Each August beginning in 1998, Beloit College has released the "Beloit College Mindset List," which notes how changes in technology, cultural standards, and world events has altered the attitudes and expectations of the current crop of college freshmen. Just as the 1998 List addressed the graduating class of 2002, this year's list focuses on the college graduating class of 2016. What began as an admonition to the faculty regarding how the world their students have lived in is radically different from the one they experienced is now a much-anticipated form of entertainment.
Tenured professors might know the source of common terms like "forbidden fruit," "the handwriting on the wall," "Good Samaritan," and "The Promised Land," came from the Bible, but chances are almost nobody in the Class of 2016 does even though students commonly use the terms. Instructors' young charges have lived in Cyberspace from the day they were born, and have likely never held a paper airline ticket. Hard copies of an encyclopedia have been found by them only in public libraries - not that 2016'ers have even been to a library. They have probably never listened to music on a radio, and chances are they already have a hearing loss from playing music loudly through headsets and ear buds (a moron down the street from me plays his car stereo so loudly that it rattles my walls when he goes by). Politeness is a courtesy seen in old movies. Stardom can always be realized overnight with the help of a viral YouTube video. Women have always been pilots and space shuttle crew members. "Star Wars has always been just a film, not a defense strategy." Class of 2016 students have never been out of constant contact with friends via texting, always-on cellphones, and Facebook. Their yearbooks have always been on digital media. The list goes on.
OK, so what about the fossils from the Class of 2002 when the first list was published? You might as well read the entire list yourself, but here are the first few to whet your appetite:
- The people starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.
- They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot.
- They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
- Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
- There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president.
- They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.
- They have never feared a nuclear war.
- "The Day After" is a pill to them—not a movie.
- They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up.
Class of 2016 alumni likely have never even heard about anything in the Class of 2002 list, which is no surprise because they have likely never been exposed to the actual text of U.S. Constitution either - only enlightened interpretations of it.
Posted August 21, 2012