Sharing Economy for Students


University dorms and campuses provide the perfect conditions of supply, and demand for communal, collective use of resources with a social element. The sharing economy for students, popularized by apps, can be practiced on a small scale for big social, financial and environmental impacts. Especially for students who are plugged into the college community!

  1. Sharing Economy 101

At its most basic core, a collaborative or sharing economy is where people look to other consumers to share their resources instead of going to a large company or corporation to have their needs and wants met. Many of these peer-to-peer economies work via a website, app, or other web-based medium. It can include giving, swapping, borrowing, trading, renting, and sharing products and services for a fee, between an individual who has something and an individual who needs something. Big examples include AirBnb, Etsy, and Uber. This can also expand to include crowdfunding, upcycling or reselling clothes, hiring out tasks like running errands, etc. The community aspect also plays a role, in that people feel they are meeting and supporting local micro-entrepreneurs and the community management protects those offering services or items. 

2. Save money

Whether it’s sharing textbooks, or borrowing the right gear for a holiday out of town with friends, the sharing economy can offer savings and specials. We think of the money saved on buying a car when there are rideshare apps to take us beyond campus, but there are also local carpools, bike shares, and short term car rentals. Zipcar works great if you need to go pick up a pal from the airport, or just want to zip around town for groceries or a day trip. Zimride works more like a traditional carpool, allowing cheaper fares in high occupancy vehicles and group trips through heavier traffic areas. Bike shares can sometimes exist throughout a city, but more frequently are found at key places at the university to facilitate arriving on time to that class or concert. There are even parking space sharing apps, where you can buy a parking spot from a resident or local parking spot owner.

Textbooks and dorm furnishings often have their own upcycling programs within college campuses, but there are also more widespread programs that open your sharing market to a bigger set of people. Some social platforms have caught onto this localized sharing or selling, including Facebook and other apps whose primary focus is not necessarily building a sharing economy.    

3. Make an income

The sharing economy is not only for when you are looking to buy or use, but also if you are looking to earn! From dog walking to summer house swapping, you can also make money from the sharing of underutilized resources. Sometimes this can be providing a service, or sharing an item, space or access. The main consideration if you want to participate is to make sure you understand local regulations, and if you are required to have a license, insurance or permit to share as you intend.

As a student, the peer-to-peer earning, sharing, providing, and receiving of the collaborative economy has its perks! Whether you prefer to share on the cheap, or earn a bit while sharing, it could be a great fit for a bit of extra income as you work your way through your studies.