College 'Education'

Those kids many parents are sending off to college for the first time this month – are part of a diverse, internet-savvy and privacy-free group of nearly two million.

Researchers say that this Class of 2012 has been assured many times that being the children of baby boomers has made this past year the most competitive for those (almost) willing to sell their souls for admission to the school of their dreams.

For the past eleven years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin has released an annual report, cataloguing the conditions in which their newly matriculating students were raised and humorously (if painfully) comparing them to those of previous generations. Initially meant to be a “witty way of saying, “watch your references,’ authors Tom McBride and Ron Nief created a “globally reported and utilized guide to the intelligent but unprepared adolescent consciousness.’ For some, their web site’s promise that the list was “not deliberately designed to make readers feel really old!’ might feel like a warning, but for many the list will provide an excuse for nostalgia and a new way to connect with their almost-grown-up children who will soon be heading off in search of higher education.

This year’s college freshmen will overflow from their campuses, some moved to apartments and even school-rented hotel rooms, and many packed in with three people in a dorm room optimistically designed for two. They are already acquainted with their future roommates, having found each other on Facebook to discuss necessities – who should bring the fridge? – and look for clues to see how well they might get along, taking advantage of easy access to religious and political leanings, favorite books and movies, musical tastes and even personality quirks.

They have always carried bottled water – moving from cancer-scary Nalgenes to recyclable “green’ bottles made of annoyingly thin plastic – and take email, cell phones and Wi-Fi for granted. Even though the so-called “Mindset List’ highlights how different life is now from how it was eighteen years ago, it links the past and present and, surprisingly enough, reminds us that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

– Sara Kelly

The Way Things Have Always Been for the Class of 2012: A Sampling

  • They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
  • GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.
  • Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.
  • WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
  • The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.
  • Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
  • Have always known that “All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’
  • IBM has never made typewriters.