Aug 24, 2011

A Different Take on the Mindset List

Many of us are fascinated by the annual Beloit College Mindset List – a quick summary of facts about the incoming first year college student class each year.  Most of us in the education industry have some level of positive anticipation for the list each year, as it keeps us grounded and is a somewhat comical reminder of the audience with which we are advising, communicating, and teaching.  However, there are two additional observations that I have on the list that I wanted to share, just for heuristic purposes.

Thumbs Up:  All educational institutions should take note of the creativity that Beloit College has used in developing and delivering this list.  It is not only a great marketing effort that gets national notice each fall (right when high school seniors are looking at colleges), but it also positions the College as uniquely “in touch” with their audiences via generational research.  Kudos to Beloit for the creativity and imagination.  (My only concern here is that the actual delivery of this list via YouTube this year may suggest that the College is not as in touch with their audiences as they think.)

Thumbs Down:  The list decidedly and historically focuses more on information deficit rather than cultural dexterity.  A quick review of the most recent edition of 75 unique factoids about this year’s entering class of 2015 reveals more about what they don’t know, rather than the unique things that they do know, when compared to those of us more senior to them, generationally speaking.  This might be an important error in omission. 

My concern here is simple.  Sure, there are a lot of suprising things that these students don’t know given their age and experience in life.  But, given the complexities of the world and the social network that they are engaged with everyday, my guess is that there is a lot more that they do know than I did going off to college.  Perhaps another few factoids about the class could be added that reveal a bit more about their cultural, technological, and social agility when compared to prior generations.  That might give the advisor, teacher, and communicator a better way to connect with them.

Kudos to Beloit College for great information each year.  And, perhaps this list can even be more helpful with a few additions and perspectives in the future.  All for now.