Mindset 2007

It’s that time of year again! Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Mindset List.

When they welcome the class of 2011 in the coming weeks, American colleges and universities will be saying hello to the generation born as the Cold War was ending. For them, a Russia with multiple political parties and a China with multiple business enterprises seems quite normal. They’ve grown up in a time of triumphant capitalism, where it’s common for stadiums to be named after corporations and where product placements have always been yet another clever way for companies to sell their wares.

Each August for the past decade, as faculty prepare for the academic year, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Its 70 items provide a look at the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students, most of them born in 1989. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. Latchkey kids for most of their lives, students entering college this fall think nothing of arriving home with parents still at work, then e-mailing or texting their friends, instantly updating their autobiographies on “Facebook” or “MySpace, and listening to their iPods while doing their research on Wikipedia. They’ve grown up with Rush Limbaugh urging his fellow Dittoheads to excoriate liberals, with having been taught by an equal number of women and men in the classroom, and with women having been hired as police chiefs of major cities.

Food has always been a health concern. Consumer awareness about ingredients and fats has always been energized. They’ve never “rolled down” a car window, and to them Jack Nicholson is mainly known as the guy who played “The Joker.” As usual, they remind their elders how quickly time has passed. For them Pete Rose has never been in baseball. Abbie Hoffman’s always been dead. Johnny Carson has never been live on TV, and Nelson Mandela has always been free. As for the Berlin Wall, what’s that?

In addition to those mentioned above (no BERLIN WALL???), there are some jarring entries:

7. They have grown up with bottled water.

13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.

23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.

43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.

55. MTV has never featured music videos.

Check out the whole list at Beloit College. It’s mindbending.

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