Stocking up

Robin Withall

Every day, hundreds of students pass through Bartley’s Exchange, surrounded by the stock tickers that constantly feed the latest data from Wall Street; but how many of us actually stop and look for the symbols of stocks we own? How many ‘Novan’s even have investments?

With the daily expenses college students endure (working hard and playing hard doesn’t come cheap, after all), many of us don’t think we have enough cash to invest, and it seems that the rest of us don’t know much about investing or just plain don’t care about the subject.

Patty Llosa, a sophomore history major, has never before invested in stocks. “I don’t know much about the stock market and I don’t have any extra cash to invest,”she says.

If you are someone who does not yet have investments, here are a few things that might interest you: starting a portfolio does not take a lot of money, the stock market is not very difficult to understand, and best of all, by investing in stocks, bonds and mutual funds you could be making money without getting off of your futon.

First of all, it is important to understand the basics of investing; namely, the different types of investments you can make. Two popular choices are stocks and mutual funds.

Companies sell stocks in order to gain money that will allow them to grow and buy more things. As a shareholder, you own a piece of the company. People buy stock in hopes that their investment in it will grow and they will make more money when the stock price goes up, or when the company makes money and decides to pay their shareholders some of the earnings, called dividends. The more shares you own, the more money in dividends you will receive.

A second type of investment is a mutual fund. A mutual fund is a large pool of money from different investors that is handled by a portfolio manager and used to buy many different stocks. Rather than just buying an individual stock, investors pool their money by giving it to a mutual fund. Because all these investors have combined their money, they can afford to buy many different stocks.

So what is the best type of investment for students? According to Dr. James Giordano, an economics professor in the College of Commerce and Finance, how you should invest your money depends on several factors, including the time horizon of the investment, and how much risk you are willing to take.

“For a student that wants to invest in the long-term and does not have a great deal of money, a mutual fund is a good bet,” says Giordano. “Also, you are able to achieve diversification of investments in only one step.”

The writers of the popular website agree, saying “Mutual funds are great for people who don’t want to take as much risk with their money. Mutual funds are less risky because they buy a bunch of stocks. If one stock does poorly, you won’t lose as much money as you would if that was the only stock you owned”

With today’s technology, it’s easy to research stocks online and even trade yourself, avoiding the cost of a stockbroker. Sites like have stocks for as low as $4 per share and no account or investment minimums. Does new information change students minds about investing? Yes. “I’d definitely look into investing now,” says Llosa “I’ll have to do some research, but it doesn’t seem to be as difficult to do or require as much money as I thought it did.”

Experts suggest that, if nothing else, buy a few shares of your favorite company for fun. You won’t make as much money as the serious investor, but having investments will at least give you a chance to learn about the market and prepare you for more serious investment later on in life. 

Adam Hood, a sophomore in the College of Commerce and Finance agrees: “I was given shares to my first stock as a graduation gift,” he says, “and now I have five stocks. At this point, I’m not in it for the money; I just find it interesting and hope that what I’m learning now will benefit me when I seriously invest in the future.”

So, whatever your goals, budget, and depth of knowledge about the market, whether you want to seriously invest or are just in it for the experience, experts and non-experts alike agree: Now is the perfect time to try your hand at investing.