The Class of 2023 is Headed to a College Campus Near You

The Mindset List® has delighted millions for over a decade about what has “always” or “never” been true for entering college students. It was created at Beloit College in 1998 to reflect the world view of entering first year students, and started with the members of the class of 2002, born in 1980.

What started as a witty way of saying to faculty colleagues “watch your references,” has turned into a globally reported and utilized guide to the intelligent if unprepared adolescent consciousness. It is requested by thousands of readers, reprinted in hundreds of print and electronic publications, and used for a wide variety of purposes. It immediately caught the imagination of the public, and in the ensuing years, has drawn responses from around the world. This site now gets more than a million hits a year.

The Mindset List®, an annual compilation of what has always and never been true for new college freshmen, has changed hands from founder Beloit College to Marist College.

Recently, the Mindset List of the Class of 2023 was released.

This fall’s college class of 2023, now arriving on campuses, learned of the attack on New York’s Twin Towers from parents and grandparents once they were old enough to handle it. Born in 2001, they have lived in a world in which shedding shoes at airport security; capturing news from crawling headlines on the TV screen; flying Jet Blue; and recognizing that blackboards, pens, and watches are sometimes smarter than we are have all been routine occurrences.

The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Emeritus Professor of English Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal, it 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.

Nief and co-editor Tom McBride, and list co-author Beloit Professor of Sociology Charles Westerberg have been working with Marist during the transition. “This annual list is a cultural touchstone,” noted Marist’s Executive Vice President Geoffrey Brackett. “Every year Ron, Tom, and Charles have done the remarkable work of encapsulating a changing world into a cohesive list. The list has served as a reminder to the wider community of colleges and universities of the importance of understanding the constantly altering landscape outside of higher education. Marist hopes to continue that service by taking on The Mindset List and strategically expanding its capabilities and reach.”

Leaders – of all ages – need to understand what has shaped the lives of today’s entering college freshman class, those 18 year olds characterized by the following:

  • Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is an historical event.
  • The primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures.
  • YouTube has become the video version of Wikipedia.

According to Westerberg,

With half of this generation composed of people of color, they are among the most demographically significant cohorts in American history. American politics today is hard to comprehend without taking account of this major trend since, within a year, their generation will represent 25% of the U.S. population.

Here’s a few more characteristics to whet your appetite:

  • They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do.
  • Apple iPods have always been nostalgic.
  • Most of them will rent, not buy, their textbooks.
  • The Tech Big Four – Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google – are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents.

You can read the whole list here.

“The Mindset List helps put into context the growing interest high school and college students have in social issues,” noted Martin Shaffer, Dean of Marist’s School of Liberal Arts. “We’re seeing a more engaged, more deeply involved student body on campus.”

Even if you’re not a college professor, you need to read the whole list here.

With contributions from parents and academics around the world, the List has tracked cultural change, stimulated intergenerational conversation, and just made older people feel even older.

– Tom McBride and Charles Westerberg

Indeed.

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