Feeling Old Yet? Incoming College Freshmen Have Always Known Google

Feeling Old Yet? Incoming College Freshmen Have Always Known Google
<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/WDnetStudio/">WDnetStudio</a> / Pixabay

Feeling Old Yet? Incoming College Freshmen Have Always Known Google by Frank Holmes

I use Google every day, and yet I still marvel at how amazing a tool it is. Part of this amazement stems from the fact that most of my life was spent in the dark ages before the search giant changed human knowledge forever. I appreciate it in a way 19th-century, transcontinental travelers must have appreciated steam locomotives’ ability to shave days and weeks from their covered-wagon travel time. Except Google is more like a rocket ship than a locomotive.

This year’s incoming college freshmen, on the other hand, have never not known the wonders of Google. To them, all human thought—whether in words, images or videos—has always been easily and instantaneously accessible. They’ve only ever known the rocket ship, never the covered wagon.

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This factoid is just one among many that appear on Beloit College’s latest Mindset List.

Published each August since 1998, the Mindset List was initially designed to provide professors with a snapshot of incoming freshmen and help them understand new students’ beliefs and values. It also inadvertently challenges the idea behind the encouraging expression “You’re only as old as you feel.”

Below are a few of my favorites from the list. They say a lot about how this particular cohort, the graduating class of 2019, perceives the world:

Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.


The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.


They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.


Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.


Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.


TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimace of quarterbacks.


They’re such simple facts, but they help us understand the behaviors and thought patterns of our future business leaders, politicians and investors. Being familiar with the world they grew up in sheds light on why they invest in, or will eventually invest in, certain companies and industries.

Millennials, as you might imagine, are more likely to put their money in companies and brands that are important to their particular lifestyles. According to TD Ameritrade, some of the hottest companies for younger investors include Apple (an average 11.4 percent of their equity portfolios), Facebook (2.6 percent), Alibaba (1.5 percent) and Tesla (1.3 percent). Apple represents 6.3 percent of millennials’ first stock trade after opening a new account with the broker; Google is 1.2 percent.

Baby boomers, of course, invest heavily in these companies as well, but they tend to place more emphasis on tried-and-true stalwarts such as AT&T, Exxon Mobil, and Johnson & Johnson—what some millennials might describe as “boring.”

Young investors are also more likely to be attracted to “socially responsible” companies, as well as mutual funds that invest in such companies—those that treat not just their shareholders well but also employees, suppliers, customers and local communities. Between 1995 and 2014, total assets invested in these companies increased 11-fold, from $0.6 trillion to $6.6 trillion, according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. Millennial investors are largely to thank for this.

Finally, this group is surprisingly more willing to work with a financial advisor than boomers and more accepting of nontraditional asset categories, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs), hedge funds and commodities. That’s according to Natixis Global Asset Management, which conducted a survey earlier this year of 750 Americans with more than $200,000 in investible assets.

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