For kids of all ages it's a time of backpacks, pencils, books and school lunches. For parents, it's often a time of wondering where the years are disappearing to and who these kids are that share their roofs.
Each year at this time Beloit College, in Beloit, Wis., puts out its Mindset List, which provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students who will graduate in four years' time.
Started in 1998 . . . the list was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.
The list is meant to be applied to college freshmen, but we find many of the items just as applicable to . . . high school freshmen, perhaps more so.
For example, no. 2 on the list: They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
Today's high school students are more Internet and social media-savvy than any generation before them. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, whatever the next big means of communicating their lives to the outside world is, they're on it.
For those of us who grew up in less "share everything" generations, this need to tell the Internet everything about their lives is mind-boggling. For parents, it's terrifying. For educators, it may open up some new and interesting means of teaching.
How about these?
Remember when Disney films were all hand-drawn and having a successful book meant you were on the New York Times best-seller list? We do, but these kids don't.
Mindlist No. 44: Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer-generated.
Mindlist No. 55: Being selected by Oprah's Book club has always read "success."
And how about world events?
This year's high school students have only known two presidents; they've always had the World Trade Organization; and the United States has always been trying to pick a side in the Middle East.
Parents have always been able to find them and keep them safe thanks to Megan's Law and Amber Alerts. And they've never needed to be given directions thanks to GPS.
All that being said, we encourage teachers to remember the generation gap between themselves and their students and to find a way to teach closer to where these kids are culturally. You never know, they may learn more.
And parents, if it seems like your kids are from another world, it's probably because they are. Check out beloit.edu/mindset/2017 to understand it a bit better.
(This is a guest editorial from The Fort Morgan (Colo.) Times.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.