Beloit College in Wisconsin is out with its annual Mindset List for the incoming college freshmen who make up the Class of 2014. The list is designed to help professors and other remember that the kids who were born in 1992 have different cultural connections than those older than them.
There are two in particular that strike me as most interesting:
Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they aren’t afraid of immigration…unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.
This is an important generational distinction. Like gays and lesbians, immigrants are much more a normal part of life for young Americans than for the generation or two that preceded them. They are in their schools, on their teams, and in their peer groups. Tolerance of people who look, speak, and act differently tends to grow when you actually know the person. This foretells an important change in public policy in the years to come as this most-accepting demographic ages.
They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S
I grew up in the Cold War, when we had to learn to duck under our desks at school and cover up to protect us from nuclear fallout in case the Soviet Union ever hurled missiles at us. Today’s school desks aren’t built as reliable lead bunkers, but the college-bound generation doesn’t fear attacks like that. Instead, they’ve grown up in the era of Al Qaeda and Timothy McVeigh, when a random attack or bomb can go off anywhere at anytime without crossing an ocean.
A few more items included on Beloit’s list:
- Few in the class know how to write in cursive
- Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail
- Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess
- They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone
- They’ve never recognized that pointing to their wrists was a request for the time of day
- Czechoslovakia has never existed
- Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall
- The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs
- Nirvana is on the classic oldies station
- Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps
- Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court
- One way or another, “It’s the economy, stupid” and always has been