College – an American rite-of-passage for most young adults finding themselves and preparing to enter the workforce. The tradition has persisted since the founding of Harvard in 1636, but the attributes of college have changed over the course of time. Social norms, pop culture, societal interests and politics influence both the college experience and college students. The average Bobcat in 10 years will be extremely different than current students, as our class is different than students that have attend OHIO before us. In 10 years, Bobcats will foster a college experience shaped by sustainability, athletics, social media, and pandemic consequences.
It’s no secret our planet is heading towards an irreversible climate crisis. In 2021 alone we have faced record-breaking temperatures, wildfires, and tropical storms. Scientists predict the climate will continue to worsen unless we take drastic measures to reverse the damage. The Earth is our only home, and young people are beginning to take action to save the planet and our futures. As the next generation of Bobcats come to Athens, they will emphasize the importance of sustainability and environmentally responsible decisions. I predict the students will call for more green initiatives from the University while carrying out sustainability in their own lives. Students will bike and walk more, use reusable totes at retail and grocery stores, recycle their trash, and support local businesses with green missions. Furthermore, the number of vegetarian and vegan students will skyrocket, causing the need for more inclusive food options at the dining halls and on Court Street.
Traditionally, sporting events have not been an area of focus for students at OHIO. It’s even a well-known joke that people only attend the football games to watch the Marching 110 and leave after their halftime performance. Yet, I predict sporting events will be a bigger deal for future Bobcats. With the rise of TikTok, students have the chance to see exactly what life is like for students at universities with an emphasis on athletics like Ohio State University, Alabama, and Clemson. The tailgates and games at those universities are fun and appealing, and students will want to replicate that environment. Furthermore, OHIO’s March Madness performance last spring will help to ignite the athletic desire. After rushing Court Street once, students will be chasing that feeling again.
Influencer culture will not be going away in 10 years. In fact, most students will be active participants in cultivating their image on social media and generating their own content. Although impossible to predict what apps and media will be most popular in the next 10 years, the students of the future are the most well-equipped to tell their own stories through social media. From podcasting to blogging to posting TikToks, they will jump at the chance to create and potentially monetize content for their passions. This trend of influencer culture also aligns with the generational trends of having multiple streams of income and being passionate about the work they’re doing.
This article would not be complete without acknowledging the impact the pandemic has had on children. Although the true impact cannot be known since we are still struggling with the pandemic, there are some qualities that can inferred. College students in 10 years are more likely to be introverted and lacking social cues. Childhood is an important time of life for developing relationships and understanding verbal and nonverbal communication, and isolation and social distancing have caused barriers for developing these skills. For the students who do develop social skills, though, they are more likely to be wilder than in previous years. The need to stay inside to isolate coupled with the rise of helicopter parenting is taking away freedoms and learning opportunities for children. When they reach college, they will finally have full freedom and will be forced to learn some of the harder truths of adolescence in their 20’s. The social dynamics at OHIO in 10 years will be varied and more different than any time in the past.