The choice is a 529 which contains mutual fund investments or go it your own with individual stocks and forego the tax expense. Your daughter is 3 which gives you 15 years to invest. Given a 305 tax bracket you will have to outperform the 529 by about 3.5% annually in order to have the same amount at the end of 15 years.
NAT is not a vehicle that one would recommend for such a strategy as it is very cyclical in nature. When the time comes to pay tuition you and it is in cyclical lows you could have problems. If you are simply going to buy and hold then the 529's are your best bet. If you want to actively trade you betetr be pretty good for it to pay off.