Created by Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, the “Mindset List” started as a humorous way to remind professors of the world their new matriculates grew up in, but has since become a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.
The Class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual, and 500 cable channels have always been available even if they didn’t promise entertainment. If they learned cursive in grammar school, it offered more to tradition than to any future function. Many used cell phones before they hit puberty, and have never needed wrist watches to tell the time. While they might have heard their parents mention “Dirty Harry,” they are more likely to imagine an unhygienic coworker than the Hollywood director they know by name.
The America they stand to inherit is one of trade and budget deficits, and if they could have voted for the first non-straight-white-male president, most wouldn’t have minded breaking a few more of those traditions. Russia is more interesting in history lessons than current affairs, Czechoslovakia has never existed, and China has always provided many of their plastic goods and economic concerns.
Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college (the males no doubt benefiting from a favorable gender ratio). Many will bring SmartPhones that – in form and function – bear more resemblance to computers than real telephones. These, and the laptops many schools now require of their students, will serve as yet another source of questionable information (though it's rumored Wikipedia is more credible than ever, improved at least since Michael Scott learned about negotiation.) Growing up with instant access to more information than most would care to explore or take the time to verify, many will have to adjust to their professors’ schedules and rules, some will be limited for the first time to using only printed sources for their research.
Those professors who might be tempted to think they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation might do well to remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. (Or that “hip” is the topic of a Shakira song, not an adjective.) The college Class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older. —Sara Kelly
The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014
Most students entering college for the first time this fall—the Class of 2014—were born in 1992.
For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.
1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.
2. Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.
3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way.”
4. Al Gore has always been animated.
5. Los Angelinos have always been trying to get along.
6. Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
7. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.
8. With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.
9. Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.
10. A quarter of the class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.
11. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
12. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.
13. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
14. Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.
15. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.
16. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.
17. Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.
18. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.
19. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.
20. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.
21. Woody Allen, whose heart has wanted what it wanted, has always been with Soon-Yi Previn.
22. Cross-burning has always been deemed protected speech.
23. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.
24. “Cop Killer” by rapper Ice-T has never been available on a recording.
25. Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.
26. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
28. They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.
29. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.
30. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.
31. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.
32. Czechoslovakia has never existed.
33. Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.
34. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.
35. Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
36. Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.
37. Whatever their parents may have thought about the year they were born, Queen Elizabeth declared it an “Annus Horribilis.”
38. Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
39. Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.
40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.
41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.
42. Potato has always ended in an “e” in New Jersey per vice presidential edict.
43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.
44. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.
45. They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.
46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.
47. Children have always been trying to divorce their parents.
48. Someone has always gotten married in space.
49. While they were babbling in strollers, there was already a female Poet Laureate of the United States.
50. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.
51. Food has always been irradiated.
52. There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.
53. J.R. Ewing has always been dead and gone. Hasn’t he?
54. The historic bridge at Mostar in Bosnia has always been a copy.
55. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.
56. They may have assumed that parents’ complaints about Black Monday had to do with punk rockers from L.A., not Wall Street.
57. A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.
58. Beethoven has always been a dog.
59. By the time their folks might have noticed Coca Cola’s new Tab Clear, it was gone.
60. Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.
61. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.
62. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
63. Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies.
64. The U.S, Canada, and Mexico have always agreed to trade freely.
65. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.
66. Galileo is forgiven and welcome back into the Roman Catholic Church.
67. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.
68. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.
69. The Post Office has always been going broke.
70. The artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg has always been rapping.
71. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.
72. One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been.
73. Silicone-gel breast implants have always been regulated.
74. They’ve always been able to blast off with the Sci-Fi Channel.
75. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.