Each year for many years, Beloit College questions their incoming freshman to get a sense of the culture of their incoming class. It is often considered an eye opener to not just see what incoming college students are thinking, but to see just how far times have changed. Here are highlights:
1. A majority do not know how to write in cursive script handwriting. I had some students two years ago mocking an elementary school teacher who tried unsuccessfully to teach this to her students, swearing they would need to know how to write in cursive.
2. A large number do not use e-mail. A larger number feel e-mail is “too slow” a means of communication.
3. 25% of the incoming freshmen have at least one parent who is an immigrant.
4. Remember when Clint Eastwood was the baddest of the bad asses? They don’t … they only know him as a sensitive director who does cameos in his own films. Some are not aware that he was ever primarily an actor.
5. Remember when parents worried about “Beavis and Butthead”? This group has virtually no recollection of that television show.
6. A large percentage of these students have never had a landline telephone with a corded handset.
7. DNA fingerprinting and a complete map of the human genome have always existed for them.
8. Do you remember the controversy over Johnny Carson leaving “The Tonight Show” to Jay Leno instead of David Letterman. They don’t … to them, the late night airwaves have always been a two man contest instead of a one man monopoly.
9. Most of these kids have never seen a slide projector outside of a movie.
10. One of the things the kids are shocked about: the increasing lack of CD-Rom drives: until recently they have never known computers without them, and a large chunk have no memory of seeing a “disk drive”.
11. If you its noisy, and you want to ask someone from my generation for the time, you point to or tap your wrist. A large number of these kids have never owned a wristwatch, and would never do that to communicate for the time of day.
12. They have no conscious memory of “Czechoslovakia” … they have always been two separate nations.
13. The earliest computers that they have any memory of are all completely obsolete (the survey notes that this might have been an Apple II, for reference).
14. Baseball fans only remember one MLB Commissioner in their lifetime: Bud Selig. Most don’t know he used to own the Milwaukee Brewers.
15. The idea of an HIV positive athlete is not even remotely newsworthy. The days of panics regarding Magic Johnson and Greg Louganis are ancient history to them.
16. The space race? They have only ever known Russian and American cooperation in space exploration.
17. The idea that you get the news from only the “Big 3 networks” is something they have never known … news is from cable sources or the internet only. Many have never watched a network news show or read a newspaper, and still keep up on current events. BTW … they also don’t understand what is meant by “Big 3 Networks” … because they have always known four big over the air networks.
18. Many of the TV shows their parents talk about … they know as (remade) films.
19. There has always (for them) been a free trading relationship between Canada, the U.S, and Mexico.
20. They have no memory of Ruth Bader Ginsberg not being a Supreme Court justice.
21. The threat of an all out nuclear attack on the U.S. by Russian missiles and bombers is only something they read about in a book or see in a movie. They have never seen the Russians as a lethal adversary.
22. They have no memory of ever seeing the national approval rating of Congress being over 50%.
23. To this group: Beethoven is a dog, Barney is a purple dinosaur, and Michelangelo is a computer virus.
I just checked: four more hairs went grey while I was writing this 😉