Thursday, September 1, 2011

Getting schooled by the Class of '15

It's that time of year again, when millions of students go off to college for their first, second, third, fourth, or whateverth year of higher education. This Gen-Xer is going through his second round of grad school, and while I can hang out with the young people and look up on the Google anything the eighteen-year-olds throw my way that I've never heard of, not everyone in the over-thirty crowd (or even the over-25 crowd) is as hip as I.

For the rest of you, there is the annual The Mindset List, produced each year at this time by Benoit College, famous for... I guess famous for annual The Mindset List. The purpose is to help those who weren't born in 1993 — that would be the birth year for the majority of students in the Class of 2015, this year's crop of freshmen — to understand where the '15ers are coming from.

It's a great list to peruse, reminding you, for example, that young people today probably saw the Star Wars films in numerical order (i.e., Episode I, II, III, IV, V, and then VI), making Darth Vader cute instead of scary. They probably never lived in fear of a nuclear holocaust, and Reagan always had Alzheimer's.

It's a long list, so I'm going to do a jump. CLICK HERE to keep reading.

The 2011 list:
  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals.
  4. They never “rolled down” a car window.
  5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  7. They have grown up with bottled water.
  8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
  12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  13. “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  14. Music has always been “unplugged.”
  15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
  16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
  17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
  18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
  19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.
  20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
  21. Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
  22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
  23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  24. Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
  25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
  27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola “MagiCan.”
  29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest’s subliminal messages.
  30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  32. They grew up in Wayne’s World.
  33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”
  35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
  36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
  37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
  38. On Parents’ Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
  39. Fox has always been a major network.
  40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh.
  41. The “Blue Man Group” has always been everywhere.
  42. Women’s studies majors have always been offered on campus.
  43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
  45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  46. Most phone calls have never been private.
  47. High definition television has always been available.
  48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
  49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
  50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
  51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.
  52. Time has always worked with Warner.
  53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
  54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
  55. MTV has never featured music videos.
  56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
  57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
  58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  59. They’re always texting 1 n other.
  60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
  61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said “goodbye to rusty cars.”
  63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
  64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
  65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
  66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
  68. Burma has always been Myanmar.
  69. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
  70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.
Of course, some of '15ers might look at me and ask if I can regale them with stories about the days of rotary dialing and black-and-white television, but I'll know this is mockery. And that's when I'll tell them that "Class of 2015" is merely wishful thinking from days past when four-year degree meant a degree in four years, that overcrowding and understaffing at financially beleaguered academic institutions means they'll be lucky if they've graduated by the turn of the next decade.

I just hope blogging will still be cool then. 'Cuz it's either that or a chip in my frontal lobe that broadcasts my thoughts via Twitter. (Ah, who am I kidding, of course blogging will be cool in 2020.)



  1. Hmmm, some of these seem rather dated to me - Wayne's World, Beavis & Butthead, etc. I would say those apply better to the class of '05 than the class of '15. I wonder if Benoit has gotten a bit lazy about revising its list each year?

  2. I was thinking along the same lines. Wayne's World is something that was always old to the '15ers, because it came out before they were born, but we're not always exposed to something just because it's been around longer than we have.

    I don't think many infants and toddlers would have seen SNL or the movie, so I agree that the '05 reference is more apt. In the past, Benoit used to be a little more subtle, talking about things that had come out in the new class's formative years rather than before they were alive.

    Maybe they are getting lazy. Pointing out how, for example, cell phone ownership has always been normal to them, even though it was uncommon when they were first born, would be more useful than the Rusty Jones comment. Mobile phones shouldn't wait another five years, methinks.


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