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The Story of the Mindset List

In the mid-1990s, the dawning internet was prompting all sorts of creative responses. One popular use was the creation of lists, and a frequent topic for those lists was how unaware 18 year-olds were. Those lists generally suggested that the compilers knew much more when they graduated from high school than these kids do. 

Two colleagues at Wisconsin’s Beloit College—Professor of English Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief—came up with a fairer and more nuanced look at these new first-year college-aged students. After all, it was these students’ life experiences—what had always or never been true for their generation—that shaped their world view. And they were about to engage in a great broadening of their horizons as they entered college. 

They engaged colleagues in an informal campus exchange of these ideas documenting the worldview of these 18 year-olds. They hardly imagined that, within a year, the list would take on a life of its own with coverage in the national media and invitations to share their ideas around the country. The Mindset List was born.

For more than two decades the Mindset List, released each year in August as students return to campus, has been anxiously anticipated. A popular “sermon-starter” among other things, The Mindset List was declared by Time Magazine as “part of the American Lexicon.” Educators from New Zealand to Mumbai have asked the editors to assist them in creating specialized lists, and Fidel Castro once criticized the List’s authors in an editorial. Organizations, ranging from all branches of the military to Neiman Marcus and the American Marketing Association, have used it, reminding their audiences to be wary of “hardening of the references”—a term the authors used on national television in an interview with Lester Holt.  

Three books have been produced that are used in numerous educational settings and the creators have spoken to groups ranging from NASA and the NCAA to gatherings of educators, librarians, health professionals and investment counselors. In recent years, as the editors retired from active academic life, they have been joined by Beloit College Professor of Sociology Charles Westerberg who offers a frontline connection with the classroom.

In 2018, the Mindset list found a new home in New York’s Hudson River Valley at the Marist College School of Liberal Arts, adding a new group of colleagues. There it will not only retain its spirit but will exist on a larger scale because of the resources Marist can leverage. This August will mark a new chapter for the list as it is released for the 22nd time, in New York City as The Marist Mindset List.

Timeline of the Mindset List

Jul 31, 1998

First Mindset List for the college class of 2002 is released.

Read the list

Nov 04, 2007

The New York Times article on the Mindset List, "Yes, You Are Old."

Read the article

Jul 01, 2011

The Mindset List of American History is published.

See the book

Jul 29, 2016

The Millennial Promise: 40 Tips from the Mindset List published.

See the book

Oct 25, 2018

The Mindset List moves to Marist.

Read the article

Aug 21, 2019

The first Marist Mindset List is released.

Read the list

Sep 09, 2020

The Mindset List for the Class of 2024 is released.

Read the list

Sep 07, 2021

The Mindset List for the Class of 2025 is released.

Read the List

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in contacting the Marist Mindset List. This form is for general questions about the list and for scheduling speaking engagements. Media queries should be directed to Julia Fishman, Director of Media Relations, julia.fishman@marist.edu; (845) 575-3430.
Marist Mindset List: Contact Us
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