August 25, 2005

The Beloit College Mindset List.

It's time, once again, for the Beloit College Mindset List of things about the world today's college freshmen have known — time for us older folk to feel older. On the list:
• They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors.

• They never had the fun of being thrown into the back of a station wagon with six others.

• "Whatever" isn't part of a question but an expression of sullen rebuke.

• They've grown up in a single superpower world.

• Salman Rushdie has always been watching over his shoulder.

Why does this list leave me feeling it could have been a lot better? It seems as though they just went over some newspapers from 18 years ago and extracted some events. The bigger cultural shifts are harder to see. Aren't there much more interesting differences between the world that preceeded today's freshmen and the world they grew up in?


Eddie said...

Another one, listening to a record album means nothing to them. For that matter, listening to a tape doesn't either.

downtownlad said...

Grunge music is classic rock for them.

bill said...

downtownlad - yep, their parents will break a hip trying to pogo to the oldies station.

Slocum said...

Yeah, I think those items are pretty lousy. For example, of course they remember when 'cut and paste' was done with scissors -- it's still called kindergarten.

What I find interesting is that a lot of the things we think of as 'new' are in their second (human) generation. When I was my kids' age (high school), there were PCs (relatively primitive ones -- but they existed) and game consoles and video arcades (and some of the games were pretty damn good and have been brought back). There were no DVDs but there was VHS. CDs were still a couple of years away (but only a couple). Email, too -- I actually have email from 20+ years ago around somewhere.

My daugher came home wearing a new shirt the other day--from a distance it looked like a Che shirt and I was going to give her a hard time, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be Hendrix...

mzn said...

This list is goofy. How many college freshman have ever heard of Salman Rushdie, or for that matter, Khomeini? My undergrads are unaware of much of what is going on in the world right now. For instance, I doubt very many of them know who John Roberts is.

Also on the list:

-Andy Warhol, Liberace, and Jackie Gleason have always been dead.

Why would an 18 year-old have ever heard of Liberace or Jackie Gleason? I'm 33 and I'm only vaguely aware of these people. Sheesh.

Kathy Herrmann said...

Re Eddie's comments on "albums." I still slip and use the word...or if I don't, it's because I had to invest effort in using the term CD.

I do something kind of similar with videos, as in "going to Blockbuster to pick up a video" even though its a DVD.

Downtown lad -- When obviously tunes like "Radar Love" are true classic rock! Ha!

HaloJonesFan said...


The first thing you can remember the Army doing was getting chased out of Somalia.

Your family had a computer, and so did everyone else you knew.

Rush Limbaugh was always on the radio.

Telephones have never had wires.

'Car' always meant a big four-wheel-drive truck.

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' was a role model.

America always had stealth fighters.

Tom Cruise was an actor in his mid to late thirties who starred in "Jerry Maguire".

'Star Trek' meant 'Deep Space Nine' and 'Voyager'.

Movie bad guys were German bank robbers or American government agents, rather than Arab terrorists.

moment of Zen: The authors' credits are presented as part of the bulleted list.

Kathy Herrmann said...

mzn -- Hate to say it, but I was pretty ignorant of the world at large in college too. Didn't start paying attention until years later. I think it the 60s generation was an anomaly to be so youthfully aware (and maybe the kids coming of age during war times like WWI and WWII). Not sure most folks really start paying attention until they start paying bills, buying houses, and such.

Sean said...

Well, I liked the "cut and paste" one--I was just explaining to a young associate the other day how we used to do documents. I think she had never realized that the "cut" and "paste" commands reflected what were once physical practices.

I am tempted to add that today's young people have never redlined documents by hand, with a ruler and a red pen, but that is a rather specialized law firm item, more relevant to junior associates than to college students.

The Exalted said...

The most obvious change is the rise of the internets, and the accompanying changes in where this generation gets its news, how this generation spends its time, and how this generation communicates (instant messenger).

Sloanasaurus said...

It certainly seems that the advent of the internet marks the end point of Generation X and the beginning of the next generation. For college students starting in 2000, life is substantially different than college students in 1992 necause ofthe internet. Yet the differences from 1972 to 1992 are merely incremental.

Timothy said...

I don't write checks for anything besides rent. That's probably the biggest difference between myself and my parents.

Dad graduated from college in 1980, I graduated in 2004.