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Beloit’s List of the Mindset of the Class of 2017

This week, as we are in Faculty In-Service at school and consider this new year of teaching, my thoughts always turn to the list posted each year at beloit.edu/mindset As I begin my 41st year of teaching, I know that I keep getting older each year while most of my students are between the ages of 18 and 22. Increasingly my range of experiences is vastly different from theirs.

Senior Freshman Meme

Our children Megan and Mark have taught or are teaching in elementary school. Both of them have students from their first year of teaching who are now college students. In some ways it's funny to hear them bemoan that those "kids" are now in college, especially since my first class of French 1 students are now eligible for senior discounts in some places! It's all a matter of one's perspective.

Today's post is about the perspective of this year's incoming freshman college students. Below is one of the introductory paragraphs on Beloit's site, followed by my favorite factoids from their list. Keep in mind that some of these statements haven't been true for the whole lives of these young people. For some things, it's simply all that the young people can remember.

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. Mindset List websites at themindsetlist.com and beloit.edu, as well as the Mediasite webcast and their Facebook page receive more than a million visits annually.

The Mindset List for the Class of 2017 (my favorites, with a few bits of commentary in italics)

For this generation of entering college students, born in 1995, Dean Martin and Mickey Mantle have always been dead.

They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal. (This also includes information, no matter how personal. Don't believe me? Check their Facebook!)

As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.

"Dude" has never had a negative tone.

Having a chat has seldom involved talking.

They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.

A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning. (Nor is it just a paper pad you write on.)

Threatening to shut down the government during Federal budget negotiations has always been an anticipated tactic.

Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.

Spray paint has never been legally sold in Chicago.

Thanks to Megan's Law and Amber Alerts, parents have always had community support in keeping children safe.

With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.

Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents' screens grow ever larger. (My kids' TV screens are all larger than ours, but so are their phone screens!)

Java has never been just a cup of coffee.

Americans and Russians have always cooperated better in orbit than on earth.

Olympic fever has always erupted every two years.

As they slept safely in their cribs, the Oklahoma City bomber and the Unabomber were doing their deadly work.

GM means food that is Genetically Modified. (as opposed to Government Motors)

There has never been a national maximum speed on U.S. highways.

Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.

They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.

A Wiki has always been a cooperative web application rather than a shuttle bus in Hawaii.

They have always been able to plug into USB ports

Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.

Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.


Those of you with children or grandchildren who are freshmen in college know how true that info is, even if you don't understand some of it. I'd like to hear your thoughts as well as the reactions of those who are genuinely surprised at what they read.


"Change is part of the gospel." — Al Findley


Sometimes I think I understand everything, but then I regain consciousness.

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2 Comments on “Beloit’s List of the Mindset of the Class of 2017”

  1. #1 Don Johnson
    on Aug 21st, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    For some reason, most of this year’s list seems unsurprising to me. I have seen the list in previous years and was surprised at the differences. Maybe I am forgetting my own past.

    I found this one funny: “The Canadian Football League Stallions have always sung Alouette in Montreal after bidding adieu to Baltimore.”

    I would think that most Americans, who I presume form the basis of this report, would say “Canadian Football League???” The CFL is so far off the radar of most Americans that I would suspect that very few have heard of it at all. Even though it does boast a superior game! (No bias, just fact!!)

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. #2 Theron
    on Aug 28th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Most Americans who follow NFL have heard of the Canadian Football League. Tim Tebow went to the CFL when he left the Jets.