This fall’s college class of 2023, now arriving on college campuses, learned of the attack on New York’s Twin Towers from parents and grandparents once they were old enough to handle it. Born in 2001, they have lived in a world in which shedding shoes at airport security; capturing news from crawling headlines on the TV screen; flying Jet Blue; and recognizing that blackboards, pens, and watches are sometimes smarter than we are have all been routine occurrences.
These are among the observations in the 2019 Marist Mindset List that captures the worldview of this year’s first-year college class, noting what has “always” or “never” been true in their lifetimes and how the colleges that will serve them should better understand their lived experiences. This is the 22nd edition of the Mindset List and the first year that it has been affiliated with Marist College. Marist is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Most Innovative School, and taking over the Mindset List was a logical move for this very tech-forward institution.
“We’re tech savvy but we are rooted in the liberal arts,” said Martin Shaffer, Dean of Marist’s School of Liberal Arts. “So much of what the Mindset List explores is related to the very different world in which these students have grown up as it relates to technology. That naturally leads to a very different type of life experience.”
The entering class of 2023, variously known as Gen Z, Gen I, Gen Tech, and “The Plurals,” is the first class whose majority was born in the 21st century. List contributor Tom Zurhellen, Associate Professor of English at Marist, said this generation has definite concerns about algorithms that predict their feelings and interests, even as facial recognition programs, Facebook, and smartwatches observe their every move.
They are also comfortable with evolving notions of gender and sexuality. Said co-author Tom McBride, Professor of English Emeritus at Beloit College, “At least a third of these students prefer to be addressed with gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them,’ and they are about as quick to judge sexual orientation as their folks were to question pot smoking.”
In terms of demographics, co-author and sociologist Charles Westerberg notes, “With half of this generation composed of people of color, they are among the most demographically significant cohorts in American history. American politics today is hard to comprehend without taking account of this major trend since, within a year, their generation will represent 25% of the U.S. population.”
“The Mindset List helps put into context the growing interest high school and college students have in social issues,” noted Shaffer. “We’re seeing a more engaged, more deeply involved student body on campus.”
The Marist Mindset List is created by Ron Nief, Director Emeritus of Public Affairs at Beloit College, along with educators McBride and Westerberg, Shaffer, and Zurhellen. Additional items on the list, as well as commentaries and guides, can be found at www.marist.edu/mindset-list and www.themindsetlist.com.
THE MARIST COLLEGE MINDSET LIST FOR THE ENTERING COLLEGE CLASS OF 2023
Born in 2001 the incoming class of college students never shared the earth with Hosea Williams, Gail Fisher, Gwendolyn Brooks, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Sir Alec Guiness, Hedy Lamarr, A.E. van Vogt, Charles M. Schulz, Tito Puente, Walter Matthau, L. Sprague de Camp, and Jason Robards, all of whom died in the year 2000. Deaths in 2001 included Aaliyah, Rufus Thomas, Douglas Adams, Perry Como, Ray Walston, Morton Downey Jr., John Lee Hooker, Jack Lemmon, Chet Atkins, Troy Donahue, Joey Ramone, George Harrison, Timothy McVeigh, or Ken Kesey, . Among their classmates could be Billie Eilish, Sasha Obama, or Duane “The Rock” Johnson’s daughter Simone.
1. Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is an historical event.
2. Thumb, jump, and USB flash drives have always pushed floppy disks further into history.
3. The primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures.
4. The nation’s mantra has always been: “If you see something, say something.”
5. The Tech Big Four–Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google — are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents.
6. Their smart pens may write and record faster than they can think.
7. Nearly half of their generation is composed of people of color.
8. When they pulled themselves up off the floor for the first time, they may have been hanging onto the folks’ brand-new Xbox.
9. There have always been indecisive quadrennial debates regarding the future of the Electoral College.
10. Oklahoma City has always had a national memorial at its center.
11. Self-contained, battery-powered artificial hearts have always been ticking away.
12. 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.
13. They are as non-judgmental about sexual orientation as their parents were about smoking pot.
14. They have outlived iTunes.
15. Heinous, sexually-based offenses have always been investigated by the Special Victims Unit on Law and Order.
16. The Mars Odyssey has always been checking out the water supply for their future visits to Mars.
17. Snapchat has become their social media app of choice, thus relieving them of the dilemma of whether or not to friend Mom.
18. In an unprecedented move, European nations via NATO have always helped to defend the U.S. militarily.
19. They may well not have a younger sibling, as the birth rate in the U.S. has been dropping since they were in grammar school.
20. PayPal has always been an online option for purchasers.
21. They have witnessed two African-American Secretaries of State, the election of a black President, Disney’s first black Princess, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
22. As they crawled on the floor, TV headlines began crawling at the bottom of the TV screen.
23. “Pink slime” has always been a food additive.
24. With flyovers, honor guards, and “God Bless America,” sporting events have always been marked by emphatic patriotism.
25. Only two-thirds of this generation identify as exclusively heterosexual.
26. Segways have always been trying to revolutionize the way people move.
27. YouTube has become the video version of Wikipedia.
28. There has always been an International Criminal Court, and the U.S. has never been a signatory.
29. Newfoundland and Labrador has always been, officially, Newfoundland-and-Labrador.
30. There has always been an American Taliban.
31. By their sophomore year, their generation will constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.
32. Apple iPods have always been nostalgic.
33. They have always been able to fly Jet Blue, but never Ted and Song.
34. Quarterback Troy Aikman has always called the plays live from the press booth.
35. It has always been illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in New York State.
36. Except for when he celebrated Jeopardy’s 35th anniversary, Alex Trebek has never had a moustache.
37. Face recognition technology has always been used at public events
38. Skilled DJs have transitioned into turntablists.
39. The Apple Power Mac Cube has always been in a museum.
40. The year they were born, the top NBA draft pick came directly out of high school for the first time.
41. They have always been concerned about catching the West Nile virus.
42. There has always been a DisneySea in Tokyo.
43. They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do.
44. Most of them will rent, not buy, their textbooks.
45. They have probably all been “gaslighted” or “ghosted.”
46. There have always been “smartwatches.”
47. Their grandparents’ classic comics have evolved into graphic novels.
48. They have grown up with a Patriot Act that has dramatically increased state surveillance to prevent terrorism.
49. Defibrillators have always been so simple to use that they can be installed at home.
50. Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates have never played at Three Rivers Stadium.
51. Congress has always banned human cloning completely and threatened arrest for offenders.
52. At least one of the murderers of the four school girls in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963 has always been in prison.
53. Monica and Chandler have always been married on Friends.
54. Blackboards have never been dumb.
55. A Catholic Pope has always visited a mosque.
56. Cal Ripken, Jr., has always been retired.
57. The U.S. has always been withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
58. Euthanasia has always been legal in the Netherlands.
59. Teams have always been engaged in an Amazing Race around the world.
60. Coke and Pepsi have always been competing in the sports hydration science marketplace.