Our Student “Mindset”

The energy of any campus comes from its student body. This is most clear each fall as we welcome students back to our residence halls, studios, classrooms, and the Kanbar Center.

This fall has been no exception. It has been a pleasure to share picnic dinners, meet on walks across campus, and chat in the lunch lines at Common Thread.

Each year, I learn new things from the incoming class. And each year, our classes seem to get younger. Traditional incoming undergraduate students of the class of 2016 were born in 1994. Their worldview is unique, just as they are.

As educators, it is important that we understand this mindset for, just as we expect to educate our students, we should also be willing to learn from them.

A team at Beloit College in Beloit Wisconsin releases a “Mindset List” each year to help create a brief snapshot of these incoming classes. True, some of their findings can seem a bit silly, or arbitrary, seemingly only noted to shock and surprise those of us born prior to the ‘90s.

At the same time, the mindset list speaks to the modernity of the current student body, and to their needs as students in the 21st century classroom.

Toward that end, I offer a few thoughts as they relate to the incoming students at PhilaU:

For the women of our incoming class, the majority of their lives the important international business of the State Department has been done under female leadership. Similarly, women have always piloted warplanes and space shuttles. I trust the women of PhilaU to lead with similar courage and boundary-breaking successes.

For the design minded, there have always been blue M&Ms, but never brown ones, they have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with digital yearbooks. I expect our design students will continue to elevate, simplify, digitize and beautify our world.

The technophiles in our ranks watch television everywhere but on a TV, will rent or purchase text books as e-books over traditional hard copies, although outdated icons with images of floppy discs for “save,” a telephone for “phone” and snail-mail envelopes for “mail” still oddly populate their smart phone screens. Our students are continually and creatively reinventing and reimagining many norms of our world.

Some of these changes seem natural and normal, others will forever surprise me – like Robert De Niro being recognized as Greg Focker’s father-in-law, not the young Vito Corleone. Regardless, our students bring new ideas and expectations to campus with them each fall. They are innovators who think in creative ways. It is our responsibility to engage that thinking and offer new challenges.

Our hands-on curriculum, problem solving in the classroom, and innovative programs like the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce do just that.






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