Freshmen entering college this fall have never seen an airplane “ticket” and they probably have a tough time picturing people carrying luggage through airports rather than rolling it.
To these first-year students, there have always been blue M&M’s, but no tan ones, while Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Nixon have always been dead.
And to these young adults, the Green Bay Packers have always celebrated with the Lambeau Leap.
These factoids and many others are part of this year's Beloit College Mindset List, which is designed to provide a glance at the cultural touchstones that help shape the lives of students entering college this fall.
This list has been put out each August since 1998 and is a creation of Beloit College English professor Tom McBride and former public affairs director Ron Nief.
The list isn’t simply an effort to make you feel old and out-of-touch, but 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 Mindset List website states.
McBride and Nief sent that first list in 1998 to friends and colleagues, and a few months later the Wall Street Journal had taken notice with a story in the winter of 1999. By the fall of 1999, McBride was being flown to New York to appear on the "Today Show" and talk about the list -- and it has been a media darling of sorts ever since.
I personally still enjoy scanning through the list, although a blog was posted Monday in the Chronicle of Higher Education questioning whether the Mindset List “is getting a little long in the tooth.”
That blog post then adds that “since the goal is intergenerational understanding, we wonder if it might not be more illustrative to create a database where various events, celebrities, and objects are compared according to how multiple generations were exposed to them. So, in the lighthearted spirit of the original, we’ve built an ad hoc, unofficial version of the list, to which you’re welcome to contribute.”
But the Mindset List still is a (relatively) big deal, with its websites, Mediasite webcast and Facebook page receiving more than a million visits annually, Beloit College reports.
Nief and McBride last year also published a book titled, “The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What 10 Generations of Americans Think is Normal.”
Most new freshmen entering college this fall were born in 1994. If they can graduate in four years (good luck with that), they'll be part of the Class of 2016.
Anyway, take a glance at this year's list, and then let me know if you can think of any tidbits worth adding.