Do You Know the Class of 2014?

Born when Ross Perot was warning about “a giant sucking sound,” and Bill Clinton was apologizing for pain in his marriage, members of the college class of 2014 have emerged as a post-email generation for whom the digital world is routine and technology is just too slow.

Each August since 1998, Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin, has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students. It was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

The class of 2014 has never found Korean-made cars unusual on the Interstate and 500 cable channels, of which they will watch a handful, have always been the norm. Dirty Harry (who’s that?) is to them a great Hollywood director. The America they have inherited is one of soaring American trade and budget deficits; Russia has presumably never aimed nukes at the United States and China has always posed an economic threat.

Nonetheless, they plan to enjoy college. The males among them are likely to be a minority. They will be armed with iPhones, on which making a phone call will be only one of many, many functions they will perform. They will now be awash with a computerized technology that will not distinguish information and knowledge. So it will be up to their professors to help them.

A generation accustomed to instant access will need to acquire the patience of scholarship. They will discover how to research information in books and journals and not just on-line. Their professors, who might be tempted to think that they are hip enough and therefore ready and relevant to teach the new generation, might remember that Kurt Cobain is now on the classic oldies station. The college class of 2014 reminds us, once again, that a generation comes and goes in the blink of our eyes, which are, like the rest of us, getting older and older.


So here it is: The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students who entered college for the first time in September — the Class of 2014 — were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder to accommodate people with disabilities.

Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better chance of running into Miley Cyrus’s folks on Parents’ Weekend.

John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

Doctor Kevorkian has never been licensed to practice medicine.

Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

Trading Chocolate the Moose for Patti the Platypus helped build their Beanie Baby collection.

Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

Leno and Letterman have always been trading insults on opposing networks.

Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides

They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day.

Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

“Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

Second-hand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

“Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while Hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.

Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.

Adhesive strips have always been available in varying skin tones.

Bud Selig has always been the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Pizza jockeys from Domino’s have never killed themselves to get your pizza there in under 30 minutes.

Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

They have always had a chance to do community service with local and federal programs to earn money for college.

Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

A purple dinosaur has always supplanted Barney Google and Barney Fife.

Walmart has never sold handguns over the counter in the lower 48.

Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

Their parents’ favorite TV sitcoms have always been showing up as movies

The Post Office has always been going broke.

One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and always has been.

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