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 this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal (John Wiley and Sons), it 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. Mindset List websites at themindsetlist.com and Beloit.edu, as well as the Mediasite webcast and their Facebook page receive more than a million visits annually.
This year’s entering college class of 2016 was born into cyberspace and they have therefore measured their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds. They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future, and are entering college bombarded by questions about jobs and the value of a college degree. They have never needed an actual airline “ticket,” a set of bound encyclopedias, or Romper Room. Members of this year’s freshman class, most of them born in 1994, are probably the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends. They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television, have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives, and can carry school books--those that are not on their e-Readers--in backpacks that roll.
For this generation of entering college students, born in 1994, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Richard Nixon and John Wayne Gacy have always been dead.
1. They should keep their eyes open for Justin Bieber or Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
2. They have always lived in cyberspace, addicted to a new generation of “electronic narcotics.”
3. The Biblical sources of terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them.
4. Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
5. If they miss The Daily Show, they can always get their news on YouTube.
6. Their lives have been measured in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds.
7. Robert De Niro is thought of as Greg Focker's long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
8. Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
9. They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
10. On TV and in films, the ditzy dumb blonde female generally has been replaced by a couple of Dumb and Dumber males.
11. The paradox "too big to fail" has been, for their generation, what "we had to destroy the village in order to save it" was for their grandparents'.
12. For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
13. They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
14. There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
15. Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they never listen to music on the car radio and really have no use for radio at all.
16. Since they've been born, the United States has measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 16 cent rise in the price of a first class postage stamp.
17. Benjamin Braddock, having given up both a career in plastics and a relationship with Mrs. Robinson, could be their grandfather.
18. Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
19. The Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
20. Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
To view the entire list of 75 items, click here.
Source: Beloit College
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