From the Mindset List


by Tom McBride

THE SPIRITUAL MILLENNIALS Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities, February 1, 2015, Washington, DC Tom McBride Generation gaps are tricky, and their subtlety ranges from the trivial to the profound. At the level of the silly is the mother who tells her fifteen year-old daughter that she will put her “John Hancock” on a school permissions slip, only to have her daughter respond: “Mother, stop talking dirty at your age.” More deeply, the lessons learned by one generation seem irrelevant to the next, as illustrated by how the privation and patriotism of the Greatest Generation made no sense to the far more prosperous Baby Boomers who donned their beads and grew their hair and broke store windows in order to protest   Read on »


by Tom McBride

Selma and American Amnesia By Ron Nief  The story is circulating that when many potential viewers of the new film about Martin Luther King Jr. heard it was called Selma and produced by Oprah Winfrey, they assumed it was a story about a woman and her struggles growing up in the South. As authors of the annual Mindset List that looks at the world through the eyes and experiences of 18 year old high school graduates, we call situations like this “Mindset Moments.” They are the occasions when a comment by an adult to a young person, or sometimes vice versa, is greeted with a blank stare. They are generally inconsequential and even funny—calling a young piano student a “potential   Read on »

Our Annual PARENTS’ ADVISORY (This Year: Class of 2037)

by Tom McBride

Our Parents’ Advisory for the Class of 2037  The annual watch is on, starting at midnight. For some, the real New Year’s fireworks will come with the arrival of the first baby born in 2015. News reports will cover the blessed events around the world. But amidst all the celebrating, parents and grandparents might want to think ahead, because this child, born in 2015, will turn 18 in 2033,  graduate from high school, and head off into the next chapter of his or her life. There will be a lot of questions that need answering about that time. To help in preparing for the future, the authors of the Beloit College Mindset List, which looks at the worldview of students   Read on »

The FINANCIAL Mindset List®: Class of 2018

by Tom McBride

From the creators of THE MINDSET LIST®: The FINANCIAL Mindset List® For the Class of 2018 By Tom McBride and Ron Nief Today’s entering college students have spent most of their teenage years in a recession that has left employment, homes, educations,  friends, and relatives uncertain about the future.   Members of this year’s entering college class were born in 1996. If they are lucky and work hard they will graduate in four years with the class of 2018. In order to maintain the purchasing power of the dollar the year they were born, they will need to come up with an additional fifty-two cents. Since they were born, tuition and fees at public universities have gone up more than   Read on »

The Mindset List®–of AMERICAN SPORTS–for the Class of 2018

by Tom McBride

The Mindset List®–of AMERICAN SPORTS–for the Class of 2018 Warning to Coaches: If you are out to inspire your young charges by references to Joe Montana or Steffi Graf, be prepared for the blank stares you will get in response. One of the most common reactions we get to our annual Mindset List, which examines the world of 18 year-old entering college students, is “Are you guys trying to make me feel old?” Yes, eighteen years happens fast and brings lots of change. This is particularly true in sports. Does it seem just yesterday that the Braves won the World Series and the Cowboys won the Super Bowl? Can you believe that when most of today’s eighteen year olds were   Read on »

MANDELA 12, MADONNA O: Portrait of a College Class–& Their Parents

by Tom McBride

Mandela 12, Madonna 0 Tom McBride and Ron Nief A quarter of a century ago the author Bill Bryson found himself back in his home state after two decades abroad, and—quite by accident—on the campus of University of Iowa. While there, he got quite a shock. An old friend he was visiting in Iowa City explained to Bryson that these kids he was encountering around town, who to them looked to be about 14, were no longer “smoking dope” but were actually—wonder of wonders—“trying to get an education…so that they could become insurance salesmen and computer programmers…and make a lot of money so they can buy more penny loafers and Madonna albums.” Bryson, who reported all this in The Lost   Read on »


by Tom McBride

Author contacts: Ron Nief (608-770-2625) Tom McBride (608-312-9508) Beloit College releases the Mindset List for this year’s entering class of first-year students, the Class of 2018 Beloit, Wis. — When the Class of 2018 arrives on campuses in the coming weeks, they will come with a view of the world quite distinct from their mentors.  Most born in 1996, they have always had The Daily Show to set them straight, always been able to secure immediate approval and endorsement for their ideas through “likes” on their Facebook pages, and have rarely heard the term “bi-partisan agreement.” Each August since 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones and experiences that   Read on »


by Tom McBride

Learn Swahili and Slow Down Time! By Aarti Chawla and Tom McBride Can we control the passage of time? No—but, once we understand how time “feels,” we can influence how we experience it. Among the millions of people who respond each year to the Beloit College Mindset List, many report shock in learning that various events, which seemed to happen just yesterday, actually occurred nearly twenty years ago. When the co-creators of the List state that for an entering college class “Carl Sagan has always been dead,” older respondents say the death of Sagan (or Kurt Cobain or Princess Diana) seems to have happened last month, not two decades ago. A well-known factoid is that time speeds up for people   Read on »

IT DIDN’T START WITH SHADES OF GREY: The Mindset List® of American Sex

by Tom McBride

From one of our new research projects: MOM AND DAD HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN A HIGH-TECH ARMS RACE ABOUT ADULTERY. –from The Mindset List® of American Sex, Class of 2036, born 2014  “CATE” is an acronym for “Call and Text Eraser,” an app that one can install on his or her smart phone in order to hide messages, including those with sexual content. If you purchase CATE, you will find that it can prevent designated persons from retrieving your messages, and it can enable you to get rid of certain messages simply by shaking your phone. It’s a lot like shaking dirt out. This means that you can cheat on your significant other or spouse without being caught doing the   Read on »

What started as a witty way of saying…

to faculty colleagues “watch your references,” has turned into a globally reported and utilized guide to the intelligent. It is requested by thousands of readers, reprinted in hundreds of print and electronic publications, and used for a wide variety of purposes. The Mindset Lists of American History immediately caught the imagination of the public, and in the ensuing years, has drawn responses from around the world. The site contains all of the lists and news about the list’s development. There are also opportunities to provide feedback and to get information on authors Ron Nief and Tom McBride. Read more about The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think is Normal, on our book page. See the Mindset List for the Class of 2017»
Tom McBride and Ron Nief

Mindset List creators Ron Nief (left) and Tom McBride.

 About the Authors

Ron Nief  is emeritus director of public affairs at Beloit College, stepping down in 2009 after 14 years. 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…. Read more »Tom McBride is a professor of English and Keefer Professor of the Humanities at Beloit College. A graduate of Baylor University and the University of Illinois Urbana/Champaign, he teaches Milton, Shakespeare, and critical theory and has team-taught many interdisciplinary courses…. Read more »

“McBride and Nief should be hailed America’s cultural timekeepers.” —Jim Simon, Seattle Times