The Mindset List

Welcome to the Beloit College Mindset List for this year’s entering college class of 2020

We have had the NOW generation…get ready for the RIGHT NOW generation, entering college this fall. This fall’s entering college students, the class of 2020, were born in 1998 and cannot remember a time when they had to wait for anything. They also can’t recall a time when the United States was not at war, or when someone named Bush or Clinton was not running for office.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students about to enter college.

In their lifetimes they have always had eBay and iMacs, and India and Pakistan have always had the bomb. The Sopranos and SpongeBob SquarePants have always been part of popular culture, Gretzky and Elway have always been retired, and Vladimir Putin has always been in charge in the Kremlin.

And although they think of themselves as a powerful generation—Sanders voters, consumers—they are faced with the prospect of student loan debt and of robots and foreigners taking their jobs making them feel anxious and weak. “They know that they’re going to have to wait for that first breakthrough job and getting their school loans paid off.” said Tom McBride, one of the List’s authors. “They’re an impatient generation learning how to be patient.”

The Beloit College Mindset List is created by Ron Nief, Director Emeritus of Beloit College Public Affairs; Tom McBride, Professor Emeritus of English; and Charles Westerberg, Brannon-Ballard Professor of Sociology. Additional items on the list as well as commentaries and guides are found on this site and at Regular updates and discussions are on Facebook and Twitter.

More about this List

About the Authors

Tom McBride and Ron Nief are co-authors of numerous articles and books, They speak around the country each year to business, library, history, and education groups. Charles Westerberg joined the Mindset List authors beginning with the Class of 2020 List, released in August 2016.

Tom McBride is professor of English emeritus at Beloit College. A graduate of Baylor University and the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign, he teaches Milton, Shakespeare, and critical theory for more than 40 years. He was a co-founder of the program in Rhetoric and Discourse in the English department and for many years headed the college’s First-Year Initiatives seminar program. He has published critical essays and creative non-fiction in journals as diverse as Texas Studies in Language and Literature, The Baker Street Journal, and Two Cities, and on and open He has been a commentator on language for Wisconsin Public Radio and his commentaries are heard on Northern Illinois Public Radio.

Ron Nief is director of public affairs emeritus at Beloit College. He has been communicating the work of higher education for more than four decades, starting with his alma mater, Boston College in the 1960s and including Brandeis and Clark universities, and Middlebury College. He has written for numerous publications including The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Christian Science Monitor. The recipient of a Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America, he also received a Distinguished Service Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He created the Mindset List in 1998.

Charles Westerberg is the Brannon-Ballard Professor of Sociology at College, as well as Associate Dean of the College and Director of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center. Charles Westerberg graduated from Beloit College in 1994 with majors in Sociology and Government. He went on to get his M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2001) in Sociology from the University of Missouri in Columbia. His scholarly work has been split between criminological themes, such as the changing nature of punishment, and new approaches to pedagogy in undergraduate education. He joined the Beloit College faculty in the spring of 2000.

Mindset List
Left to right, Tom McBride, Charles Westerberg and Ron Nief.


For information, please contact:

Ron Nief

Tom McBride

Charles Westerberg

Share your thoughts at