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The New England Liberal Arts College Student ETF

If you’re interested in investing (or not), maybe you’ve heard of the Becky ETF. ETF stands for exchange-traded fund and is essentially a basket of securities. The Becky ETF intends to reflect the purchasing patterns of “basic” girls including investments in Chipotle, Starbucks, and Netflix. 

The Becky ETF is not an officially listed ETF, but rather a “joke” simulation that started on Reddit. However, this joke is actually a pretty smart investment strategy. An article in the Harvard Business Review, titled “The Female Economy,” says that women make a significant amount of the purchasing decisions in households. As such, it pays off to invest like a “basic” woman. 

The Becky ETF pokes fun at the stereotype of the “basic” girl, and there’s even been a Chad ETF created to reflect the purchasing patterns of the “basic” guy. However, there has not been an ETF created for my favorite stereotype, of that I fall under, the New England liberal arts college student. 

These students are enigmatic, clomping around small historic campuses in Bean boots and Blundstones, attending open poetry mics in student-run coffee shops, and paying $70,000 to do so at colleges with ridiculous mascots like the camel and the Jumbo. Though I love and cherish my college experience, it does make sense that people tease liberal arts students.

So, I thought, why not poke fun and make an ETF that reflects the purchasing patterns of a New England liberal arts college student? Here are what companies I would invest in if I wanted to invest like a New England liberal arts college student. 

  1. Oatly – OTLY 

Drink cow’s milk? Never! You’ll find that most liberal arts students, at least at Conn, take their coffee with an alternative milk, like almond milk or oat milk.  If you want to invest like one, you better buy some stock in Oatly, one of the most popular oat milk brands. 

  1. Spotify – SPOT

Liberal arts students like to distinguish themselves from the rest, somehow all claiming to be “not like other girls/boys/people,” whether it is the truth or not. One way you’ll find liberal arts students projecting their uniqueness is through their music playlists, chock full of artists and bands you “probably haven’t heard of.”  Spotify is the way to go–buy low, sell high!

  1. Beyond Meat – BYND 

Many liberal arts college students are vegan or vegetarian, whether it be for environmental reasons, ethical reasons, or just because! Meat-alternative burgers are a dining hall staple for my vegan and vegetarian friends, plus the Beyond Meat founder attended Conn, so why shouldn’t you invest? 

4. Tinder (owned by Match Group) – MTCH

Even though the student body is smaller than that of some high schools, that doesn’t deter liberal arts college students from online dating. Part of the liberal arts experience is running into your Tinder matches in the dining hall, on the green, and in the library. Despite the slight embarrassment, students aren’t stopping their swiping any time soon, so you better invest now! 

5. Green investment of some sort – Sunrun (RUN) solar power, FuelTech (FTEK) pollution controls

Paper straws, a student-run garden, water bottle filling stations–liberal arts colleges (or at least Conn) care about sustainability! As such, this ETF would include green investments in alternative energy like solar power or waste management such as pollution controls.

6. Dunkin’ – DNK

America, *cough cough* New England, runs on Dunkin! Not a day goes by without me seeing that signature orange and pink cup on campus. Maybe its value will increase as colleges admit larger and larger first-year classes?

7. Urban Outfitters, Free People, Anthropologie – URBN

Unfortunately, thrift shops are not publicly traded, or else they would’ve been included in this ETF. However, Urban Outfitters is publicly traded, and nothing screams New England like going out in a little crop top in below-freezing temperatures. 

If you’re looking to change up your portfolio, maybe try investing like a New England liberal arts college student and see what the returns are like!

Kendall Foley

Conn Coll '24

Kendall Foley is a sophomore at Connecticut College majoring in Philosophy and pursuing a Pathway in Data, Information, and Society. At Conn, Kendall plays for the women's water polo team and is an intern in the Office of Student Accessibility Services. In her free time, you can find Kendall open-water swimming, baking, or spending time with her family.
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