By Ayala Blumenkrantz
Students at John Jay realize money doesn’t grow on trees, but have no idea that money does grow in the stock exchange; the only part of the American economy that is booming rather than flailing.
“Oh God, I don’t know anything,” Cynthia Zajaczkowski, a student pursuing a Forensic Science said.
International Criminal Justice major, Yorkt Peralta, had a similar reaction: “All I know is that the stock market has numbers with lots of arrows.”
A common misconception throughout John Jay is the perception of exclusivity. Students generally believe investing is only for the wealthy or business class, when in reality everyone can invest.
“It’s something for Wall Street,” Peralta said.
However, even with limited knowledge, students expressed interest in the stock market and investing at some point in their lives. In an interview of students at the college, some students responded that they believed they will invest later on in life, while others responded that they will invest in their college years.
Many students stated their limited knowledge of the stock market as the reason for pushing off investing. “Because I don’t know anything about the stock market, I’d be too afraid,” Alorah Bliese, an honors student said.
Students are also not aware of how to go about investing: “I wouldn’t know what I was doing,” freshman Kevin Hall said.
A major reason students do not know about the stock market is because the internet is used mainly for social networking. Stock information can be found with any web browser. From the basics of the stock market to investment strategies, most everything is available online. There are even websites like foxonstocks.com, which was created by teenage actress Rachel Fox, that are geared specifically to college students on the subject of investing.
Kenneth Valle, a financial services representative at TD Bank said, “The most important thing is educating yourself about the market.”
The few students who had a basic understanding of the stock market all attributed it to an economics class in high school that taught financial literacy.
“We had a stock market game in my economics class in high school,” Amanda Salvato said. She went into detail about a fantasy stock market she had to maintain with an assigned group. They tracked their losses and gains, and were required to make trades every few weeks.
“I got really into it,” Salvato said. Nevertheless, she currently does not invest because she feels like she is too young to enter the market.
Most students interviewed, did not have a high school economics class that taught financial literacy, but claimed they would be interested in taking a course in college to learn about the stock market.
Peralta, said, “I would invest if I had more information.”
Unfortunately, classes that teach financial literacy are not available at John Jay, because there is no Finance major. Essentially, the only way John Jay students can get information is through the internet, or through a stock broker. Banks like Chase, have stock brokers that talk to their customers on an appointment bases, but also take walk-ins, although the wait might be long. Stock Brokers will explain investing, and then work with the client on creating a successful stock portfolio, all the while only taking commission on gains in the portfolio.
While lack of knowledge was the primary reason students gave for not investing, lack of money followed closely behind.
“I can’t invest because I don’t have a job,” Garcia said.
Although Garcia has a basic understanding of the stock market from a high school economics class, her finances play a role in her decision to push off investing: “I would, if I had the money,” Norhan Ahmez said. College students’ wallets are usually tight, and investing is not on their radar.
In addition to lack of information and monetary reasons, students gave an array of other things stopping them from investing.
“I feel like I’m too young,” Salvato said.
“Some students, like Maria Savino said, “I never really thought about it.”
Erica Fontanes claimed her Economics teacher in high school turned her off by making the students do tedious work in relation to the stock market. The class had specific requirements regarding fantasy trading, and the students were constantly busy with maintaining their portfolios.
Furthermore, those were just a few students’ responses and still, the most common reason students do not invest is because they do not have enough information.
As Bliese put it, “I don’t know shit about the stock market.”