Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

The 2017 Mindset List

The 2017 Beloit College Mindset List was released today, and it is worth a read, as always.  Go ahead and take a look now if you haven’t already.

I was already in college when the first Mindset List was released for the class of 2002, but I recall my friends and I poring over it (found forwarded on Elm, printed out in a computer lab because none of us had Internet or printers in our dorm rooms…), feeling quite wise, mature, and informed.  “Oh these children don’t remember the Reagan assassination attempt?  What a life of luxury they’ve led, always having a remote controlled TV…”  Aside from the novelty and eye rolling though, the list is generally useful for those of us who work with teens.

Two things in particular jumped out at me in reading this list.

There seems to be a tone of political cynicism that I don’t recall in previous lists.

17. Threatening to shut down the government during Federal budget negotiations has always been an anticipated tactic.  

20. The Pentagon and Congress have always been shocked, absolutely shocked, by reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military.

35. Congress has always been burdened by the requirement that they comply with the anti-discrimination and safety laws they passed for everybody else to follow.

Whether or not the cynicism is really representative of the current older teen cohort, it is out there in popular media and it’s worth noting that this is the environment in which they have come of age.

Also, the pervasiveness of technology over other cultural issues seems especially pronounced.  These are only a handful that reference digital tech in some way:

8. Having a chat has seldom involved talking. 

10. They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay. 

12. Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger. 

13. PayPal has replaced a pen pal as a best friend on line. 

14. Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car. 

16. A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.

With regards to technology, well, it’s everywhere, right?  It’s important to note that for those folks who work with teens and young adults, that we’re now talking about people who came of age always having access to these tools and toys.  Digital natives, amirite?  It did make me wonder though, at the junction of being informed or shaped by technology, and simply using it as a tool.  When will the tech changes be so ingrained and pervasive that they stop showing up on the list?

What I found most helpful about this list was not the list itself, it was the preface.  Today’s incoming freshmen are dealing with economic issues that are perhaps more pronounced than those who entered college a few years ago.  Health care and insurance, college costs and debt and how they inform college major and career choices – these are the things I would like to know more about, the issues that have a lot more bearing on the actual mindset of teens than when YAHOO! came into existence.

Additionally, we’re coming to the end of an era in which these teens and young adults have a meaningful recollection of the September 11, 2001 attacks or recall our entry into the war in Afghanistan.  For as long as most of these teens can meaningfully remember, our country has been at war.  I would’ve liked to see some reflection on that as well, though I imagine past lists must have referenced it and I understand the List’s need for novelty each year.

Do you use the Mindset List in informing your work with teens?  Share your thoughts in the comments!



  1. That's an interesting concept, I quite like that list. When I'm signing up new kids at the library I always judge their birthdate as pre 9/11 or post 9/11 and it always jolts me for a sec that there's kids coming in that don't remember seeing that footage on the news. That event has changed so many things, even in Australia, and there's so much ongoing events as a result of it, and yet these kids don't know what it's about.

    But I suppose many other generations will have a similar thing to say about it. I remember the news when Diana died, but I also remember it not meaning a thing to me.

  2. I don't think I'd ever heard of a Mindset List so I went to check it out. It's pretty neat to read through. I wonder if we do something similar in Canada?

    I agree though, it would have been interesting to have more to do with the economy, health care, college , etc. Pop culture stuff is neat and DOES influence youth but what about the hard hitting issues?

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