Each fall, Beloit College provides an insightful overview of the incoming class of college freshmen. As the years fly by, it is easy to forget the unique worldview and history that shapes our students. A review of this list is a helpful read for all of us who will be interacting with this class in the year ahead.
I have edited Beloit’s list to 25 items. The original list can be accessed here.
Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997. Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.
Since they have been on the planet:
- Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.
- Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible.”
- They have never licked a postage stamp.
- Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.
- Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.
- They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
- The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.
- Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.
- Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.
- If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”
- They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.
- Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.
- When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies.
- The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.
- Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online.
- Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.
- Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.
- 32. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.
- At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.
- CNN has always been available en Español.
- Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.
- Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.
- TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks.
- The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.
- Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.
Dr. Jeff Suderman is a lifelong learner, consultant, professor and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman