According to a 1995 Roper College Track study, 29 percent of all college students have a personal computer at college. Considering the Census Bureau says there are more than 15 million college students in the United States, that means more than 5 million students have computers at school. And that number keeps growing. Although students are becoming extremely techno-savvy when it comes to using their computers, they aren't always so adept at keeping them humming. Students who know how to repair computers when they go on the blink can make some serious cash in college. Being able to diagnose and fix even minor computer problems can make you the most popular person in the dorm.
What you need is a strong knowledge of the inner workings of computer hardware. You may want to specialize in either Mac or PC systems--along with the quirks and most common snafus associated with the most popular software programs. As your school's computer 911 tech, you can charge an hourly rate (usually between $10 and $20) or a per-project rate. For late-night or early-morning emergency calls, you can slap on a premium.
In this business, it's imperative that you stay up to date on the latest advances in technology, and it's important to have adequate equipment yourself--software programs that diagnose problems, such as Norton Utilities, are especially useful.
Take advantage of computer-based advertising avenues such as e-mail and your own Web site. On a Web site, which you may be able to upload for free on your university server (be sure to get permission if you are soliciting clients through the university server), you might offer possible solutions to some of the most common computer problems or give answers to frequently asked computer questions. This helps establish your credibility as a computer expert and promotes good will that you are offering some advice for free.