Dr. James Emery White

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Annual Freshman Mindset List

It’s that time of year again. Students are returning to colleges across the nation, including a new freshman class. Which means it’s time for the annual college freshman Mindset List from Beloit College; always a cultural eye-opener in terms of changing times. Their headline? “We have had the NOW generation… get ready for the RIGHT NOW generation… [they] cannot remember a time when they had to wait for anything.”

In their lifetimes they have always had eBay and iMacs, and India and Pakistan have always had the bomb. The Sopranos and SpongeBob SquarePants have always been part of popular culture, Gretzky and Elway have always been retired, and Vladimir Putin has always been in charge in the Kremlin.

And although they think of themselves as a powerful generation — Sanders’ voters, consumers — they are faced with the prospect of student loan debt, and of robots and foreigners taking their jobs making them feel anxious and weak. “They know that they’re going to have to wait for that first breakthrough job and getting their school loans paid off,” said Tom McBride, one of the List’s authors. “They’re an impatient generation learning how to be patient.” 

I’ve picked a few of my favorites from their 60-point list.


Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1998.

Since they arrived on this planet:

There has always been a digital swap meet called eBay.

West Nile has always been a virus found in the U.S.

The Sandy Hook tragedy is their Columbine.

Cloning has always been a mundane laboratory procedure.

The United States has always been at war.

Serena Williams has always been winning Grand Slam singles titles.

They have never had to watch or listen to programs at a scheduled time.

Each year they’ve been alive the U.S. population has grown by more than one million Latinos.

If you want to reach them, you’d better send a text—emails are oft ignored.

They disagree with their parents as to which was the “first” Star Wars episode.

Books have always been read to you on audible.com.

Bluetooth has always been keeping us wireless and synchronized.

A Bush and a Clinton have always been campaigning for something big.

Snowboarding has always been an Olympic sport.

While chads were hanging in Florida, they were potty training in all 50 states.

DreamWorks has always been making animated creatures heroic and loveable.

Airline tickets have always been purchased online.

James Emery White



“The Beloit College Mindset List for the class of 2020,” read online

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite


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