NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Over the past decade, investors have seen stocks soar and crash.
They've poured record amounts of money into equities when times were good and then yanked it out when the market turned sour.
During the late 1990s boom, many investors bet heavily on high-tech stocks, such as Cisco Systems, Intel and Oracle. Then during the slump, they scrambled into more conservative stocks.
Now a new bull market seems to be under way. And investors are trying to settle on a new strategy.
If there's one lesson shareholders have learned from the ups and downs of the past 10 years, it's that you need to manage down risk, so that you don't go too far off track even if your market assessment is wrong.
That's where this course comes in.
It's aimed at long-term, conservative growth investors who want to manage their own portfolios, relying largely on individual stocks and bonds. The 17 lessons cover just about everything an individual investor needs to know to achieve superior long-term returns with below-average risk.
And that's what it's really all about.
1. Aiming for a realistic return
Setting reasonable goals increases your odds for long-term success.
2. Identifying your real risks
Volatility is only one part of the equation -- and the least important one. Here's what to consider to ensure you reach your long-term goals.
3. Putting together the right portfolio
Good stock picking alone doesn't ensure long-term success. You also have to get the mix right.
4. The psychology of investing
Here's how to keep your wits about you and boost your long-term returns.
5. Investing for growth
Every portfolio needs a healthy dose of growth. Finding it is easy -- here's how to avoid overpaying for it.
6. Seven questions to ask before buying a growth stock
Look for long-distance runners, not sprinters -- these questions can help determine if you're buying growth that can be sustained.
7. How to spot value
Finding bargains is an art, not a science. But there are rules for getting in at the right price.
8. Selecting stocks for income
We all want a stock that will double overnight. But there's something to be said for steadily rising dividends.
9. How to buy bonds
The stock-picking bug is powerful. But bonds sometimes outperform, and proper use of income investments can boost your overall returns.
10. Preferred shares: uncommon values
Uncovering one of the best-kept secrets in fixed income.
11. Convertibles: the best of both worlds
Can't choose between the growth of stocks and the income of bonds? Convertibles may be your answer.
12. Closed-end funds: Their day will come again
If you catch them at the right time, these often overlooked funds can offer outsized gains.
13. ETFs vs. regular mutual funds
Although they're less familiar, exchange-traded funds can be a better deal than comparable mutual funds.
14. The right way to use stock options
Options trading may be exciting -- but it's usually futile. Here's a strategy for locking in gains and lifting overall returns that really works.
15. Profiting from M&As
When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, there are ways smart individual investors can hold their own against insiders.
16. Frequently asked questions I
Is it bullish if my stock is added to the S&P? Can stock splits and buybacks increase total returns? What should I do with a spinoff?
17. Frequently asked questions II
Should you buy stock on margin? What about socially-conscious investing? Is there any reason to own gold?