It’s not that you’re getting older, it’s just that culture changes so rapidly. At least that’s how the creators of Beloit College’s annual “Mindset List” are spinning this year’s source of angst for faculty and staff who mention iconic figures and events, only to receive blank stares from incoming freshmen.
Beloit College has been doing this for 12 years now, and while the news media have fun with it, there’s a serious side.
The list represents those experiences and observations that have shaped the lives — and formed the mindset — of students starting their college career this fall. That’s important for professors and administrators to know.
It also underscores the dangers of reaching back into your own experiences for examples that may leave your audience unmoved or confused. And that’s essential to know.
“Hardening of the references” is what the Beloit team of Ron Nief and Tom McBride call it when educators forget that people, places and things that are second nature to them are totally unknown or viewed through a different prism by teenagers.
It’s a malady that can also afflict those who write website copy, compose email messages, create promotional brochures, post to blogs or social networks, and communicate in various other ways with prospective students.
So remember, warns Beloit’s Nief, teenagers have never used a card catalog, have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P, and will think of a crazed Jack Nicholson — not the legendary host of the Tonight show — if you ever say, “Hereeee’s Johnny.”
To see this year’s Mindset List, visit:
Read more about our authors. Ray Ulmer, public relations director at TargetX, has been involved in higher education marketing for more than 25 years, including serving as executive director of communications at La Salle University and director of public relations at Drexel University. He has also worked in corporate marketing and advertising.