Aug 25, 2012

What Freshmen Don't Know

Born in the year of the professional baseball strike, members of the class of 2016 have always lived in cyberspace plugged into MP3’s and iPods—so much so that a quarter of students entering college already have suffered some hearing loss. Members of this year’s freshman class are probably the most “tribal” generation of all time, and they can’t stand being out of constant communication with friends.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the College Mindset List, the brainchild of Tom McBride, Keefer Professor of the Humanities and Ron Nief, former public affairs director. Designed to clue professors into what their new frosh experienced growing up, the list traditionally signals the start of the academic year.
Items on the list reflect the cultural and political world views of today’s 18-year-olds. For the class of 2016, most of them born in 1994, the U.S. has “measured progress by a 2 percent jump in unemployment and a 1-cent rise in the price of a fist class postage stamp.” They have never needed an actual airline “ticket” or purchased a set of bound encyclopedias.
Here are some additional highlights: 
  • They should watch for Justin Bieber of Dakota Fanning at freshman orientation.
  • Robert De Niro is known as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone.
  • Two-thirds of independent bookstores in the U.S. have closed for good during their lifetime.
  • For most of their lives, the head of the State Department has been a woman.
  • They can’t picture people carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
  • There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
  • Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction.
  • Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
  • Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy
  • There have always been blue M&M’s but no tan ones.
  • Stephen Breyer has always been an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.
  • The Metropolitan Opera House in New York has always translated operas on seatback screens.
  • Gene therapy has always been an available treatment.
  • Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes.
  • They grew up without the benefit of Romper Room.”
  • There has always been a World Trade Organization
  • They have always enjoyed school memories with a digital yearbook.
  • History has always had its own channel.
  • Thousands have always been gathering for “million-man” demonstrations in Washington, DC.
  • The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.
  • Little Caesar has always been proclaiming, “Pizza Pizza.”
  • Unlike their parents, they understand you don’t take pictures on “film,” and CD’s and DVD’s are not “tapes. 
  • They don’t remember when Arianna Huffington was a conservative. 
Kinda makes you feel old.
For the complete list as well as lists going back to 2002, visit the Beloit College website.

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