Wanna Feel Old? Let Me Introduce You to the Class of 2023

For the past 21 years, Beloit Collge has created the annual Mindset List, a compilation of what has always and never been true for new college freshmen. This year, the list has been taken over by Marist College.

Here is some information from the Mindset List for the class of 2023:

Variously known as Gen Z, Gen I, Gen Tech, and “The Plurals,” is the first class born in the 21st century. they have lived in a world in which shedding shoes at airport security; capturing news from crawling headlines on the TV screen; flying Jet Blue; and recognizing that blackboards, pens, and watches are sometimes smarter than we are have all been routine occurrences.

They are also comfortable with evolving notions of gender and sexuality. Said co-author Tom McBride, Professor of English Emeritus at Beloit College, “At least a third of these students prefer to be addressed with gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them,’ and they are about as quick to judge sexual orientation as their folks were to question pot smoking.”

In terms of demographics, co-author and sociologist Charles Westerberg notes, “With half of this generation composed of people of color, they are among the most demographically significant cohorts in American history. American politics today is hard to comprehend without taking account of this major trend since, within a year, their generation will represent 25% of the U.S. population.”

Here is the official list, with my random comments in parentheses):


Born in 2001 the incoming class of college students never shared the earth with Joey Ramone, George Harrison, Timothy McVeigh, or Ken Kesey.

Among their classmates could be Billie Eilish, Sasha Obama, or Duane “The Rock” Johnson’s daughter Simone.

  1. Like Pearl Harbor for their grandparents, and the Kennedy assassination for their parents, 9/11 is a historical event.
  2. Thumb, jump, and USB flash drives have always pushed floppy disks further into history.
  3. The primary use of a phone has always been to take pictures. (if that is true, perhaps it should no longer be called a phone)
  4. The nation’s mantra has always been: “If you see something, say something.” (quite relevant this week with the arrest of several potential mass shooters)
  5. The Tech Big Four–Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google — are to them what the Big Three automakers were to their grandparents. (I can’t imagine the Big Three were ever as cool as the Tech Big Four, or such an integral part of their lives).
  6. Their smartpens may write and record faster than they can think.
  7. Nearly half of their generation is composed of people of color.
  8. When they pulled themselves up off the floor for the first time, they may have been hanging onto the folks’ brand-new Xbox.
  9. There have always been indecisive quadrennial debates regarding the future of the Electoral College. (maybe it’s time something is done about the Electoral Collge)
  10. Oklahoma City has always had a national memorial at its center.
  11. Self-contained, battery-powered artificial hearts have always been ticking away.
  12. Because of Richard Reid’s explosive footwear at 30,000 feet, passengers have always had to take off their shoes to slide through security on the ground.
  13. They are as non-judgmental about sexual orientation as their parents were about smoking pot.
  14. They have outlived iTunes. (RIP, iTunes)
  15. Heinous, sexually-based offenses have always been investigated by the Special Victims Unit on Law and Order.
  16. The Mars Odyssey has always been checking out the water supply for their future visits to Mars.
  17. Snapchat has become their social media app of choice, thus relieving them of the dilemma of whether or not to friend Mom. (Personally not a fan of Snapchat; Twitter, oh yea.)
  18. In an unprecedented move, European nations via NATO have always helped to defend the U.S. militarily. (hmmm. how much longer will this continue?)
  19. They may well not have a younger sibling, as the birth rate in the U.S. has been dropping since they were in grammar school.
  20. PayPal has always been an online option for purchasers.
  21. They have witnessed two African-American Secretaries of State, the election of a black President, Disney’s first black Princess, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. (let’s hope the trend continues)
  22. As they crawled on the floor, TV headlines began crawling at the bottom of the TV screen.
  23. “Pink slime” has always been a food additive.
  24. With flyovers, honor guards, and “God Bless America,” sporting events have always been marked by emphatic patriotism. (RIP, God Bless America)
  25. Only two-thirds of this generation identify as exclusively heterosexual.
  26. Segways have always been trying to revolutionize the way people move.
  27. YouTube has become the video version of Wikipedia. (each one is great)
  28. There has always been an International Criminal Court, and the U.S. has never been a signatory. (embarrassed to admit, I’m not really sure what this means)
  29. Newfoundland and Labrador have always been, officially, Newfoundland-and-Labrador. (I did not know this…)
  30. There has always been an American Taliban.
  31. By their sophomore year, their generation will constitute one-quarter of the U.S. population.
  32. Apple iPods have always been nostalgic. (kids these days, no appreciation for what came before them)
  33. They have always been able to fly Jet Blue, but never Ted and Song. (never heard of Ted and Song)
  34. Quarterback Troy Aikman has always called the plays live from the press booth.
  35. It has always been illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in New York State.
  36. Except for when he celebrated Jeopardy’s 35th anniversary, Alex Trebek has never had a moustache.
  37. Face recognition technology has always been used at public events
  38. Skilled DJs have transitioned into turntablists.
  39. The Apple Power Mac Cube has always been in a museum. (seems appropriate)
  40. The year they were born, the top NBA draft pick came directly out of high school for the first time. (had to look up who it was – Kwame Brown; it didn’t work out too well for Mr. Brown…)
  41. They have always been concerned about catching the West Nile virus.
  42. There has always been a DisneySea in Tokyo. (I want to go there!)
  43. They have grown up with Big Data and ubiquitous algorithms that know what they want before they do. (and now data analytics is one of the most popular majors at my college)
  44. Most of them will rent, not buy, their textbooks. (or just like we did, perhaps not bother with a textbook at all)
  45. They have probably all been “gaslighted” or “ghosted.” (kind of fuzzy on these terms)
  46. There have always been “smartwatches.”
  47. Their grandparents’ classic comics have evolved into graphic novels.
  48. They have grown up with a Patriot Act that has dramatically increased state surveillance to prevent terrorism.
  49. Defibrillators have always been so simple to use that they can be installed at home. (yay!)
  50. Pittsburgh’s Steelers and Pirates have never played at Three Rivers Stadium. (saw a World Series game at Three Rivers in 1979)
  51. Congress has always banned human cloning completely and threatened arrest for offenders.
  52. At least one of the murderers of the four schoolgirls in Birmingham, Ala. in 1963 has always been in prison.
  53. Monica and Chandler have always been married on Friends.
  54. Blackboards have never been dumb.
  55. A Catholic Pope has always visited a mosque.
  56. Cal Ripken, Jr., has always been retired. (my all-time favorite professional athlete)
  57. The U.S. has always been withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
  58. Euthanasia has always been legal in the Netherlands.
  59. Teams have always been engaged in an Amazing Race around the world.
  60. Coke and Pepsi have always been competing in the sports hydration science marketplace. (Powerade vs. Gatorade)

So there you have it. Many of you reading this list may have direct experiences with many of the items on this list, like iPods, Oklahoma City, and 9/11, but now they are part of history.

Yes, you are getting older. But don’t despair. The nature of my job enables me to be surrounded by the class of 2023, and if they are representative of their generation, then I am optimistic about the future.

They are bright, eager to make a difference, and committed to service and a more just world.

Who could ask for anything else?

Best wishes to the class of 2023.

*image from Stockton Unified School District

9 thoughts on “Wanna Feel Old? Let Me Introduce You to the Class of 2023

  1. Wow, that was really fun to read. Not only did you make realize how old I was, you made me realize how fast time flies and change is constant. Good Luck Class of 2023..


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