Going off to college is the time to gain true independence for the first time. It is a time of discovery, pursuing interests, getting out from under the watchful eye of a parent, and to make adult mistakes (from which hopefully lessons are learned). College is also the time that decisions are made that have an impact on the rest of your life. This is when you will eventually choose a major or career path, which will determine the course of your life. This can be exciting as well as overwhelming.
However, the college years are when you will also learn how to manage your finances, which makes this an opportune time to learn about investing your money. The lessons that you learn during this time will have a huge impact on your life and should not be taken lightly. Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can about all facets of life.
Learning about investing in college is the best time for you, with all of the knowledge that you are acquiring. There are many different ways to get started with investing that includes stocks, mutual funds, investment clubs, dividend reinvestment programs, and student-operated start-ups. Crowd funding opportunities may also be available to you during college that can have an impact on the investment decisions that you make later on in life.
The more educated you become about the stock market and how it works, the less mystical it will seem to you. Taking stocks as an example, the simplest way to invest is through what are known as dividend reinvestment programs or DRIPs. These allow you to purchase small amounts of a company’s stock, and through the use of dividends a portion of the company’s annual earnings are returned to the company’s shareholders annually; additional shares of stock are purchased automatically. Setting up this type of program can be easy to do and provides you with a great way to learn about investing without putting out a lot of money.
Another area of focus is student-led start-ups. Many of the mainstream products that you see and use today had their start in the dorm room of some entrepreneurial college student. Michael Dell was a University of Texas student playing around with old IBM parts when he developed his first Dell computer prototype in 1984; Mark Zuckerberg played with code in his off time at Harvard to create what we know as social media giant Facebook; Paul Allen and Bill Gates took a program cast off by Xerox while also students at Harvard, which became DOS (disk operating system) used to power nearly every personal computer as it evolved into Microsoft.
There are crowd funding platforms that offer you a chance to invest in a college start-up as well as other means to access information about a project at your school or at other colleges and universities. Use this information to learn what you can about available start-ups and how you can participate in their development as an investor. You may be investing in the next Facebook, Dell, or Microsoft.