What’s On the Mind of the Class of 2020?

It’s mid-August, and school is back in session for most students.

That means it’s time for my annual encouragement for leaders to take a look at the mindset of this year’s entering college freshmen, the class of 2020 – courtesy of Beloit College.

Classof2020

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.

Prepared by Beloit’s director of public affairs emeritus Ron Nief, professor of English emeritus Tom McBride, and Associate Dean of the College Charles Westerberg, the list was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.

Leaders – of all ages – need to understand what has shaped the lives of today’s entering college freshman class.

We have had the NOW generation…get ready for the RIGHT NOW generation, entering college this fall. This fall’s entering college students, the class of 2020, were born in 1998 and cannot remember a time when they had to wait for anything. They also can’t recall a time when the United States was not at war, or when someone named Bush or Clinton was not running for office.

And although they think of themselves as a powerful generation—Sanders voters, consumers—they are faced with the prospect of student loan debt and of robots and foreigners taking their jobs making them feel anxious and weak. “They know that they’re going to have to wait for that first breakthrough job and getting their school loans paid off.” said Tom McBride, one of the List’s authors. “They’re an impatient generation learning how to be patient.”

You need to read the whole list here, but these are my Top Ten:

  • There has always been a digital swap meet called eBay.
  • There have always been Cadillac Escalades, but they just don’t seem to be all that into cars.
  • The Sandy Hook tragedy is their Columbine.
  • The United States has always been at war.
  • Serena Williams has always been winning Grand Slam singles titles.
  • They have never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time.
  • Each year they’ve been alive the U.S. population has grown by more than one million Latinos.
  • If you want to reach them, you’d better send a text—emails are oft ignored.
  • Robots have always been surgical partners in the O.R.
  • Michael J. Fox has always spoken publicly about having Parkinson’s disease.

Here’s a slideshow version introducing the class of 2020.

The List was compiled to identify both the common ground that teachers and students share, and the mine fields of misunderstanding that seem to grow wider with every forgotten reference to the Berlin Wall or Monica Lewinsky.

Enjoy!

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