The Mindset List

I just read an article about this list, and I find it as fascinating as I find it insulting.  Maybe I’m scared by how true it is.  Maybe I’m threatened by its presumptuousness.  Maybe I’m terrified by the prospect that it might be true as applied to even one incoming college freshman.

But as soon as I read about it, I knew I had to discuss it here.  And here it is. 

The “Beloit College Mindset List” started as a list written by a couple of college professors for their colleagues to give them awareness of the cultural references that incoming college freshmen may not understand (being so young and ignorant and all).  Now they print portions of it in the paper every year.  It’s a clever idea, I think, but it ends up sounding like a list written by 70-year-olds for the amusement of other 70-year-olds, without any actual input from the 18-year-olds in question.

The list is by proposed graduating year, assuming (perhaps generously) a four-year run at it.  So the list for this year’s incoming freshman is the 2015 list, which I have included a link to here, but I am warning you, proceed with caution.  Frightening stuff!

More fascinating to me was the 2002 list, which is the year I actually graduated from college.  I have opinions, which I will be happy to detail, but first here is an excerpt from the list.  I would love to hear some feedback.

  1. The people starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.
  2. They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era, and did not know he had ever been shot.
  3. They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.
  4. Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.
  5. There has only been one Pope. They can only remember one other president.
  6. They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.
  7. They have never feared a nuclear war. “The Day After” is a pill to them—not a movie.
  8. They are too young to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger blowing up.
  9. Their lifetime has always included AIDS.
  10. They never had a polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is.
  11. Bottle caps have not always been screw off, but have always been plastic. They have no idea what a pull top can looks like.
  12. Atari pre-dates them, as do vinyl albums.
  13. The expression “you sound like a broken record” means nothing to them.
  14. They have never owned a record player.
  15. They have likely never played Pac Man, and have never heard of “Pong.”
  16. Star Wars looks very fake to them, and the special effects are pathetic.
  17. There have always been red M&Ms, and blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?
  18. They may never have heard of an 8-track, and chances are they’ve never heard or seen one.
  19. The compact disc was introduced when they were one year old.
  20. As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.
  21. They have always had an answering machine.
  22. Most have never seen a TV set with only 13 channels, nor have they seen a black & white TV.
  23. They have always had cable.
  24. There have always been VCRs, but they have no idea what Beta is.
  25. They cannot fathom what it was like not having a remote control.
  26. They were born the year Walkmen were introduced by Sony.
  27. Roller-skating has always meant in-line for them.
  28. “The Tonight Show” has always been with Jay Leno.
  29. They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.
  30. Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
  31. They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a football player.
  32. They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
  33. The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI and WWII or even the Civil War.
  34. They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.
  35. They can’t imagine what hard contact lenses are.
  36. They don’t know who Mork was, or where he was from.
  37. They never heard the terms “Where’s the Beef?”, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” or “De plane, de plane!”
  38. They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.
  39. The Titanic was found? I thought we always knew where it was.
  40. Michael Jackson has always been white.
  41. Kansas, Boston, Chicago, America, and Alabama are all places—not music groups.
  42. McDonald’s never came in Styrofoam containers.
  43. There has always been MTV, and it has always included non-musical shows.
Is this accurate?  And, perhaps more interestingly, if you were a college freshman anywhere around this time, are you insulted?  Who do these guys think they are?
I would love to hear what you think!

4 thoughts on “The Mindset List

  1. I was born halfway through 1979 and graduated college in 2001, and I find the “class of 2002” list not even close to accurate. I had a record player growing up. I was familiar with Atari, Pong, Pac Man, beige M&Ms, “Where’s the Beef?”, hard contact lenses, the Challenger explosion, and McDonald’s styrofoam containers. I remember when we got our first microwave, our first VCR, and our first TV with a remote. Counting them up, I would say that at least 28 of these 43 “facts” are wrong, at least as applies to me, which makes me highly skeptical of the accuracy of the list for other “classes.” Maybe if I had emerged from total oblivion at age 12 without any awareness of any event that had happened before then, it might be right.

  2. I’m not exactly part of the group referred to, but I think the list is WAY off, even if I was born in ’77. I have a sister born in ’80 and I am pretty sure she would say the same. And I don’t think it’s all that funny either, mostly because it isn’t true. Yeah, who ARE these guys anyway?

  3. I took issue with just about every item on the list. Overall, I found it generally amusing, fairly insulting, and largely inaccurate. Unless these kids grew up in a bubble and never watched re-runs, went to school, or talked to their parents, I don’t see how 90%+ of the list isn’t just flat out wrong.

    I don’t think it matters if you were actually a college freshman at the time or not. In a sense, I feel like that is a ploy to give these two license to insult a whole generation. They couldn’t care less about helping incoming freshman adjust or bridge acceptable generational differences. They just want an excuse to call us all, collectively, idiots. What a stuck-up bunch of smarmy, tweed-jacketed wind bags, CLEARLY in love with the sounds of their own voices. I’ve seen this before.

    Maybe we should make a list of stuff that THEY don’t have a clue about.

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