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 the nation asked "was Iraq worth a war?"
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. It is used around the world as the school year begins, as a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation. It is widely reprinted and the Mindset List website at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/ receives more than 300,000 hits annually.
As millions of students head off to college this fall, most will continue to experience the economic anxiety that marked their first two years of life just as it has marked their last two years of high school. Fears of the middle class--including their parents--about retirement and health care have been a part of their lives. Now however, they can turn to technology and text a friend: "Momdad still worried bout stocks. urs 2? PAW PCM".
Members of the class of 2013 won't be surprised when they can charge a latté on their cell phone and curl up in the corner to read a textbook on an electronic screen. The migration of once independent mediaradio, TV, videos and CDsto the computer has never amazed them. They have grown up in a politically correct universe in which multi-culturalism has been a given. It is a world organized around globalization, with McDonald's everywhere on the planet. Carter and Reagan are as distant to them as Truman and Eisenhower were to their parents. Tattoos, once thought "lower class," are, to them, quite chic. Everybody knows the news before the evening news comes on.
Thus the class of 2013 heads off to college as tolerant, global, and technologically hip and with another new host of The Tonight Show.
The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013
Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.
- For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, 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.
- Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
- Earvin "Magic" Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
- Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
- They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
- Rap music has always been main stream.
- 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.
- They never saw the "Scud Stud" (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)
- Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
- They have never had to "shake down" an oral thermometer.
- Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
- They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
- American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
- Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
- State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
- The European Union has always existed.
- McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
- Condoms have always been advertised on television.
- Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
- Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
- 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.
- The nation's key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
- They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
- Women have always outnumbered men in college.
- We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
- Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
- Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
- It's always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.
- Madonna's perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
- Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
- Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
- Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
- There have always been flat screen televisions.
- They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
- Disney's Fantasia has always been available on video, and It's a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
- Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.
- Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.
- Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
- Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.