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 media—radio, TV, videos and CDs—to 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.
Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991. Here are a few…
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.
Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
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.