How Craigslist Can Help College Students
Paying for college -- even with help from Mom and Dad or a giant scholarship -- demands some serious frugality from students. So, how can you spend less on books, housing, and everything else that goes along with going away to college? One word: Craigslist.
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The idea of using Craigslist for college won't come as much of a revelation to students used to turning to the web for what they need. But the mammoth classified advertising site covers so much ground that you may not realize all that's available. Here are some tips for finding everything from an apartment to a part-time job on Craigslist.
Search Local.This is Craigslist 101: Make sure you're doing a local search for what you need in order to avoid shipping costs. If you're already on campus, you should be redirected from Craigslist.com to the local Craigslist for your college town. Craigslist has local listings for more than 700 cities and 70 countries.
Find an Apartment and a Roommate.Hunting for housing is a classic way to use Craigslist for college, whether you need an apartment, a sublet, or just a room for rent. Landlords have plenty of space online to give detailed information in their ads and even include pictures. (If at all possible, you should still go see a potential apartment or house in person and meet the landlord before you sign on the dotted line.) While you're at it, you can look for a roommate to share the cost. Check out postings on Craigslist from people who want to rent rooms, or place a free ad yourself seeking a roommate.
Buy Used Items.Shop on Craigslist for college furniture, kitchen gadgets, or a bike to get you back and forth to class. You can also find used college textbooks for less than they would cost at the bookstore. Another tip: Make sure you negotiate. Yes, there is a list price, but most sellers allow for some wiggle room. It doesn't hurt to try, and you may save yourself a buck or two.
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List Your Stuff.If you're still looking to get rid of your textbooks from last semester, try selling them directly to other students on Craigslist. You might earn more than you would if you sold them back to the bookstore. (Try other cheap college textbooks sites as well.) While you're at it, you can clean out your apartment or your room at your parents' house (they'll appreciate it!) and sell some things you no longer need to earn a little cash. It's easy and free to set up an ad, write a description, and upload a few pictures. Just make sure to price everything fairly. If you don't get any bites, you may be asking too much.
Score a Job.Part-time work can help you pay for college and all that it entails. Craigslist separates jobs by industry and lets you search specifically for part-time gigs. You can look on Craigslist for college internships, too.
Use Caution.Certainly there are those who try to take advantage of honest Craigslist users. The Chicago Tribune warns that if a deal or offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The article suggests watching out for strange language in ads or responses to your ads. DegreeDirectory.org recommends bringing a friend when you meet with someone from Craigslist. Never give out your address or too much information about yourself, even if the other party does. Finally, before money changes hands, check over any item you plan to purchase on Craigslist for college to make sure it's exactly what the ad represented.