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From School to Real-World: My Advice to College Students

September 28, 2015
From School to Real-World: My Advice to College Students

Dear Students,

You can’t tell me that you don’t need to know at least the basics of personal finance. Sure, you all know how to earn and spend money, but knowing how to make your money grow is equally important. If you didn’t grow up learning how to save, budget, and invest, chances are you’ll be behind the curve when you earn your first post-graduation paycheck. Whether you’re making the most of your work-study job or thinking about making your first million from your dorm room, I challenge you to prioritize getting educated on personal finance and the markets.

Personally, I can credit my career in finance to growing up in a market-obsessed family and a well-timed introduction to investing course in college. That course and my first investment inspired me to work in the brokerage industry. I’ve witnessed the boom, the bubble, and the crash. I made money and I lost money, but I also discovered something. There’s a lack of quality investing education and information. If I do nothing else, my mission is to help all investors—especially young women and men like you—get access to essential information for making smart financial decisions.

Get over your fear of the markets

If you’re in Gen Z or a member of the millennial generation, you had the misfortune of growing up in the recession. The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc with your generations’ feelings about finance and the stock market. We conducted a study in 2014 and found that only 17% of your peers believe the stock market is the best way to save for retirement and 47% think a savings account is the better way to save. Really? How will your money grow in a savings account with nominal interest earned? In your generation, the average age to start investing is 27. Ladies and gents, consider investing earlier so you can experience the joy of dividends. But where to start?

Bridge the gap from school to the real-world

The best lessons about money are the ones that don’t cost you a dime. That’s why I’m thrilled to champion the thinkorswim Challenge through TD Ameritrade U.

We created a virtual trading competition to educate students like you—no matter your major—about the markets. Our goal is to inspire you to take control of your finances and feel confident about becoming the next generation of investors and traders.

The thinkorswim Challenge lets you trade with paperMoney® for a risk-free way to simulate trading in a realistic environment. Here’s how it works: students in colleges around the nation form teams and compete in four weeks of hard-core trading—stocks, ETFs, options—it’s all there. So are the education and resources to help you succeed. And it’s all free, so it won’t make a dent in your ramen noodles and beer budget. Last year, nearly 900 students on 245 teams from colleges in 32 states competed for bragging rights and bona fide cash prizes. Go Mean Green, a team of three finance majors from the University of North Texas, won the whole shebang last year. Not only are they using some of their winnings to trade in real life, but they count the experience as an invaluable lesson:

“The competition was really helpful in prepping us for trading in the real world. We learned a lot about the market’s psychology—the fear and the greed.  The thinkorswim Challenge showed us what we can really do and helped us understand the risk. This experience will stick with me for the rest of my life.”    - Team Captain, Mason Hendrickson

And, that, guys and gals? Well, it makes my trader heart skip a beat. I want you to be able to trade in a confident way that helps you invest in your very bright futures.  

Ready, set, trade

The 2014 thinkorswim Challenge knocked our socks off. Seriously, the teams impressed us with the array of skills and trading strategies tried and learned. So now we’re giving you your shot. We’re bringing the competition back for year two because we believe in giving you the fundamental resources and knowledge you need to trade. Get excited for the 2015 thinkorswim Challenge.

Registration is now open and the virtual trading starts October 12. And what’s a competition without some money on the line? To make the thinkorswim Challenge even more interesting, we have cash prizes for the winning students and school. So, round up your team members and go get those virtual markets! Make me proud.

Talk soon,



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