An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

College Student’s Trash is Every Man’s Treasure

college trash

College students throw away millions of dollars of “trash” at the end of each semester.

Rather than packing up their dorm room valuables into their vehicle and hauling them back home for the summer, many students choose to simply throw out their unwanted items.

This trash routinely includes items that are in perfect working order. Furniture is one of the most common items that lands in trash heaps. However lamps, alarm clocks, electronic devices, pots and pans, rugs, sports equipment, textbooks, clothes, and a number of other things also accumulate in dumpsters.

How Can You Take Advantage of This?

First of all, please understand that I am not normally a proponent of “dumpster diving”. I think there are much more efficient uses of your time if you plan to :buy low and sell high” to make some extra cash. However, there are too many legal, sanitary, and emotional issues that normally accompany traditional dumpster diving.

Raiding a dumpster in the back of a college dorm however is a completely different issue. They don’t throw away old egg shells and stale pasta in these dumpsters. It is not intended for trash. These dumpsters are generally made available by the college or university to collect unwanted items from students as they leave for the semester. Many of these items are then recycled or taken to the trash dump, but they present a wealth of opportunities if you can time your visit correctly.

First, you will need to find a end of semester move-out schedule for the college you wish to visit. This can typically be done very quickly through an online search of that organization’s website.

Second, you will need to contact the campus police on that campus to ensure that you would not be breaking the laws to go rummaging through their dumpsters. Depending on the location of the college that you visit you may have campus police present at the dumpster itself, or you may need to seek out the police headquarters to get your approval. In my experience, they are happy to approve this as long as you do not bother the college students or residents throwing away trash.

Third, you will need to scout out the dumpster locations. Typically these are placed right in front of or behind the main entrance to the dorm. They are generally large and many times, especially for larger dorms, have a gate on one end where you can easily walk into the dumpster. You should map out your route using a campus map, and ensure that you find all of the dumpster locations for the most effective search.

Finally, you should get there early on move-out day. Obviously you will not want to go if the weather is bad, as this will dramatically cut down on the quality of items that are thrown away. If you find a location where items are being tossed out, feel free to stay around and wait for something good to turn up!

Just a word of caution: Please remember not to take items directly from the residents however. Once they have left the items in the dumpster they are ok to grab, but you could get in trouble with the campus police if you begin approaching residents asking them for their belongings.

This is an excellent way to find items to re-sell. The best thing is that there are generally very high quality items being thrown out that you could then turn around and sell on Craigslist, Ebay, or have a yardsale of your own. The possibilities are endless!

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2 Comments

  1. That is a good idea. There are really a lot of stuff most college students own that they don’t even use. Or maybe used only one. And they can make money out of it

    • @KC – You are 100% correct. This could work well for someone going onto a college campus and raiding dumpsters, or it could work even better for an enterprising college student. You could even have a sort of “consignment sale” mentality similar to a used textbook buyer. Maybe this is a goldmine…

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