Entering College Freshman Have Never Licked a Postage Stamp

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997.

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau and Mother Teresa. Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.               

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. For this year’s entering class, there has always been Google, and email, which is seen as informal by older Millennials, has emerged as “the new formal” for them. Teachers have had to work overtime to encourage them to move beyond the Web and consult sources in books and journals. And, to them, Poland has always been a member of NATO.

“The Class of 2019 will enter college with high technology an increasing factor in how and even what they learn,” says Charles Westerberg, director of the Liberal Arts in Practice Center and Brannon-Ballard Professor of Sociology at Beloit College. “They may think of the ‘last century’ as the twentieth, not the nineteenth, so they will need ever wider perspectives about the burgeoning mass of information that will be heading their way.”

NEXT: Interesting points on the list.

Some interesting points on the list include:

  • Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced;
  • Google has always been there;
  • They have never licked a postage stamp;
  • Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual;
  • Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule;
  • They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement;
  • The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents;
  • Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times;
  • Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party;
  • If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”;
  • When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies;
  • Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online;
  • In a world of DNA testing, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington has never included a Vietnam War veteran “known only to God;”
  • “The Lion King” has always been on Broadway;
  • Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.;
  • TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks;
  • Their proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas;
  • Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway; and
  • For the youngest of the 2019 class, there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List!

This year’s Mindset List also includes an addendum of terms that faculty need to understand if they are going to communicate effectively.  For example, “quiche” has everything to do with looks and nothing to do with food.

The complete list is at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2019/.