A traditional way to pay for college is to simply work, but the kind of work is usually irrelevant to the student's interests. This idea addresses what type of jobs students have access to, and how that may ultimately affect their college experience and costs.
First, I've never used Angie's List, but I know that if I want to hire a local handyman, I can go to the website and find one (for a membership fee, but let's ignore that for this idea). The website is designed to connect person "A" with local business "B". No such website exists for a college student searching for a meaningful job experience. For example, if I, a sports science major, want to work for a physical therapist and learn more about the field, there is no simple way for me to connect with one to see if they would be open to the idea of letting me work at their office.
If a website could be created that would serve as a job board where local businesses can list positions within their firm and connect to students interested in their respective field, this would alleviate college costs by:
- Finding work while on break. There are many work-study programs designed to let students earn money while attending school, but these programs aren't helpful during breaks. Many students, especially low-income ones, return home during these breaks--it's usually cheaper to live at home, than pay an extra 2-4 months of rent for summer and winter breaks. Temporary work can be harder to find, however, especially when the business knows the student will be leaving soon. This website would specialize in temporary/seasonal/flexible jobs for students.
- Connecting to and learning from professionals. Low-income students, especially first-generation students, usually don't have any personal connections to professionals. A student might be interested in being a pediatrician, but not really know what the job entails. Insights and mentorship from an actual pediatrician would be invaluable for their career. They might discover the job isn't a right fit for them, and can change degrees to pursue something else instead of wasting money. Or they could end up loving what they see and be motivated to finish their degree as fast as possible.
- Building resume experience. Students often work at low-entry, low-skill level jobs, like cashiers or waiters. While this certainly helps teach them some transferable skills, it does little to separate them from other applicants. Even if a student is a receptionist at a local law firm, they are still somewhat exposed to the industry, and is a "foot in the door". It would help students gets hired quicker, if they could prove their interest/experience in a field, which would help them generate income faster to pay off any loans.
I'm aware that job sites already exist, but navigating them can be a nightmare, and they are very generalized. I know my own university has its own job bank students can use that connects alumni/businesses with students looking for work, but this is only accessible to current students, and rarely lists jobs outside of the city.