Annual Mindset List (2015)

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Monday, August 24, 2015

Annual Mindset List (2015)

It’s that time of year again. Students returning to colleges across the nation, including a new freshman class. Which means the annual college freshman mindset list from Beloit College; always a cultural cornucopia full of illumination.

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


Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997. 

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:

Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.

Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible.” 

They have never licked a postage stamp.

Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.

Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.

They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement. 

The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”

They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.

Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.

The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.

Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online. 

The Lion King has always been on Broadway.

At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.

First Responders have always been heroes.

Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

The Atlanta Braves have always played at Turner Field.

The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.


James Emery White


Click here to read the Beloit College Mindset List for 2019.

Editor’s Note

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, which 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, 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.