In college, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot of time but not a whole lot of money. So, why not try your hand at some investing on paper? Paper investing is where you simply sign up for a stock tracking service (Yahoo Finance is a good one and what I use to track my stocks outside of my brokerage accounts) and “pretend” to trade. Give yourself $10,000 and just start trading as if you really did put in $10,000 of your own hard earned cash. Be honest and faithful to paper investing and you can learn alot, both about yourself in terms of style and about the market. What you will not learn is how to navigate the brokerage sites and take advantage of “expert” information like analyst reports. While this isn’t a deal killer, paper investing is better than diving into investing blind.
As you mature in your investing, you’ll start learning various analytical methods which will become valuable when you trade for real. You may also learn that you’re simply not good at investing in stocks and learning with play money is a lot better than learning (losing!) with real money. If you’re like me, you’ll probably enjoy reading all that you can about investing and one of the greatest resources I’ve found has been the daily linkfests penned by Charles Kirk at The Kirk Report . (He didn’t pay me anything for that, I’ve been saying it forever) Charles compiles a list of pertinent and insightful links to articles that I certainly wouldn’t have found on my own. Check out his latest linkfest  and tell me there was a chance in hell that you would normally find yourself reading The Insider Monitor  for the top 50 insider buys and sells?
This article is part of a new series I’ve started called Personal Finance for College Students  (hence, PF College).