Today’s post is a StudySoup review. If you’re a looking to make money as a college student, you may have heard about the company.
The site basically pays people to take notes.
Sounds great, right?
You get paid to do something that you’re already doing anyway!
But is StudySoup as good as it sounds? Or is it just a scam?
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Well, in this post, we’ll answer those questions and more. I’ll cover how the site works, how much you can expect to make, and, most importantly, whether or not it’s legit.
So, let’s get started with the review.
What is StudySoup?
StudySoup is an online learning marketplace where students can sell and purchase study guides, lecture notes, and flashcards.
The site is interesting for college students who’re looking to earn some extra money (and we all could do with more money in college, right?) because it allows you to sell things like your notes, which you may already be taking anyway.
How Does StudySoup Work?
StudySoup allows students to sign up and sell their notes and study guides. In this section, I’ll cover, in a little more detail, how the site works.
Basically, there are three steps to making money with the site. And, I’ll cover these below…
Step One: Sign up as an Elite Notetaker
Okay, so you can sign up for StudySoup and make money selling your notes.
Now, if you want to make more money with StudySoup, then you’ll want to sign up as an Elite Notetaker.
This is really easy to do.
Who can become an Elite Notetaker?
If you’re an undergraduate student, you can become an Elite Notetaker.
So, what about graduate students? Can they also be Elite Notetakers?
The site says that since most graduate courses usually have very small class sizes, graduate students don’t see much success as Elite Notetakers.
Because payment is dependent on being able to share materials and generate subscriptions from classmates, it’s more difficult to do with smaller courses.
That’s why the Elite Notetaker program is aimed more toward undergraduate students who have larger classes since they have more opportunity to generate revenue.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t try the site. According to the company, graduate students are still welcome to upload and share materials with classmates.
How to sign up as an Elite Notetaker
You can sign up to be an Elite Notetaker here.
Now, during the application process, you will need to provide some information, including your:
- School name
- Full name
- Email address
- Phone number
Now, your school name will be visible to all SS users, but your email address and phone number will only be visible to the site’s administrators.
You also get the option to fill out your public profile – this is visible to the site’s users. And, you can choose whether you want to provide some or all of the following information:
- Profile picture
- Username (Your profile can show a username or just your first name if you don’t want to display your full name on the site)
- Short bio
- Graduation year
According to the site, providing this information can help your classmates to feel more comfortable purchasing your materials.
It’s important to note that in order to be an Elite Notetaker, you will need to sign a contract.
This is really simple to do. You can find the Elite Notetaker contract in the Dashboard under the “Getting Started” page.
Handily enough, you can sign it online through HelloSign. This is an online, legally binding, secure signature service.
Do you have to pay to be an Elite Notetaker?
It’s free to become one of the site’s Elite Notetakers. Now, if you want to purchase notes from other Elite Notetakers on the site, then you can use your earnings from your own notes or you can purchase a subscription using your credit or debit card, but it’s not required.
You can sign up for the site for free.
Now, the site does charge commission, but more on that later.
Step Two: Sell your notes and study guides
Once you’re signed up, you can start making money from selling notes and study guides.
Now, if you sign up for the Elite Notetaker program, then you will need to attend an online group training session. This is so you can learn about the site and the Elite Notetaker position.
You talk with the site’s Regional Leads. You can also ask for advice and tips on how to be a successful Elite Notetaker. So you can get help with things like how to upload and share your materials and the best way to create a study guide.
Once, you’ve done that, you’ll be able to start making money.
You post your notes and study guides that help others. You’ll need to post notes weekly, upload your study guides at least four days before the exam dates, and share your links with classmates.
What types of materials can you sell?
You can sell notes and study guides.
Please note that flashcards don’t count as study guides or class notes, so they don’t qualify for payment.
The site doesn’t require you to use a certain method or format when creating your notes. So that’s pretty handy. But, it does recommend that you check out the notes that successful notetakers have created. That way you can see what types of notes are popular. The site offers a “Hall of Fame” where you can see which materials are bringing in cash.
Interestingly, the site offers templates you can use for your own notes and study guides. This is pretty helpful and can make it a little easier to get started.
To get started with selling notes, just click on the “Sell Your Materials” button in the top, right-hand corner of the screen.
What types of notes qualify?
Interestingly, notes can be handwritten or typed out.
There’s no length requirement for study materials. The site says you should incorporate all the necessary information, however long the materials end up being. The site says you shouldn’t try to shorten or lengthen your material just to post it on there.
Generally speaking, the site does recommend that your notes should be more than one page long. This is because buyers are given a preview of your materials before purchase.
What about study guides?
Study guides are a condensed version of all the information that you need to know in order to do well on a test.
So, if you’ve been taking notes during your lecture throughout the semester, then you’ll need to ensure that you include important concepts and terms covered in each lecture.
Also, if you’ve kept up with the reading, or have even taken notes on the reading, then make sure that you include important concepts from each assigned chapter/section. And, you can even include page numbers so that your classmates can read more.
Uploading your notes and study guides
If your notes are handwritten, then you need to take a clear picture of each page or scan in your material if you have access to a scanner.
The site recommends that if you take pictures of your materials, rather than scanning them, it’s best to paste those images into a Word/Google doc, and then save that as a PDF before you upload them to the site.
If your notes are in a typed document, then you have to convert them to a PDF file before uploading them.
So, it’s pretty simple!
Now, you will need to upload a study guide four days before the exam date so that you remain eligible for the payment.
The site also offers tips and templates for creating study guides. And, if you are running short on time, and have all your notes from the semester, then just upload each note document into your StudySoup Study Guide to share it with your classmates. Then, they’ll have access to all of the information they need from the weekly lecture notes.
All of the notes and study guides you upload to the site do have to go through a Quality Assurance process though. So, one of the site’s staff will look through the material that you upload to ensure that it adheres to StudySoup’s rules and quality standards.
Step Three: Get paid
Okay, so now for the important step – getting paid!
In this section, I’ll cover how the site pays, when you get paid, and how payment is sent.
How much does StudySoup pay?
One of the things that I noticed when researching the site is that it’s not really that forthcoming with what notetakers can earn per note or study guide. The payment structure seems a little confusing.
To put it simply, according to the site, you earn up to $500 per course. So, that’s pretty great, right?
The site does mention a few more things about payment:
- Earn 50% commission when people download/purchase your course materials.
- For every subscription that’s generated by a study material, you earn $35. A subscription is a new registration where a customer pays the company for products and services over a specified time period.
- You also get an additional $2 for each unlock, which is when a customer or a free trial user adds your material to their library.
Like I said, the payment structure is a little confusing.
Basically, students earn up to $500 per class on average. You can get paid for a maximum of 3 classes, so you could earn $1,500 or more just for three classes.
How does StudySoup Pay?
For each new customer, the site releases your payment 2 to 5 business days after your exam date.
And, payment for Unlocks occurs 3 to 7 days after the final exam in a course. You get paid right to your PayPal account.
Is Study Soup Legit?
So, now for that all important question…
Is Study Soup Legit?
Well, I always like to have a look at what people’s experience is with a site to get a better idea of what making money on there is actually like.
Now, from my research, I can see that StudySoup is pretty well-reviewed.
It seems to have good ratings from its employees:
On Glassdoor, one employee says of selling notes through StudySoup:
- “Wonderful Experience. StudySoup is an easy way to make money in college because you get paid for something you already do. I take notes on a regular basis, but now I get paid for it. You have to wait to cash out until after your exams, and your unlocks are not available for cashing out until the end of the semester.”
On Indeed, one employee says:
- “StudySoup is a very organized and responsive company. Being an elite notetaker has increased my own GPA, helped me make a little extra money, and also allows me to help other students. Payouts go out when stated and the company always checks in on their employee’s progress.”
Now, there are also some negative reviews of the site on Glassdoor and Indeed, as well as on the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
On the BBB, StudySoup has a rating of just 1 star out of 5 stars. There are only 10 customer reviews on there, so it’s not a huge demographic, and the ratings were from customers purchasing stuff rather than notetakers.
But, still, that’s a low rating.
And, on Indeed some users complain about the requirements placed on notetakers, saying:
- I’ve been a notetaker for StudySoup for a few months now. I’ve found it relatively enjoyable. It’s pretty easy, you post your notes and get paid. However, just like with anything, there is a catch. You have to meet deadlines and certain quotas in order to get paid, which is totally understandable.
With StudySoup, you have to upload a set of notes per week per class. I have two classes that I am posting notes from. Then you also have to do three study guides per class as well. Here’s the dilemma that I have and am facing: my class only has two large tests, a midterm and a final, so I will be missing out on $50 on my “end of the semester bonus.” Or may not even get it at all because technically not all requirements are met due to not having three exams.
A few users on Indeed also complained that they felt as though they were uploading notes with no guarantee of being paid – so they sort of felt like they were wasting their time.
One user said:
- “This is a wretched company that takes advantage of college students. They hire you to work for a semester with promise of payment at the end. They advertise making upwards of $500 at the end of your semester.
1. You can make less than $400 with all the boxes ticked off at the end so the $500 is a lie
2. They erase your account at the end of your semester without paying you
3. You worked all semester for nothing.
This is illegal and a disgusting company. Don’t ever work here especially as a note taker.”
- “It’s a good job for college. You just upload your notes and, if people buy them, get paid for it. The annoying thing is a lot of people don’t actually buy the notes so your work is basically for nothing. You also have to harass your classmates through emails each time you post notes or a study guide.”
Is StudySoup Legal?
Now, there are also some concerns over the legality of the site. While StudySoup itself is a legit company, that doesn’t mean that there are no legal concerns regarding notes.
Selling notes from classes appears to be a bit of a grey area. The thing is, posting materials created by your professors, any copyrighted materials from textbooks, and past exam sheets is prohibited.
But, because your notes are your own content, you are able to sell those on sites like StudySoup.
The site only allows you to sell user-generated content that has been created using your own perspectives, examples, etc.
So you are able to post your notes with no issues.
That being said, StudySoup also says that if your professor is against you posting notes, then you should abide by their wishes. Basically, you want to use your best judgment and not do anything that compromises your standing with your school.
Is StudySoup Worth It?
So, is StudySoup worth it for you?
Let’s take a look at some pros and cons…
- Get paid for something you already do anyway
- Lots of students rate it well
- You can aid your own learning by taking better notes
- You help out others
- Confusing payment structure
- You might not sell notes which diminishes your earning potential
- Professors and/or your college may not be comfortable with students selling notes
- Reports of poor customer service
Overall, StudySoup is a legit company and it does offer college students a way to make money from something that they’re already doing.
However, there are a few things about the site that I didn’t really care for. Namely, the confusing pay structure. The site itself says you can, “Earn up to $500 per course,” without really breaking that down much further. It also mentions a 50% commission.
I think that sites should have a clear payment structure outlined, and this one doesn’t. I actually struggled to find any clear and consistent numbers from the site itself in terms of what you get per note or study guide, and even when I read stories from students who’ve used the site, reports of payment varied a lot. It does outline prices for subscriptions and Unlocks though, which is good.
Also, the fact that how much money you make is dependent on sales and subscriptions is a bit of a cause for concern, because it can mean that you don’t end up making as much as you should for your hard work.
I do think that there are probably some better jobs out there for college students that are a little steadier in terms of income, such as:
- Online tutoring with sites like VIPkid
- Transcription work
- Freelance writing
We have lots of options in these posts for college students looking to make money:
- 15 Best Online Tutoring Jobs for College Students (Earn up to $22/hr)
- 30 Best Legit Online Jobs for College Students (to Make Easy Money)
- 17 Companies that Offer Part-Time Jobs with Benefits (Flexible & High Paying)
- 20 Seasonal Jobs Near You (That Pay Well!)
- 19 Best Online Math Tutor Jobs to Teach Math & Get Paid
The main advantage, of course, is that with StudySoup, you can get paid for doing something that you already do anyway – take notes in class.
So, it can be a good option.
Have you ever worked with StudySoup? If so, leave your own StudySoup review in the comments section below.