Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

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Approximately 4,000 new Bobcats kicked off their academic careers Sunday.

Photographer: Elizabeth Held

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Bobcat freshmen revealed

Class of 2016: A snapshot of the average incoming Bobcat

Although you won't see first-year college students Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning setting foot on Athens bricks this year (Sorry, Bobcats!), campus is crawling with plenty of other newbies: Ohio University's Class of 2016.

Approximately 4,000 new Bobcats kicked off their academic careers Sunday at the President's Convocation for First-Year Students. And according to the Beloit College Mindset List, it's a class that comes with its own unique world view.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. Among its nonscientific findings, the report found that the average college freshman:

  • Has always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics”
  • Has never seen an airplane “ticket”
  • Has had to incessantly remind their parents not to refer to their CDs and DVDs as “tapes”
  • Watches television everywhere but on a television
  • Has always eaten blue M&Ms, but no tan ones

Their lives, according to the report, have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. For these students, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Nixon have always been dead.

Based on what we know of the Millennial generation's past, we can also make some predictions about its future. For example, here at Ohio University, we know that the average incoming Bobcat:

  • Will spend 8.5 hours on the computer every day
  • Will study 13 hours per week
  • Will visit the library 20.4 times in a year
  • Will spend 3.7 weekends per month on campus
  • Will go out with friends 8.9 times per month

Of this group, 72 percent will take part in intramurals and campus recreation; 19 percent will go Greek; and 88 percent will be involved in some extracurricular activity. Based on average SAT and ACT scores, we can also surmise that incoming freshmen are a bit smarter off the starting block than their upperclassmen counterpartsrefuting the "lowly freshman" typecast.  

But why is it important to pick the brain of OHIO's first-year student? And what, if anything, can be gained?
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi, it all comes down to knowing our clientele.

"Knowing who our students are allows us to better shape the programs and services we provide to them. Having a sense of how they spend their time also allows us to develop new ways for them to maximize their success both in and out of the classroom," he said.

At this year's New Faculty Welcome and Academic Orientation, Lombardi helped new faculty get inside the heads of the Class of 2016 by highlighting several trends among first-year students. Among these were:

  • An increased concern for safety
  • A higher prevalence of mental and physical health concerns
  • A desire for instant communication
  • An increased focus on career, fueled by economic pressures

Understanding and adapting to these trends will better enable OHIO faculty and staff to reach students on all levels, he said.  

"The Division of Student Affairs and our academic partners are committed to constantly examining the opportunities we provide to students to grow holistically at Ohio University," Lombardi said. "We strive to implement practices that are innovative and reflective of how our students will learn most from their experiences."

The Class of 2016: In their own words

By Kristen Spicker

Analyses aside, who better to unravel the mysteries of the Class of 2016 than the freshmen themselves? Here's what the Class of 2016 is saying:

"The majority of the time we talk to someone, it isn't face to face; the tooth fairy has always given us bills, not change; the computer has always been around, and the Internet is almost a necessity."
-Emily Storm, International Studies

"I would say that we're much more easily distracted."
-Samantha Wittkopp, Pre-early Childhood Education

"For me, being a music major, a lot of the technology is different. (Students) catch on quicker, but (professors) know more about the 60s and the 70s … the classic stuff."
-Seth Alexander, Music

"I don't know anyone older than me that still likes to roller blade."
-Paige Blankenship, Pre-law/Political Science

"Some people my age don't even know what a mixed tape is."
-Rachael Klein, Theater

"Well we're the first class to start on semesters."
-Taylor Fedikovich, Pre-medicine