What Are They Thinking? Fun Marketing and PR Insights into the Class of 2016 and Beyond
By Robert J. Geline, President, 144 Media
Every year about this time, something called the “Beloit College Mindset List” appears, often to some great fanfare in the media. It’s a compendium of ideas, attitudes and everyday truths that constitutes a good approximation of the organizing principles and shared understandings of those who are now beginning their undergraduate lives on college and university campuses from Maine to Mailbu, a.k.a. The Class of 2016.
The brainchild of Ron Nief, Emeritus Director of Public Affairs at the school, and Tom McBride, a professor of English and the Humanities, the list was begun 15 years ago as a way to alert professors at Beloit College to avoid outdated references in their lectures and other work with students. Since then, the annual Mindset List has mushroomed into a cottage industry, with a website and a book and an annual audience eager to see what this year’s crop of undergraduates “knows” about the world and how it works.
For anyone of a certain age whose job involves communicating with the freshly matriculating leaders of tomorrow (and their newish-to-the-workplace older brothers and sisters), the Beloit Mindset list is a tool that can provide important audience intelligence to keep a connection with your listeners.
So, what’s in the minds of this year’s crop of entering freshmen as it heads for the groves of academe? Here are some entries from this year’s Beloit College Mindset List that caught my eye:
- Since the Class of 2016 was born, the United States has measured progress by a 2% increase in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
- Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
- For most of the Class of 2016’s lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
- There has always been an NFL team in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles, and the Green Bay Packers have always celebrated a touchdown with the Lambeau Leap.
- Star Wars has always been a film, not a defense strategy.
- Before they purchase an assigned textbook, they will investigate whether it is available for rent or purchase as an e-book.
- They watch television everywhere but on a television
- A significant percentage of the Class of 2016 is entering college with some hearing loss.
For this year’s complete list and backlists that date from 2002 list, go to
Happy reading and remember, when you speak to the younger set, these are folks who, as the 2016 Mindset List notes, are like Simba: They have always had trouble waiting to be King.
Robert Geline is President of 144 Media LLC (www.144media.com), a New York consulting organization that specializes in media coaching, message strategy and presentation performance enhancement.144 Media clients benefit from Bob’s decade of coaching experience and his perspective as an Emmy-winning network journalist and former national newsmagazine correspondent and editor.