Marist Mindset List Class of 2024: New Approach to Examining What Defines First-Year College Students

Julia Fishman

Marked by 9/11 and COVID-19, this class is unique in every way.

September 9, 2020—They were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and have entered college during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this year’s incoming group of first-year college students, going to college might even require staying home for remote classes; some may simply be taking a gap year.

While the class of 2024 might be questioning what the future holds, one thing is certain: this group of students is living through an unprecedented start to their college careers and their first 18 years have been bookended by key world events.

It’s especially fitting then that the Marist Mindset List for the class of 2024 is also radically different than the previous iterations of the iconic annual “always/never” list. Moving from Beloit College to Marist, the list went through a transitional phase last year with the founding team from Beloit leading the effort on development with the support of Marist staff and faculty. This year, under the direction of Marist Associate Professor of English and Beloit alumnus Tommy Zurhellen, the list was a collaborative effort with Marist faculty from different disciplines with diverse backgrounds focusing on 10 major areas: arts, commerce, education, ethics, fashion, history and politics, language and literacy, science, sports communication, and technology.

“It was important to me to take the Mindset List in a more substantive direction,” said Zurhellen. “But the COVID pandemic just affirmed that even more. This group of students in particular is living through extraordinary circumstances that deserve examination. And, as last year’s list showed, Generation Z is poised to be a political and cultural force.”

A self-described long-time fan of the Mindset List, Zurhellen conceived of it as a “cultural compass which examines broad areas that can be explored and discussed in meaningful ways.”

Zurhellen’s collaborators were Assistant Professor of Art and Digital Media Joyce Yu-Jean Lee and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Pablo Rivas. The team was assisted by Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Vanessa Lynn, who will be part of the development team next year.

This year’s list examines race relations, fashion in the era of personal protective equipment (PPE), the push and pull between privacy and technology, and much more. It has been pared down to 10 items which each include additional reading in the form of links to sources and, in some cases, living examples of items. All supporting materials are available at Marist Mindset List website

The Marist Mindset List For the Class of 2024

  • Emerging artists and designers in the class of 2024 will explore race relations beyond Black Lives Matter into a deeper understanding of how Whiteness has shaped bias and influence in contemporary American culture.
  • Incoming students will rely on smart devices for shopping, interactive wellness-centered consumer experiences, and engaging in the social good.
  • The class of 2024 may view the idea of “banned books” as an artifact from the past, but the Harry Potter series has been banned somewhere in America for their entire lifetimes, and To Kill a Mockingbird has appeared on the American Library Association (ALA) list of frequently challenged books eight times since 2004, due to perceived concerns over offensive language as well as racial and sexual themes.
  • Incoming students are willing to pay for their privacy. Privacy is now a commodity, and they value privacy for their real relationships.
  • The necessity of personal protection equipment (PPE) will drive fashion trends for the next couple of seasons as young designers in the class of 2024 adapt face masks and other PPE into functional objects of personal expression.
  • For incoming students, the world political stage has always been post-9/11; Vladimir Putin has always been the leader of Russia, Tayyip Erdogan has always been leader of Turkey, and the United States military has always been involved in Afghanistan.
  • The class of 2024 (and, often, their teachers) expect and embrace a richer diversity of voices in the books they read, and their enthusiasm for young adult (YA) literature has led to the emergence of vibrant new voices such as Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Marie Lu (Legend), and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone). In addition, these students are shaping American literary culture like never before, by contributing commentary and adaptations in online forums such as GoodReads, Reddit, Twitter, and fanfic sites.
  • Incoming students are keenly aware of the major threats to the health of our society created by both an international pandemic and the global climate crisis, while at the same time, the value of science in our national dialogue is increasingly questioned.
  • Social distancing provided a captive audience for the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.” This phenomenon allowed the Class of 2024 to see for themselves the evolution of the NBA game in the last twenty years, sparking new debate over how past heroes such as Michael Jordan compare to their favorite players of today like LeBron and Giannis as G.O.A.T.
  • Incoming students have never been more ready to embrace social distance by using technology to fill the distance gap. They are always looking for the newest upgrade.

About the Mindset List

The Mindset List was created at Beloit College in 1998 to reflect the world view of entering first year students. Developed by Ron Nief, Director Emeritus of Public Affairs at Beloit College, and Beloit Professor Tom McBride, who later collaborated with Beloit Professor of Sociology Charles Westerberg, the list has garnered national and international media attention. In 2019, the list moved to Marist and became the Marist Mindset List. Read more here.

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