Class of 2013 Has a Different Mindset

They say that history repeats—and that those who do not learn from the past are destined (doomed?) to repeat it.

That said, if the entering college class of 2013 had been more alert back in 1991 (when most of them were born) they would now be experiencing a severe case of déjà vu. The headlines that year railed about government interventions, bailouts, bad loans, unemployment, and greater regulation of the finance industry. The Tonight Show changed hosts for the first time in decades and we were still dealing with the aftermath of a war in/with Iraq. 

According to the Beloit College Mindset List, Carter and Reagan are as distant to members of the class of 2013 as Truman and Eisenhower were to their parents—and tattoos, once thought “lower class,” are, to them, quite chic. Everybody knows the news before the evening news comes on. 

For these students:

  • Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
  • Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
  • The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
  • They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  • Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
  • They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
  • Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
  • Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
  • The KGB has never officially existed.
  • Text has always been hyper.
  • Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
  • They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
  • The European Union has always existed.
  • Condoms have always been advertised on television.
  • Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
  • The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
  • Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
  • Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
  • There has always been a Cartoon Network.
  • They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
  • Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
  • There have always been flat-screen televisions.
  • Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
  • There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
  • Nobody has ever responded to: “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
  • There has always been blue Jell-O.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Emeritus Public Affairs Director Ron Nief.   

The complete Beloit College Mindset List (as well as the listings from prior years) is available at