By Hannah Legacy
That time of year has come again: students have returned to campus. All around campus, you can see the “deer-in-the-headlights” look on the freshmen’s faces, the friendly reunions of the upperclassmen and an atmosphere unlike any other.
But, what makes this year unique? What makes this year’s freshmen different from freshmen, let’s say, 45 years ago? After the many college visits, orientations, welcome days and the first week of classes, the answer may have shown itself.
First, let’s look at today’s freshmen. Thanks to Beloit College’s “Mindset List for the Class of 2021,” we have quite the list of statistics regarding them. The first notable thing that’s special about the class of 2021 is that, “They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials.” So, the class of 2021 is the last of the millennials, the generation that started around 1978. That’s a large step into the future.
Another key difference is that freshmen are the first to use smart phones as “a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, and research library.” The freshmen of today use their phones for just about everything.
Also, the ratio of men to women is much more even than in the past. The Princeton Review has found that, at St. Bonaventure, men make up 51% and women make up 49% of the campus population.
Lastly, the freshmen of today, have a completely different mindset than that of the past. According to Beloit, “In college, they will often think of themselves as consumers, who’ve borrowed a lot of money to be there”.
Now, let’s go back to the year 1972. The time when Anne Lee, a professor of journalism and mass communication and the assistant director of the Oxford Program, was a freshman at Bonaventure. What made her class different from the class of 2021? Lee’s class was the last of the Baby Boomers, whereas the freshmen are the last of the Millennials.
Lee was a freshman in 1972, 45 years ago, and graduated in 1976. At that point in time, she said, smart phones and many modern conveniences, such as the internet, and computers were not available. However, on campus, you could buy cable, even though it wasn’t yet used in the common household.
Without the conveniences of today, the class of 1976 relied on typewriters instead of smartphones, laptops or desktops. Lee said “a lot of sharing was going on”, since “you couldn’t rent typewriters.” Also, “you used key punch cards” to register for classes, instead of using the online resources that we have today.
Additionally, back in 1972, the ratio of men to women was much more unbalanced than it is today. Lee said there were, approximately 400 males and 100 females in her class, creating an uneven ratio of 4 to 1. Finally, the class of 1976 was more “focused on what to do while in college”, where, according to Beloit, the class of 2021 is more focused on finances and what they’re going to do after graduation.
Overall, the class of 2021 is different and unique, as each class is. Putting categories and statistics on them truly does not do justice. Just by seeing these few examples, we can uncover a plethora of advances and innovations that have been made since 1972. And the class of 2021 is a true testament to the fact that, as we further approach the future, this pattern will only continue forward.