertisement might include the fact that you earned the highest grade in the class on your final exam, have perfect attendance and have typed study materials that cover all class materials and relevant portions of the textbook.


  • Prove the high quality of your materials by offering potential customers a free sample of your work – perhaps the first, middle and last pages of your materials.
  • If you email your materials to customers, then there is nothing that stops the customer from subsequently distributing the materials to other students for free or for profit. To prevent this practice, consider only selling hard copies of your materials to local students.  Print out your materials on green or red paper which will make it harder for the customer to reproduce your materials.  While you'll have to pay for paper and copy shop services, this additional expense is most likely less than the potential revenue you might lose from the unauthorized distribution of your materials.  Remember, it's the number of unique buyers that dictates your earnings.
  • This money-making opportunity is not necessarily limited to undergraduate students.  Students in professional school or graduate school can also sell their notes and study guides. Also, if you have taken professional exams such as the Series 7 Financial Certification Exam or the Professional Engineering Exam, then you may be able to sell your original study materials.


  • Before you sell your class notes, check with your professors and your school's administration as to whether the sale of your class notes or study guides violates the school's honor code or state education code. The California State University has banned buying and selling class notes as the practice violates the portion of the California education code that prohibits selling, transferring, distributing or publishing notes of lectures for any commercial purpose.  No amount of money is worth jeopardizing your academic standing with your school.  Whereas money comes and goes, an expulsion can haunt your reputation forever.

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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