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and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief as a reminder to faculty members that many references used in class might be outdated, but it has become a much more comprehensive look at the worldview of current college students.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 in the class of 2016, most of whom were born in 1994. (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.
For most students who will graduate from college in 2016 . . .
- They have always lived in cyberspace.
- Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
- They have never seen an airplane ”ticket.”
- For most of their lives, maintaining relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world has been a woman’s job in the State Department.
- They can’t picture people actually carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
- While still fans of music on radio, they often listen to it on their laptops or replace it with music downloaded onto their MP3s and iPods.
- Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction.
- A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
- Women have always piloted war planes and space shuttles.
- Having made the acquaintance of Furby at an early age, they have expected their toy friends to do ever more unpredictable things.
- There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.
- They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
- Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
- Simba has always had trouble waiting to be King.
- They have always been able to see Starz on Direct TV.
- They have always enjoyed school and summer camp memories with a digital yearbook.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has always been officially recognized with clinical guidelines.
- Point-and-shoot cameras are sooooo last millennium.