Each year, since 1998, the administrators at Beloit College in Wisconsin put together a cheat sheet for their professors on the incoming freshman class and fall 2010 is no different as the class of 2014 (born in 1992) gets ready to attend university.
This cheat sheet is called the Mindset List and its purpose is to tell professors (and any other faculty who would care to read) about the â€œcultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.â€
Initiated in 1998 by Tom McBride and Ron Nief, the Mindset List offers a unique and more importantly, a culturally aware look into young America. Or does it?
With the release of the list analyzing the class of 2014, what’s different?
Or for that matter, what would surprise the non-millennial?
- Kurt Cobain is on the ‘oldies’ music list.
- Few know how to write cursive.
- E-Mail is too slow.
- â€œCaramel macchiatoâ€ and â€œventi half-caf vanilla latteâ€ are considered commonplace lingo.
- One quarter of the students have at least one immigrant parent, and therefore are not afraid of immigration in the United States.
- Fergie is a pop singer, not a British duchess.
- “They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.”
- Czechoslovakia has never existed.
- Presidential parties have always included a rock band for entertainment.
- Beethoven is a great name for a dog.
- “Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
So with these nuances now front-and-center, I, for one was curious.
As a digital native, I was the class of 2007 — what has changed? Or better yet, has not changed?
- “Ctrl + Alt + Del” is as basic as “ABC.”
- Bert and Ernie are old enough to be parents.
- Screening test for AIDS always existed.
- Backpacks were always able to fit computers.
- “Fried eggs” and “your brain” have always had some sort of association.
- PIN numbers always existed — for everything and anything.
- “Banana Republic has always been a store, not a puppet government in Latin America.”
- Yuppies are almost as old as the Hippies.
- “Rock and Roll has always been a force for social good.”
- Peeps are not candy, rather they’re friends.
- “They know who the “heroes in a half shell” are.”
- “They can still sing the rap chorus to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the theme song from Duck Tales.”
Aside from the lengthy lists on digital habits and tidbits on popular culture, one of the most important things to remember for anyone reading this list (or any other is that,) life moves very quickly (probably even more so in a digital age.)
Generational perception and differences provide historical context.
So really, is the list really about being ‘cool’ with students, rather than trying to truly understand them?
After all, not everything in this list are concrete and completely relevant to each and every person in a generation. That is commonsense.
Not only that, but some of the ‘facts’ listed seem to be a tad superficial and condescending. This, makes the mind wonder about how much of it are true ‘facts’ as opposed to insincerity to perpetrate superiority.
Plus, I’m missing the references to Harry Potter and (dare I even mention it) Twilight in there.
For the class of 2007, when we graduated from university, for those of us that were avid readers or fans of fantasy (just a few million of us,) Harry Potter had taken up a entire decade of our lives (1997-2007.)
That’s an entire 10 years: from when were were pre-teens to when we were pre-adults.
And Twilight, well a lot of folks attribute its success to Harry Potter with timing being everything and the new series being able to fill a sinking-void left behind to a decade’s worth of fantastical-thrill seekers. That’s roughly a couple million people. That’s roughly a couple hundred-thousand millennials.
Sasha Muradali runs the Little Pink Book. She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida with a minor in Dance (â€™07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami (â€™08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima or get a copy of the Little Pink Book delivered to your Kindle.