Interest In Investing Skyrockets Among High School Students


Eric Arabadzhiev, Staff Writer

Millions of Americans now have access to the global financial markets at their fingertips. Stories of massive gains, and commission free trading have caused interest in investing to skyrocket – even among teenagers. Brokerage Charles Schwab almost doubled its number of accounts in 2021 alone.

Increasingly, the power and influence these retail investors exert over these markets is substantial. Last January, retail investors, primarily from an online Reddit group called Wall Street Bets, famously drove Gamestop and other so-called “meme” stocks up hundreds of percent. In just a week, Gamestop’s stock rose from $40 to over $400. Many fortunes were minted, and stories shared.

Sophomore Ian Devito said, “I actually made a few hundred dollars by day trading Gamestop during the mania last January.” 

Much of this was driven from distaste for Wall Street and hedge funds in general. One hedge fund, Melvin Capital, had a tremendous short position in Gamestop, meaning they were betting that the stock would fall. The Reddit group caught a whiff of this news, and decided to do what is known as a short squeeze. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, “A squeeze occurs when short sellers respond to a share-price jump by buying back stock they have sold in an effort to keep their losses from mounting.” This is what happened to many hedge funds like Melvin, as retail investors piled into Gamestop causing the share price to soar, and hedge funds with shorts to suffer. It also boosted the stock even more as large hedge funds needed to buy back large amounts of stock to cover their losses.

To many, this was the starting point of their personal investing journeys.

Ian DeVito, a sophomore, said he would watch his friend last year trade and immediately became intrigued. “Then I asked my dad to make me a custodial account on TD Ameritrade, and my friend and I would do it together which made it fun.”

Ryan Christensen said “My dad, who also actively invests in the stock market, was definitely my inspiration. He actually seeded me with $500 to start investing.”

Many think that what has also made investing popular is the community and social aspect that it has built, along with advanced technology. 

 “Technological advances have made it so easy to access and trade. It has also created a community like you see on Reddit,” said Devito.

Coronavirus lockdowns also exacerbated the need for this kind of community and fun.

Christensen said, “The boredom that the COVID shutdown created an immense amount of interest, as younger generations were inspired to go out and start making money in the markets like older generations have always done.”

Technology has also made investing easier than ever before. Along with the rise of commission free trading, first introduced by the popular platform Robinhood, which later forced many other companies to follow suit. 

“It’s really so simple, I just have a TD Ameritrade custodial account, and all I have to do is put in my debit card, and bam I can invest,” Devito said.

Christensen shares this view, although he chooses to use the platform Fidelity.

Barnstable has been slowly adapting to this surge in interest. 

Christensen said, “We now have a business pathway, as well as the newly formed Investment Club starting in January.” 

A small team of four student investors has been competing in the Wharton Global Investment Competition, coming up with a unique investment strategy for a client. This is as a part of the new investment club which is beginning today, January 19 in Room 1605.

The new club will be advised by math teacher Marlo George.

Ms. George said, “I’m really a money person, I love all the aspects of it, and the club will allow kids to learn about investing and have fun doing it.”

Devito, who was a member of this small team, echoed her saying, “We now have the new club which I think will generate even more interest among students, and help students really learn about investing.”  

“I am just as excited as the members to start learning more about this world, and can’t wait to get it going on the 19th,” said George.