What’s Shaping the Minds of This Year’s Freshman Class, the Class of 2021

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.

Today, the Mindset List of the Class of 2021 was released.

The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities 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.

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

  • Are the last class to be born in the 1900s, making them the last of the Millennials.
  • Are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, or a research library.
  • Have always had emojis to cheer them up.

For those who cannot comprehend that it has been 18 years since this year’s entering college students were born, they should recognize that the next four years will go even faster, confirming the authors’ belief that “generation gaps have always needed glue.”

Here are a few nuggets from this year’s Mindset Class for the Class of 2021. You must read the entire list here!

  • They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
  • Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
  • They have always been searching for Pokemon.
  • By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
  • Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
  • Ketchup has always come in green.
  • The BBC has always had a network in the U.S. where they speak American.
  • Family Guy is the successor to the Father Knows Best they never knew.

You can find the rest of the list here.

Read it now.

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My 5 Generation Family is a Microcosm of Society

The legions of ancient Rome were composed of ten cohorts each: cohesive units of 300-600 men who trained, ate, slept, fought, won, lost, lived, and died together. The strength was their ability to think, act, and react as a unit. Though composed of individuals, training and socialization equipped them to behave as if of a single mind when called to battle. Social demographers, students of the effects of population on society, use the term cohort to refer to people born in the same general time span who share key life experiences – from setting out for school for the first time together through reaching puberty at the same time, to entering the workforce or university or marriage or middle age or their dotage at the same time.

The five primary generations of today’s American lifestyle span a remarkable slice of American and world history. Three major wars, countless minor (?) ones, economic booms and busts, social upheavals, rocketing technological achievement, and even stepping beyond our planet are among the milestones that have directly and indirectly shaped the times.

I count myself fortunate to have a direct connection to all five generations. To me, understanding more about how each of them think, feel, and act is not just a mental exercise – it’s necessary part of life.

  • Veterans (1922-1945) My father and mother were born into the early part of this cohort. He entered military service just as WWII was ending; she was in college and then taught school; they were part of what some call “The Greatest Generation”. Think “American values” and you’ve got their number: civic pride, loyalty, respect for authority, and apple pie. My father passed away in 2012, and my mother is in declining health now. But as a cohort, their generation may be moving into their twilight years, but they still control a significant part of the economy and will continue to be influential in the years ahead.
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) I am a late Baby Boomer. Born in 1958, I am a part of what was until recently the largest cohort in US history. For over thirty years, the sheer size of the Boomer generation defined the organization’s social landscape in a majority-rules cultural takeover. We were the civil rights, empowerment, and diversity generation. Never content with the status quo, we are always redefining what it means to be old and cool and important and successful.
  • Generation X (1965-1981) My oldest son and one of my daughters-in-law are Xers, even though they sometimes exhibit characteristics of the next cohort as well. Technologically adept, clever, and resourceful, the Xers are a deeply segmented, fragmented cohort. Their need for feed back and flexibility, coupled with the dislike of close supervision is but one of the many complex nuances of this generation. They are all about change- they’ve changed cities, homes, and even parents all their lives. Often seen as pessimistic with an edgy skepticism, many Xers are more positive about their personal future than the group as a whole.
  • Millennials (1982-2000) My other three children, a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law all fall into this cohort. They are the children of the soccer moms and little League dads, and endless rounds of swim meets, karate classes, dancing lessons, computer camp and … you get the picture. They consider themselves the smartest, cleverest, healthiest and most-wanted group to have ever lived. Born into the technology boom times, barriers of time and space have little absolute meaning to them. They are willing to work and learn. By sheer numbers (their total births eclipsed the Boomers by several million) they are going to dominate history in new ways. They are the hyper-connected: constantly connected to multiple devices in order to know what and whom they need to know.
  • Generation Y (born after 2001) Just now entering into the teenage years, sociologists have little hard data yet. But it is the generation of my four grandchildren, and it is important to me! There are some indications that generational cohorts repeat every four generations, so we’ll just have to see. At least from my viewpoint, their generation will be about social technologies, a decreasing importance of the US, and a growing global awareness.

An interesting fact, and the origin of the title of this website: there are 27 years between each of the above generations in my family, thus 27gen.

The next five to ten years are going to be very interesting as each of these five generations exert influence on each other. I will be actively watching my own microcosm of society!

AdamsFamily5314

What’s Shaped the Mindset of Today’s College Freshmen?

It’s 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 2017 – courtesy of Beloit College.

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

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 former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, 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, those 18 year olds who:

  • Use smart phones in class to indicate they are reading the assignment they should have read last night, or they may be recording every minute of their college experience…or they may be texting the person next to them.
  • Though they have never had the chicken pox, they are glad to have access to health insurance for a few more years.
  • Will search for the academic majors reported to lead to good-paying jobs, and most of them will take a few courses taught at a distant university by a professor they will never meet.

When the Class of 2017 arrives on campus this fall, these digital natives will already be well-connected to each other. They are more likely to have borrowed money for college than their Boomer parents were, and while their parents foresee four years of school, the students are pretty sure it will be longer than that.  If they are admirers of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, they may wonder whether a college degree is all it’s cracked up to be, even as their dreams are tempered by the reality that tech geniuses come along about as often as Halley’s Comet, which they will not glimpse until they reach what we currently consider “retirement age.”

They will study hard, learn a good deal more, teach their professors quite a lot, and realize eventually that they will soon be in power. After all, by the time they hit their thirties, four out of ten voters will be of their generation. Whatever their employers may think of them, politicians will be paying close attention.

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

  • They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger.
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
  • Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
  • Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.
  • They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
  • Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.
  • Olympic fever has always erupted every two years.
  • They have known only two presidents.

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!

What Shapes the Mind of Today’s Freshman…the Beloit Mindset List of the Class of 2016 is Out

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.

Today, the Mindset List of the Class of 2016 was released.

The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities 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.

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

  • Were born into cyberspace and therefore measure their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds
  • Came to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future
  • Have never needed an actual airline “ticket”
  • Are the most tribal generation in history, and they despise being separated from contact with their friends

For those who cannot comprehend that it has been 18 years since this year’s entering college students were born, they should recognize that the next four years will go even faster, confirming the authors’ belief that “generation gaps have always needed glue.”

Here are a few nuggets from this year’s Mindset Class for the Class of 2016. You must read the entire list here!

For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon, and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.

  • They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
  • They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
  • Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
  • There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
  • A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
  • Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy.
  • They were too young to enjoy the 1994 World Series, but then no one else got to enjoy it either.
  • They know many established film stars by their voices on computer-animated blockbusters.
  • History has always had its own channel.
  • Point and shoot cameras are sooooo last millennium.

You can find the rest of the list here.

Read it now.

Off to College: The Mindset List of the Class of 2015

My son enters Johnson & Wales University in about a week, so it was with great anticipation I awaited Beloit College’s annual mindset list and it was just released.

“This year’s entering college class of 2015 was born just as the Internet took everyone onto the information highway and as Amazon began its relentless flow of books and everything else into their lives.  Members of this year’s freshman class, most of them born in 1993, are the first generation to grow up taking the word “online” for granted and for whom crossing the digital divide has redefined research, original sources and access to information, changing the central experiences and methods in their lives. They have come of age as women assumed command of U.S. Navy ships, altar girls served routinely at Catholic Mass, and when everything from parents analyzing childhood maladies to their breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends, sometimes quite publicly, have been accomplished on the Internet.”

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. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

Mindset List websites at Beloit College and at mindsetmoment.com, the media site webcast and their Facebook page receive more than a million hits annually.

“As for the class of 2015, without any memory whatever of George Herbert Walker Bush as president, they came into existence as Bill Clinton came into the presidency. Their parents, frequently older than one might expect because women have always been able to get pregnant almost regardless of age, have hovered over them with extra care and have agreed with those states that mandated the wearing of bike helmets. Ferris Bueller could be their overly cautious dad, and Jimmy Carter is an elderly smiling public man who appears occasionally on television doing good works. “Dial-up,” Woolworths and the Sears “Big Book” are as antique to them as “talking machines” might have been to their grandparents. Meanwhile, as they’ve wondered why O.J. Simpson has always been suspected of something, they have all “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt,” shortened boring conversations with “yadda, yadda, yadda,” and recognized LBJ as LeBron James.”

“For those who cannot comprehend that it has been 18 years since this year’s class was born, they will quickly confirm that the next four years will go even faster and, like the rest of us, they will continue to grow older at increasing speed.”

Here are a few items on the list:

  • There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
  • Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents.
  • States and Velcro parents have always been requiring that they wear their bike helmets.
  • The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
  • There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.
  • They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
  • Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
  • “Don’t touch that dial!”….what dial?
  • American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
  • More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
  • Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
  • Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
  • All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.”
  • O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
  • Women have never been too old to have children.
  • Japan has always been importing rice.
  • Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective.
  • We have never asked, and they have never had to tell.
  • Life has always been like a box of chocolates.

For this year’s complete list and more about Beloit College, go here.


The Next Great Generation

Leave it to a Millennial to dig up some research on her own generation and send it to me. Well, that’s my daughter – what can I say?

Part 1 of a 4-part series on Generations in ChurchWorld

Last week this post introduced the generational lens that I view a lot of things through. Today I want to look at the first of four generations active in ChurchWorld leadership roles today, and the implications for you as a leader with your own team. The other three generations will be examined the rest of this week.

Just in case you wondered, there is a fifth generation that’s almost in a position of leadership – those born from the late ‘90s on. The oldest of that generation is already leading your youth or student groups, even without a position of leadership – but that is another series for another day! Now about those Millennials…

The Next Great Generation

Meet the Millennials, born in or after 1982 through the late ‘90s  – the “Babies on Board” of the early Reagan years, the “Have You Hugged Your Child Today?” sixth graders of the early Clinton years, the teens of Columbine, the much-touted Class of 2000 entering the new Millennium, and this year, poised to enter their thirties.

As a group, Millennials are unlike any other youth generation in living memory. They are more numerous, more affluent, better educated, and more ethnically diverse. More importantly, they are beginning to manifest a wide array of positive social habits that older Americans no longer associate with youth, including a new focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and good conduct.

When you fit these changes into the broader rhythms of American history, you can get a good idea of what kind of adult generation the Millennials have demonstrated so far, and are likely becoming. You can foresee their future hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, as they rise to adulthood and, in time, to power. You can understand how today’s young adults are on the way to becoming a powerhouse generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders. Many observers think this generation will dominate the twenty-first century like today’s fading and ennobled G.I. Generation dominated the twentieth. Millennials have a solid chance to becomeAmerica’s next great generation, celebrated for their collective deeds a hundred years from now.

– from “Millennials Rising” by Neil Howe and William Strauss

And they are the “young gun” leaders chomping at the bit in ChurchWorld today.

Millennials want to make a difference from the day they arrive on the scene, and think they can. After all, they had parents who told them how great they were. They listened to Baby Einstein to get smarter. They expected to get an A in school, and if they didn’t, they negotiated with the school staff.

Millennials bring a lot of valuable skill sets in terms of thinking outside the box and in the world of technology. They are the first generation that are digital natives. They don’t know what status quo means, but they will be the first to speak up is something doesn’t work.

Some thoughts to consider when leading Millennials:

  • Provide specific examples of what you expect at the office
  • Give them feedback at least once a month
  • Capable of learning several tasks simultaneously and performing them admirably
  • Flexible scheduling is important in developing a balanced life
  • “Fun” is not an F-word; it’s a vital aspect of a meaningful, productive workplace
  • Leadership is a participative process; they will learn best from leaders who engage them
  • Continuous learning is a way of life
  • Diversity is expected
  • Being hyper-connected is normal

By 2015 (less than four years away!) Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to the Millennials. When you consider the changes in the amount of knowledge available at our fingertips, the advent of social technologies, and the expansion of the global economy over the past decade, it’s no wonder that generational collisions are inevitable – even in ChurchWorld.

Are you ready?

Generational Disclosure: I am the parent of three Millennials: a 27 year-old son completing Air Force Basic Training, married with a daughter who is nine months old; a 23 year-old daughter who is employed as a communication director and is completing a Masters in Divinity; and an 18 year-old son who is beginning college this fall as a culinary arts/food services management major. My generational studies start at home!