What is the Cultural Profile for the Class of 2017?


Every year, Beloit College produces the College Mindset List, which documents cultural indicators for the incoming freshman class. The class of 2017, born in 1995, like many previous generations, has seen stunning developments in technology in their lifetime — the use of “smart” technology is now pervasive and commonplace in their lives. Beloit says that “The use of smart phones in class may indicate they are reading the assignment they should have read last night, or they may be recording every minute of their college experience…or they may be texting the person next to them.”

They are more likely to amass student debt than their parents were and most don’t expect to graduate in four years. Most will at some point take advantage of online learning at a distant university.

Beloit also notes the political clout of their generation:

[They] realize eventually that they will soon be in power. After all, by the time they hit their thirties, four out of ten voters will be of their generation. Whatever their employers may think of them, politicians will be paying close attention.

Here are some highlights from the list:


  • As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.

  • As their parents held them as infants, they may have wondered whether it was the baby or Windows 95 that had them more excited

  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.

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

  • Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.

  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.

  • They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.

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

Law and Government:

  • They have known only two presidents.

  • The U.S. has always been trying to figure out which side to back in Middle East conflicts.

  • Spray paint has never been legally sold in Chicago.

  • Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.

  • The U.S. has always imposed economic sanctions against Iran.

  • Smokers in California have always been searching for their special areas, which have been harder to find each year.

  • Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.


  • Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.

  • Gaga has never been baby talk.

  • Captain Janeway has always taken the USS Voyager where no woman or man has ever gone before.

  • Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.

  • Their parents have always bemoaned the passing of precocious little Calvin and sarcastic stuffy Hobbes.

  • Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.

  • They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena.