Each year, I enjoy reading the “Mindset List” for the new class of college freshmen. The “Mindset List” was created by Tom McBride and Ron Nief at Beloit College in 1998. The list was meant to reflect the world view of entering first year students and to help faculty understand incoming classes. The list started with members of the 2002 class, who were born in 1980. More recently, the “Mindset List” moved to Marist College, but it is essentially the same.
I always enjoy reading it because the world is constantly changing and as a member of the LaGrange College Board of Trustees, it helps me get in touch with how incoming freshmen see the world around them. I also find it is helpful for the church and for me as a pastor.
Here is a sampling of the Mindset List for the Class of 2023:
• Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is an historical event.
• The primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures.
• Their smart pens may write and record faster than they can think.
• The Tech Big Four—Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google—are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents.
• Nearly half of their generation is composed of people of color.
• Oklahoma City has always had a national memorial at its center.
• Because of Richard Reid’s explosive footwear at 30,000 feet, passengers have always had to take off their shoes to slide through security on the ground.
• Snapchat has become their social media app of choice.
• Pay Pal has always been an online option for purchasers.
• YouTube has become the video version of Wikipedia.
• By their sophomore year, their generation will constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.
• Only two-thirds of this generation identify as exclusively heterosexual.
• They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do.
• They have probably all been “gaslighted” or “ghosted.”
• There have always been smartwatches.
• They have grown up with a Patriot Act that has dramatically increased state surveillance to prevent terrorism.
• Blackboards have never been dumb.
• Teams have always been engaged in an Amazing Race around the world.
I look at that list and can’t help but see how different the world is for these college freshmen than it was for me when I was their age. As I say, the world is constantly changing. As a church, it is important that we be aware of how it is changing, for even though the message of the good news of Jesus Christ never changes, the methods by which we share that good news must always be changing.
Personally, I’m excited about this new generation coming along. Although the “Mindset List” didn’t say anything about this, I also find they are smart, care deeply about the world around them, take seriously matters of faith and want to make a positive difference. Imagine what Jesus can do with people who possess those qualities.