A rite of passage for incoming college freshmen

Published 5:32 pm Saturday, August 22, 2009

With summer waning and thousands of first-year students flocking to colleges throughout the country, another eagerly anticipated event happened this week when Beloit (Wisc.) College released its annual Mindset List.

The List, which was the brainchild of Professors Tom McBride and Ron Nief, looks at events that have shaped the lives of first-year college students. Besides being an ice breaker at seminars, the Mindset List is used by businesses, the clergy and the military as a way to learn how to connect with the newest generation that will make up the class of 2013.

According to McBride, this year’s freshman class, which was generally born in 1991, is likely “experiencing a severe case of déj 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?’”

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He goes on to say “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. They have grown up in a politically correct universe in which multi-culturalism has been a given. 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 Mindset List is pretty thought provoking, especially for those of us born well before 1991. Below are excerpts from the list, which can be found in its entirety at www.beloit.edu.

The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.

They have never used a card catalog to find a book.

Salsa has always outsold ketchup.

Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.

Rap music has always been main stream.

Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.

The KGB has never officially existed.

Babies have always had a Social Security Number.

They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.

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.

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.

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.

Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.

There have always been flat screen televisions.

They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.

Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.

There has always been a Planet Hollywood.

For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in doubt.

Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.

There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.

CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.

Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

There has always been blue Jell-O.