UND Class of 2019


David L. Dodds

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UND Class of 2019

Slackers, screen addicts, attention spans of gnats ? hardly!

Those descriptions have been associated with the next generation of college students, many of whom are about to take their first classes at the University of North Dakota this week.

But a more careful and fair analysis of these students suggests a much different story. It appears that the “Z” in Generation Z is less about getting too many ZZZZs and more accurately about being zealous, zestful and down right in the zone.

According to Jeremy Finch, a design and innovation strategist, Generation Z is getting a bad rap. It’s an old-as-time scenario that plays out whenever newbies mix with their elders, whether it be at university, in the workplace or society in general. Finch argues that that listless tuned-out look of Generation Z has less to do with indifference and all-hours video gaming and may very well be a reaction to the impossible task they know lies ahead.

“They only have the weight of saving the world and fixing our past mistakes on their small shoulders,” Finch writes, only half in jest, in a recent feature story in Fast Company magazine.

In actuality, Finch says, Generation Z comprises young people whose living habits are highly evolved and exude pragmatism ? a result of the past they’ve learned from, the present they’re dealing with and the future they’re faced with.

Claims that kids today have short spans of attention is a misrepresentation of what is actually going on, Finch says. What Generation Z does have is an “8-second filter,” because, unlike what past generations have had to deal with, Z has unlimited options vying for its attention in a limited amount of time. This means Z has become adept at absorbing and processing large amounts of data very quickly. Also, with the rise of the instantaneous, nothing-is-off-limits news cycle, fueled by social media, members of Generation Z have become full-time personal and professional brand managers to help them fit in and standout in this Brave New World.

So, far from apathetic, Generation Z is a proactive and practical bunch, products of their upbringing by highly self-reliant Gen Xer parents and a fear of ending up like their “aimless” and “meandering” millennial predecessors, Finch writes.

Breaking down UND’s Class or 2019

Bringing it closer to home, every year, we break down the incoming freshman class in an attempt to get to know them better. This year, hundreds of new freshmen ? most of whom were born in or around 1997 ? are moving in and getting accustomed to their new surroundings at UND. The University views this particular new class as one of the most academically prepared that has ever set foot on campus, based on high school performances and college entrance scores.

Many of these new students took part in a pep-rally style class photo at the Memorial Stadium Sunday Night.

So, in the spirit of getting to know one another, meet the UND Class of 2019, and learn who they are and who they are not:

  1. For the Class of 2019, cell phones are an appropriate and useful classroom tool rather than something that need to be hidden from view.
  2. The Internet has always been the assumed bibliography source for term papers.
  3. To them a "tablet" is no longer something you take to composition class at Merrifield Hall, or take with water in the morning.
  4. Solar-powered race cars were all the rage at UND at the time of their birth.
  5. They have never heard of "Old Science" at UND.
  6. In 1997 when they were born, unmanned aircraft was an aviation-disaster-waiting-to-happen rather than one of the fastest-growing programs at UND.
  7. To the Class of 2019, the term "computer labs" is a quaint reality of yesteryear when personal computers sat on desks and smart phones were the size of milk cartons.
  8. Google has always been an Internet search engine rather than the highest number that you could count to.
  9. WiFi has always been the norm instead of the exception.
  10. To them, monthly texting limits are as old school as the term "old school."
  11. History professors be aware: they don’t recall a time when the phrase “around the turn of the century” could be assumed.
  12. They've always been able to skip through TV channels and record two shows at the same time.
  13. For them, Saturday mornings were never the only time of the week to watch cartoons.
  14. They have never needed directions to get somewhere ? just an address.
  15. UND's new freshmen have never lived in a world where mammals could NOT be cloned.
  16. They have always had more options than regular or unleaded at the pump ? and could always pay without going inside, too.
  17. They have never heard the friendly (and dead serious) interrogative: “Smoking or non?”
  18. They are unfamiliar with the taste of the back of a postage stamp.
  19. Marijuana has always been as much medicinal as it is recreational.
  20. First responders have always been synonymous with the word “heroes.”
  21. The Great Red River Valley Flood of 1997 is not a vivid memory for them, even if they grew up in Grand Forks.
  22. UND has won six athletic team national championships in their lifetime (women's basketball-3, hockey-2, football-1).
  23. Karl Goerhring was a star hockey goalie for UND when they were born.
  24. In their minds, women have always played hockey at UND.
  25. In 1997, the old Ralph Engelstad Arena was the epicenter of sports life in Grand Forks. Today, it only exists in pictures.
  26. Classic films for UND's new freshman would include titles such as Titanic, Jurassic Park, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Men in Black.
  27. Macaulay Culkin was no longer the star of the Home Alone movies when they were born.
  28. Going to Blockbuster to get movies was a viable entertainment option when they were young.
  29. The last of the original installments of National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise – Vegas Vacation ? was released during their birth year.
  30. Back Street Boys, Aqua (Barbie Girl), Jewel, Puff Daddy (aka P Diddy or just Diddy) and Usher were bursting onto the popular music in 1997.

David Dodds University & Public Affairs writer

Parts of this article were borrowed and inspired by the annual Mindset List published by Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.

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