As parents of traditional college age children, we know that our children live in a different world. Intellectually, we know that the world changes – ever faster – and that our children have grown up with many different experiences than we’ve had. Sometimes, however, we forget – or just plain don’t realize – how different that world truly is.
Each year Beloit College releases The Beloit College Mindset List. Since the list was first published in 1998, in addition to providing college professors a chuckle, it has also proved to be an eye-opening look at “the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college” that year. The list was originated by Beloit professor Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief as a reminder to faculty members that many references used in class might be outdated, but it has become a much more comprehensive look at the worldview of current college students.
We include here, for your consideration, amusement and possible consternation, a few of the items that are true for current college students. These are taken from the last four Mindset lists. So if your student was born between 1989 and 1992, consider some of the following. (You may view the entire lists, by year, at www.beloit.edu/mindset.) If you sometimes wonder why you feel as though you don’t know your college-age student, read on.
Most students who will graduate from college in 2011-2014 . . .
- Have never known the Berlin Wall to exist.
- May never have “rolled down” a car window.
- Have grown up with bottled water.
- Have always known Nelson Mandela to be free and a force in South Africa.
- Have always known Fox as a major network.
- Never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
- Have always known the World Wide Web as an online tool.
- Have never known Myanmar as Burma.
- Have always known nutritional labeling on food packaging.
- Could be Harry Potter’s classmate.
- Have always known Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Steven Ray Vaughan, Martha Graham, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, Gene Roddenberry, Sam Walton, and Bert Parks as dead.
- Have always had electronic filing of taxes as an option.
- Have never had to talk on a phone connected to the wall.
- Have always known Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.
- Have never known IBM to make typewriters.
- Have always known the Tonight Show to be hosted by Jay Leno.
- Have always known Caller ID to be available on phones.
- Have never known life without Seinfeld references.
- Have always been able to confirm their 98.6 F temperature through their ear.
- Have always considered the “Green Giant” to be Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
- Have always known Margaret Thatcher as a former prime minister.
- Have always known Magic Johnson as HIV-positive.
- Have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
- Have always known the European Union to exist.
- Have always known the conflict in Northern Ireland to be winding down.
- Have always known Britney Spears as a rock star.
- Have never known John McEnroe to play professional tennis.
- Know Clint Eastwood as a sensitive director rather than as Dirty Harry.
- Have always seen colorful lapel ribbons worn to indicate support for a cause.
- May never have had to learn to write in cursive.
- Have never known Fergie as a princess.
- May never have seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.
- Have never known computers without CD-ROM drives.
- Have never known Czechoslovakia to exist as a nation.
- Have always known Russians and Americans to live together in space.
- Know the name “Barney” to mean a purple dinosaur rather than a character on Flintstones or Andy Griffith.
- Have always known hundreds of cable channels.
- Have always known Ruth Bader Ginsberg on the Supreme Court.
Think about it. When we say our college-age students “live in another world” we may not realize how true that statement is.