Archive for Thursday, August 25, 2005

U.S. before Starbucks now land before time

New college freshmen grew up with coffee chain, digital cameras

August 25, 2005


— For this year's crop of college freshmen, Starbucks has always been around the corner, "America's Funniest Home Videos" has always been on the air, and men named George Bush have been president for more than half of their lives.

Born in 1987, the freshmen attending their first college lectures around the country this term grew up with pay-per-view television and voice mail on their phones, dirty dancing at school proms, and the United States as the only superpower.

Those are some of the cultural landmarks on the Beloit College Mindset List, an annual compilation that offers a glimpse of the world view of each incoming class. The list was released Wednesday by the private school of 1,200 in this southern Wisconsin city.

The Class of 2009 has never known Andy Warhol, seen Jimmy Swaggart preach on TV, or watched Arsenio Hall.

Jimmy Carter? "That's just another name people throw around," said Abby Engebose, 18, who was going through orientation Tuesday on the school's 40-acre campus.

Technologically savvy, the students grew up with home computers, digital cameras, and souped up car stereos. Cable television has always been powerful and has blurred the lines between news and entertainment.

Like most of the men in his class, Joe Erkenbrack, 18, of Pella, Iowa, admitted that he didn't know how to tie a tie. He doesn't even own one.

The list reminds older generations what's happened in the last 18 years and aims to educate professors about the lives of their young students, said Tom McBride, a humanities professor at Beloit who has compiled the list for seven years.

"It reminds them that if they are going to teach Watergate, they have to explain what it is first," he said.

Ron Nief, the school's director of public affairs who helps edit the list, said it has practical uses - branches of the Armed Forces and churches have used it in training young officers and ministers.

"It is a window into their lives," Nief said, emphasizing that the list is not meant to be a chronology of events.

As for Starbucks, "they've been there as long as I can remember," said Leah Knowles, 17, of St. Paul, Minn., who drank her first Frappuccino in seventh grade.

Mindset List

Excerpts from the Beloit College "Mindset List" for the Class of 2009, most of whom were born in 1987.

¢ They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors. ¢ Heart-lung transplants have always been possible. ¢ Wayne Gretzky never played for Edmonton. ¢ Iran and Iraq have never been at war with each other. ¢ They're more familiar with Greg Gumbel than with Bryant Gumbel. ¢ Voice mail has always been available. ¢ "Whatever" is not part of a question ¢ They have always had the right to burn the flag. ¢ Bill Gates has always been worth at least a billion dollars. ¢ The Starship Enterprise has always looked dated. ¢ American Motors never existed. ¢ Halogen lights have always been available at home. ¢ Snowboarding has always been a popular winter pastime. ¢ They do not remember "a kinder and gentler nation." ¢ They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly. ¢ Airports have always had upscale shops and restaurants. ¢ The Field of Dreams has always been drawing people to Iowa. ¢ Lyme disease has always been a concern in the woods. ¢ They have always been challenged to distinguish between news and entertainment on cable TV.


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