By Ron Nief,
Director of Public Affairs, Beliot College
Wis.—Across the nation, students are entering colleges and universities
with their own perspectives on the times in which they live. Most of
them were born in 1985.
For the sixth year, Beloit College has developed and distributed to the
faculty and staff the “Beloit College Mindset List.” According to
co-editor Tom McBride, Keefer Professor of the Humanities at the
Wisconsin liberal arts college, the list helps to slow the rapid onset
of “hardening of the references,” in the classroom.
McBride notes that “These entering students were born into a world that
had developed a screening test for AIDS and where managed healthcare was
gaining its first foothold. The Middle East had replaced the USSR and
Eastern Europe as our greatest challenge to security. It is a generation
which believes in technological innovations and solutions and where
digital devices, PIN numbers and calling cards are an integral part of
their lives. Despite the fears associated with AIDS and divorce, we
should remember that this is a generation that has grown up in a largely
successful, prosperous society . . . I believe they are fascinated and
vexed by the results of the world they have made,” says Prof. McBride.
“The Mindset List, among other things, is a reminder of that world—a
world that makes education a tougher yet more fascinating job than ever.
In saying hello to the new generation, which they labor mightily to
understand, but with mixed results, they are saying good-bye to
themselves. There is something of wicked and addictive interest in that.
I myself am part of that very generation. There is, for me, a
bittersweet pleasure in knowing that Cherry Cokes didn’t always come in
cans and there are millions of first-year students who will never know
how delicious it was when it didn’t.”
In April of the year the class of 2007 was born, Joseph Lelyveld
complained in The New York Times that “conversations with some young
people around the country about the war in Vietnam will find their
impressions of it to be remarkably dim.” High school juniors and
seniors, could not identify Ho Chi Minh, Robert McNamara or the Chicago
In The New Yorker that year, it was noted that “Each generation brings a
clean slate into the world. But the world itself is not a clean slate,
and what happened before needs to be learned and remembered.”
With the help of hundreds of people who have made contributions and
after months of preparation, Beloit College is now pleased to present
the Mindset List for the entering class.
THE BELOIT COLLEGE MINDSET LIST FOR THE CLASS OF
Most students entering college this fall were born in
1. Ricky Nelson, Richard Burton, Samantha Smith, Laura
Welles, Karen Ann Quinlin, Benigno Aquino, and the U.S. Football
League have always been dead.
2. They are not familiar with the source of that “Giant Sucking Sound.”
3. Iraq has always been a problem.
4. “Ctrl + Alt + Del” is as basic as “ABC.”
5. Paul Newman has always made salad dressing.
6. Pete Rose has always been a gambler.
7. Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents.
8. An automatic is a weapon, not a transmission.
9. Russian leaders have always looked like leaders everyplace else.
10. The snail darter has never been endangered.
11. There has always been a screening test for AIDS.
12. Gas has always been unleaded.
13. They never heard Howard Cosell call a game on ABC.
14. The United States has always had a Poet Laureate.
15. Garrison Keillor has always been live on public radio and
Lawrence Welk has always been dead on public television.
16. Their families drove SUVs without “being fuelish.”
17. There has always been some association between fried eggs and
18. They would never leave their calling card on someone’s desk.
19. They have never been able to find the “return” key.
20. Computers have always fit in their backpacks.
21. Datsuns have never been made.
22. They have never gotten excited over a telegram, a long distance
call, or a fax.
23. The Osmonds are just talk show hosts.
24. Undergraduate college athletes have always been a part of the
NBA and NFL draft.
25. They have always “grazed” for food.
26. Three-point shots from “downtown” have always been a part of
27. Test tube babies are now having their own babies.
28. Stores have always had scanners at the checkout.
29. The Army has always driven Humvees.
30. Adam and PC Junior computers had vanished from the market before
this generation went online.
31. The Statue of Liberty has always had a gleaming torch.
32. They have always had a PIN number.
33. Banana Republic has always been a store, not a puppet government
in Latin America.
34. Car detailing has always been available.
35. Directory assistance has never been free.
36. The Jaycees have always welcomed women as members.
37. There has always been Lean Cuisine.
38. They have always been able to fly Virgin Atlantic.
39. There have never been dress codes in restaurants.
40. Doctors have always had to deal with “reasonable and customary
fees” and patients have always had controls placed on the number of
days they could stay in a hospital.
41. They have always been able to make photocopies at home.
42. Michael Eisner has always been in charge of Disney.
43. They have always been able to make phone calls from planes.
44. Yuppies are almost as old as hippies.
45. Rupert Murdoch has always been an American citizen.
46. Strawberry Fields has always been in New York.
47. Rock and Roll has always been a force for social good.
48. Killer bees have always been swarming in the U.S.
49. They have never seen a First Lady in a fur coat.
50. Don Imus has always been offending someone in his national audience.
In all fairness it should be understood that students
this fall do have a few items on their own lists that will separate them
from many of their mentors:
1. For many of them today, it’s all about the “bling,
2. They know who the “Heroes in a half shell” are.
3. Peeps are not a candy, they are your friends.
4. They have been “dissing”and “burning” things all their lives.
5. They can expect to get a ticket for “ricing out their wheels.”
6. They knew how to pop a Popple and trade a Pog.
7. They can still sing the rap chorus to the “Fresh Prince of
Bel-Air” and the theme song from “Duck Tales.”
© 2003 Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
* Past Mindset Lists can be
Last year, Duane Gustavus, wrote his
"Mindset 1946" to share with Benchmarks Online readers.