If your a college student, you have a wide range of options when it comes to clubs and activities to participate in. But, if you're interested in personal finance and investing, I strongly urge you to join a college investment club. Very few colleges offer any classes in personal finance and investing, so a college finance club is probably going to be your only option to learn about investing and meet with like-minded students. Here are some things to think about.
What College Investment Clubs are About
Most college investment clubs are about education. They want to teach members the basics of the stock market, investing, and, of course, personal finance. Over time, members will gain in-depth stock market and trading knowledge, and will also begin to network with others in the investment world. This can lead to great opportunities down the road.
Most investment clubs will teach members how to research stocks, and then turn this research into a stock picking competition. There are many varieties, but most involve contests or even investing real money. Some investment clubs form themselves like Wall Street investment firms, in which different groups of students cover different industries or sectors and present them to the entire club.
How You Can Leverage It
The bottom line is that you can leverage these clubs in a variety of ways:
Training and Education: The first way you can leverage a college investment club is through the training and education they offer. If you're a rookie investor looking to get started, these clubs are a great way to start. Even if you already feel like you have a solid grasp of investing, investment and finance clubs can help you take your knowledge and skills to the next level.
Free Investment Ideas: Every investor knows that finding great investment ideas is always a challenge. That's where college investment clubs can be a great tool. As I mentioned earlier, many clubs break down the stock market and assign different people or groups to research and present. This can help you because your peers did all the work for you (but you'll still have to pull your own weight in your sector or industry). Plus, many clubs also do individual stock picking and research, which can also generate great investment ideas.
Networking Opportunities: Finally, there are usually great networking opportunities presented in finance clubs. Many clubs bring in speakers from the industry, from local experts to nationally-known authors or traders. These industry experts are great ways to get your name and resume out there. They can also be leveraged for possible internship opportunities if you're not ready to graduate. Plus, everyone else in the club can help you get the job you want, especially if it is in banking or finance.
Things to Be Cautious Of
There are, however, a few things you should be cautious of. First, remember that these people don't control your money. Only you can decide what you're comfortable investing in. If you're not comfortable, don't do it, even if the rest of the pack is.
With that being said, many students will also pitch “high flyers” or other speculative stocks which sound fun, but will probably burn you in the end. Just read my About Page to hear a brief on my story about crazy college student trading ideas. Use any research or insight you hear as a starting point for your own research and make your own decisions.
Were you part of a college investment club?