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 they did during the previous two decades.

As they contemplated going to college, some of them found for-profit universities tempting, despite warnings about ruinous debt deals. They enter the annals of higher learning with admonitions from some economists that student debt may be the next “under water” crisis to befall the American economy. A significant percentage of them will need to take a semester or three off and find work in order to continue paying tuition bills. There is more riding on choosing a major that will pay a good salary than ever before. Even students at elite colleges, it’s alleged, are more concerned with fast-tracking themselves in the economy than in becoming reflective human beings. And yet they must continue to wonder how they find a career that cannot be replaced by a high-tech algorithm, or by an information worker in Asia who will do the same job for much less pay.

Still, many of them are optimistic. Despite the challenges of globalization and the new economy, and the aftershocks of the Great Recession, they are oft sure that with high tech innovation and a bright idea, they can still do very well indeed. 

Here are 35 items that will track where the economy has been during their eighteen years and what economic mindsets they are taking into the future.



  1. As offspring of the Great Recession they worry much more about money than about love.

  2. Faddish fashions from Merry-Go-Round, electronic fantasies from Incredible Universe, and junk from Drexel    Burnham Lambert have never been a temptation in their lifetimes.

3. They have seen the Dow swing over 10,000 points during the last five years, but for some reason they just don’t trust  the stock market!

4. Shaq has always been a brand.

5. Times Square has never been a sleazy site of porn shops but a glittering jewel in an emerging entertainment economy.

6. Increasingly, they would far rather have the latest tablet than a new car—why drive when you can get there by Skype?

7. The Earned Income Tax Credit has always been trying to “end welfare as we know it.”

8, Wanting to pay as they go, there’s a 63% chance they don’t have a credit card.

9. During their lifetimes the price of a first-class stamp has risen 65%, but not to worry: they rarely write letters or pay bills with postage.

10. Asian Tigers have always been fast-growth countries, not dangerous if endangered felines.

11. As they were learning to crawl, 2% GDP growth for a quarter was seen as alarmingly low.

12. When they think “union,” they mostly conjure up public sector unions.

13. IBM, Harley, Coors, Microsoft, and Disney have always extended medical benefits to same-sex couples.

14. As they were newborns relishing their applesauce, all the experts agreed that the once great American company Apple would never see glory days again.

15. While they were busy getting born, competition in “death  services”—corporate mergers of funeral homes—was never keener.

16. They’ve grown up with female action figures battling it out with the male figures at Toys R Us.

17. They’ve got a forty percent chance, at best, of graduating from college in four years, but the good news is they’ve got a seventy percent chance to graduate in six.

18. Starbucks has always been international and has never lived on coffee alone but also on Frappuccino.

 19. Rent” is not something you pay every month but the gold standard for high-profit Broadway shows with minimal overhead.

20. Two things they don’t expect when they get a job: to stay with the same company for long or to have a lot of face-to-face conversations at work.

21. As they entered the brave new world, Netscape was the undisputed king of browsers.

22. To them, Yellow Pages have never been yellow or contained in a book.

23. Anheuser-Busch has always been out of the snack food business.

24. For most of their lives Alan Greenspan has undoubtedly been a genius.

25. HP has always been making home PCs.

26. They can figure out the correct change in their heads—it just takes them a little longer than previous generations, who had to do it much more often.

27. They’ve grown up in a world largely devoid of payphones, glass pop bottles, and bobby pins.

28. Since Mark Zuckerberg is a Millennial icon, they hope that, by stopping on the Information Highway with a great innovation, they too will become billionaires.

29. Financiers in Hong Kong have always been especially anxious, keeping a little real estate abroad.

30. Kmart and Target have always been moving in opposite directions.

31. They would rather share a ride, a flat, or a computer than suffer the exclusivity that comes with total ownership.

32. Having spent their teen-age years hearing constantly about income inequality, they might conclude that a rising tide lifts all yachts.

33. They have shaped their economic ideas with the aid of their favorite commentators, especially on The Daily Show.

34. Experts have long been predicting that Russia would develop—one of these days–into a “normal” capitalist country.

35. The Berlin Wall between investment and commercial banks (to Wall St. a Depression-era relic) has always been crumbling.


Tom McBride and Ron Nief are creators of the annual Beloit College Mindset List® and co-authors of The Mindset Lists of American History (Wiley and Sons, 2011), and The Mindset List of the Obscure (Sourcebooks, 2014).

Check out their financial literacy guide to The Mindset Lists of American History (From IOUs to ATMs) .





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