Fall’s Around the Corner… So Is the thinkorswim® Challenge for Students

Learning about investing and personal finance are fundamentally important, but it can be hard for college students to get started. Here are some things you can do today, and an upcoming simulated trading competition that gives you a chance to test your knowledge.

https://tickertapecdn.tdameritrade.com/assets/images/pages/md/Students discussing stocks in a trading competition
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Key Takeaways

  • Use a brokerage account to invest in stocks and other securities to pursue your long-term goals
  • Decide which type of brokerage account you want: cash or margin
  • Compare investment choices, fees, and services when choosing a brokerage firm

If you had to guess what 60% of people said they wished they had done earlier in their lives, what do you think it would be? No, it wasn’t traveling the world or starting a new business. They wish they had learned more about investing. 

Look at this way: you know you’re going to need money. And you might need lots of it depending on the life you want after college. With planning and effort, investing can help you get there. One way to get started learning some of the basic concepts is through the thinkorswim® Challenge

I fell in love with investing thanks to my dad, who took the time to explain how the stock market works, that I could be an owner in any business that was publicly traded, and helped walk me through buying my first two stocks. 

My first real-world investing lesson was that it’s important to understand what a company does and how it makes money. The second lesson I learned was one really big winner can make up for a huge loser. The third lesson I learned was that bigger returns typically take time thanks to compound interest. 

Learn Your Own Lessons

There are many resources available and one of the easiest ways is to look and see if your university offers personal finance or investing classes. I learned an immense amount thanks to the classes I took on those subjects. 

Many campuses also have investing clubs you can join, designed to help students learn how to analyze a company and think about what makes a good or bad investment. That might sound boring, but in reality it looks more like debating the merits of whether Tencent’s Fortnite is really going to steal market share from Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty, or if Snapchat’s new features are going to be enough to attract more users to the company.

Like I mentioned before, you can also learn by signing up for the thinkorswim® Challenge. Registration starts on September 3 and runs until October 1, and the four-week competition goes from October 8 to November 3. Last year, 930 teams from 327 schools across 49 states got in on the action. 

The thinkorswim Challenge: Get Hands-On Experience

Yes, there are big prizes for you and your university if you win, but it’s about more than that. “The competition gives you the opportunity to go beyond textbook examples and theories and teaches you key concepts like managing risk, building a portfolio and diversification,” says Lee McAdoo, who heads up Education at TD Ameritrade.You don’t want to miss out, so there are a few things you need to do before the registration ends on October 1 to get ready:

  • Get together with your friends and teammates to form a team of 2 to 4 people. Individuals must be a legal resident of any 1 of the 50 US States or DC (or a nonresident student in the US on a student visa) and age of majority+ as of the date of registration, and all enrolled at the same post–secondary educational institution located in any 1 of 50 US States or DC.
  • Sign up on the thinkorswim® Challenge site.
  • Download the thinkorswim® platform (don’t forget the mobile version for those on-the-go trades).

Next, it’s time to brush up on your education. Whether your question is “what’s a stock?” or “how does vega impact options pricing?”, we’ve got resources to help:

  • Our education videos on YouTube cover everything from the basics of stocks, bonds and ETFs, up to more complex investing and trading strategies.
  • Understanding Options Podcasts take listeners through how the options market works and some key concepts. Keep in mind that options have special risks and they’re not suitable for everyone. 
  • Chief Market Strategist JJ Kinahan’s Essential Option Strategies is a one-stop shop for options resources, regardless of whether you want to learn what a call or a put is, or get a better understanding of complex strategies like Iron Condors and Butterflys. 
  • The thinkorswim® Learning Center has quick guides, tutorials and other information that gives you a rundown on the thinkorswim® platform, which is what you’ll be using during the competition. 
  • Subscribe to The Ticker Tape to get daily Market Updates and content to help you learn basic investing and trading strategies, tips to get started saving for retirement and more. 
  • Tune into the TD Ameritrade Network, our media affiliate, for real-time market news, combined with education to help you keep learning. 

The TD Ameritrade Network is brought to you by TD Ameritrade Media Productions Company. TD Ameritrade Media Productions Company and TD Ameritrade, Inc. are separate but affiliated subsidiaries of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.

When you start learning more about investing, you’re building a fundamentally important skill that can potentially help you have a better life. What are you waiting for?


Key Takeaways

  • Use a brokerage account to invest in stocks and other securities to pursue your long-term goals
  • Decide which type of brokerage account you want: cash or margin
  • Compare investment choices, fees, and services when choosing a brokerage firm

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Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade. Clients must consider all relevant risk factors, including their own personal financial situations, before trading.

Registration open 9/3/18 through 10/1/18. No purchase necessary to enter or win. Must be 18 years or older to participate. Subject to full official rules available at www.thinkorswimchallenge.com.

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