Image Credit: "I'm Hot" by Chris Griffin

As a college professor — and a parent — I’ve long realized that it’s important to use relatable pop culture examples when talking with people, especially when the people are significantly younger than I am. If I tell a student to stop acting like Horshack in class today, I am met with the sound of crickets; 25 years ago, my students knew exactly what I meant.

Tom McBride and Ron Nief, two professors from Beloit College, have made it easier for folks like me to realize what’s going on in the minds of today’s college first-year students, at least in the United States, with their annual Mindset Lists. Just a few hours ago, McBride and Nief released the Mindset List for the Class of 2015. Below, I’ve cherry picked a baker’s dozen of my favorite items from the list. You can find the entire list at the Mindset List website.

  • They “swipe” cards, not merchandise.
  • Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
  • Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
  • Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.
  • Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
  • Music has always been available via free downloads.
  • 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.
  • Life has always been like a box of chocolates.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
  • Video games have always had ratings.
  • McDonald’s coffee has always been just a little too hot to handle.
  • They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.

I encourage you to go take a look at the entire Mindset List for the Class of 2015; you just might find some ideas in there that will help you relate to today’s first-year student.


One Response to What ARE They Thinking? A Look Into the Minds of Today’s College First-Year Students

  1. Lindy Davidson says:

    I really like the one about Ferris Bueller being their dad! Something else I have to remember, not only do they not remember the 80’s, they weren’t even born in the 80’s, and all of their regard for 80’s music is in the spirit of going “retro.”