A Guide to the Beloit College Mindset List
Class of 2019
Many teachers and counselors alike have used the Mindset List over the years, sometimes as the basis for one-on-one chats, and at other times for class discussions and even personal essays. This year’s List is no different. The annual Lists are wonderful icebreakers for counselors and professors and students. They stimulate intergenerational conversations. Here are some suggestions about this year’s List.
- This year’s entering class has never licked a postage stamp, and for them electronic mail has always been the “new formal” (as opposed to texting and Instagram and Facebook and Twitter). Ask your students if they agree that they are more formal and grammatically careful on email than in other forms of digital communication and if so, why. You might also share with them your own pre-digital communications experiences: waiting for the postman, writing letters in cursive, breaking up with significant others by letter rather than by tweet.
- Ask them if they agree with the List’s assertion that “no means no” is now becoming, by campus consensus, “only yes means yes.” Do they see this change as a necessary protection against sexual abuse or as an ill-advised attempt to regulate a spontaneous, private act of passion?
- Draw them out about the use of digital technology in the learning process. Do they see the advent of instant communication and endlessly accessible information as more a convenience, an entertainment, or a revolution in education?
- Ask them to reflect on the ubiquity of non-face-to-face conversations. Do they believe the frequency of more superficial and casual contacts via digital technology is replacing the much more rare, but arguably richer, contacts of long, face-to-face chats?
- Princess Diana, for them, has always been dead, and they are the first class for whom that is true. Ask them what they know about Diana and whether or not they realize why she was such an internationally prominent icon. Ask them if they have any regrets about having “missed” her—and what other figures of history, recent or otherwise, they wished they’d been alive for?
- The List this year says that they have always treated Wi-Fi as an “entitlement.” Ask them if they generally think they are an entitled, or lucky, generation. Ask them what they think the older generation owes them—and what mistakes of the older generation they believe their generation is uniquely poised to correct or not repeat.
- Tell them what items on this year’s List you yourself, as an older person, found most astonishing—and why. Get their reactions.
- Ask them to summarize the composite portrait of their generation drawn, implicitly, by this year’s List and whether or not they think it’s accurate.
- This year’s List says that “first achievements” by women will only impress their parents. Do they agree with this statement? Do they think the growing, important role of women is a cause for celebration, or just ho-hum boredom (now that it’s so common), or a deception because it disguises how far women have to go in order to be fully equal?
- This year’s List has a brief epilogue: ten examples of Millennial jargon that the older generation will find baffling. Ask your students if they think these are good examples, or what other examples would have been better, and why.
These are suggested topics only. You may well invent your own. Creative uses of each year’s Mindset List are extremely welcome and beneficial. These topics, again, can be used as subjects for chats, discussions, or essays (the latter can of course be exchanged in class and then discussed openly).
We welcome your own expert comments. Tell us what you did, what we got right, and what we got wrong. Good Luck!