It’s that time of year again. Students are returning to colleges across the nation, which means a new freshman class. Which means the annual college freshman mindset list from Beloit College, always a cultural eye-opener in terms of changing times.
As the author’s observe, “This year’s entering college class of 2021 can’t remember when a ‘phone’ wasn’t a video game and research library. Mostly born in 1999, they’ve always been searching for Pokémon. They’ve never read a Peanuts strip that wasn’t a repeat and they never had the privilege of a Montgomery Ward catalogue as a booster seat. They have persevered in a world without Joe Dimaggio and brightened by emoji. If you ask them about the whine of a dial-up modem, expect a blank stare.
“These are among the items in this year’s Beloit College Mindset List, the 20th such release since the list was first compiled in 1998. The List’s current subjects are the last class to be born in the 1900s—the last of the Millennials.”
I’ve picked a few of my favorites from their 60-point list. And remember, students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1999.
1. They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials—enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!
2. They are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph and research library.
3. Electronic signatures have always been as legally binding as the pen-on-paper kind.
4. In college, they will often think of themselves as consumers who’ve borrowed a lot of money to be there.
5. eHarmony has always offered an algorithm for happiness.
6. Peanuts comic strips have always been repeats.
7. They have largely grown up in a floppy-less world.
8. There have always been emoji to cheer us up.
9. The Panama Canal has always belonged to Panama, and Macau has always been part of China.
10. It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
11. Donald Trump has always been a political figure, as a Democrat, an Independent and a Republican.
12. Zappos has always meant shoes on the Internet.
13. They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
14. Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
15. In their lifetimes, “Blackberry” has gone from being a wild fruit to being a communications device to becoming a wild fruit again.
16. They have always been searching for Pokémon.
17. Dora the Explorer and her pet monkey, Boots, helped to set them on the course of discovery.
18. Jet Blue has always been a favorite travel option, but the Concorde has been permanently grounded.
19. By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
20. There has never been a Coliseum in New York, but there has always been a London Eye on the Thames.
21. Once on campus, they will find that college syllabi—replete with policies about disability, non-discrimination and learning goals—might be longer than some of their reading assignments.
22. As toddlers they may have dined on some of that canned food hoarded in case of Y2K.
23. Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
24. Globalization has always been both a powerful fact of life and a source of incessant protest.
25. Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.
26. As toddlers, they may have taught their grandparents how to Skype.
27. Nolan Ryan has always worn his Texas Rangers cap in Cooperstown, while Steve Young and Dan Marino have always been watching football from the sidelines.
28. Wikipedia has steadily gained acceptance by their teachers.
29. Justin Timberlake has always been a solo act.
And last but not least…
30. Bill Clinton has always been Hillary Clinton’s aging husband.
James Emery White
“The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2021,” Beloit College, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.