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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Ready or Not, the Class of 2018 is Here!

It’s August, and most kids are back in school.

At our house, our youngest (of four) is a senior at Johnson and Wales University, where he will finish classwork a semester early. When he graduates next spring, it will be the culmination of a lot of years of school – our oldest started kindergarten in 1986. With four kids, born four years apart, that’s 29 straight years of some form of education: elementary, middle, and high school; undergraduate and graduate school.

Wow – have things changed a lot in those 29 years!

Which brings me to one of my favorite days – and topics – of the year: the release of Beloit College’s Mindset List for this year’s incoming college freshman class, the graduating class of 2018.

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. 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, themindsetlist.com, and their Facebook page receive more than a million hits annually.

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

arrive on campuses in the coming weeks, coming with a view of the world quite distinct from their mentors.  Most born in 1996, they have always had The Daily Show to set them straight, always been able to secure immediate approval and endorsement for their ideas through “likes” on their Facebook pages, and have rarely heard the term “bi-partisan agreement.

Please read the whole list here, but these are my Top Ten:

  1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.
  2. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.
  3. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”
  4. Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.
  5. FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.
  6. There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.
  7. While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.
  8. Two-term presidents are routine, but none of them ever won in a landslide.
  9. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.
  10. Since Toys R Us created a toy registry for kids, visits to Santa are just a formality.

Behind the light humor of the Mindset List there are always some serious issues about the future of the class and their role in the future of the nation,” notes the List’s editors Ron Nief and Tom McBride. “The digital technology that affords them privacy from their parents robs them of their privacy amid the “big data” of the NSA and Google. How will the absence of instant online approval impact their performance in the classroom and work-place?

If you’re more visually-minded, here is a brief interview with the authors.

Enjoy!