Tiny Beloit College, a Wisconsin liberal arts school about 90 minutes north of Chicago, has released its list of items that make up the mindset of this year’s incoming class of college freshmen.
“The Mindset List,” as it is called, is an exercise the school has conducted since 1998, which is two years after this year’s freshman were born. Considering that interesting but useless fact, I was surprised that the list did not include an item such as: “For this year’s freshman, there has always been a list that purports to document their mindset.”
But that’s OK.
Other things on the list, such as the Unabomber has always been in jail and Ralph Nader has always run for president, are just as liable to evoke a “hmmm, that’s kind of interesting” from readers of the list.
But the list itself is more interesting for us old fogies as it reveals to us the march of time and to perhaps reveal how out of date we truly are.
For instance, there has always been TV designed to be watched on the Web for today’s freshman, and that’s how they watch TV shows — on their laptops or notepads. That’s good to know, as I wrestle with the idea of keeping cable, or buying a digital antenna for the family TV (remember that guys) and then subscribe to Netflix. Instead of thinking this through, I should just ask the nearest college freshman.
It’s also kind of sad, as I recall 15 college freshman packed in one kid’s room to watch game six of the 1975 World Series (you know what I’m talking about if you recalled Robin Williams’ Academy Award winning performance in “Good Will Hunting” these last few weeks. If not, please look it up on Netflix) on a 13-inch black and white TV.
At least I can watch my favorite reruns of the “Andy Griffith Show” (Goober imitating Cary Grant) and “I Love Lucy,” (Lucy stomping on grapes making wine) any time I want.
There are clear mindset attitudes completely different from those of my peers, the kind of difference that says, “Hey, geezer, the debate’s over so get used to it.”
For example: My peers are split on gay marriage, but for the incoming freshmen, the courts have always been overturning bans on same-sex marriage.
Here is one that took me by surprise: My generation’s mindset about national politics is based on the idea of the failed presidency. By the time my generation reached college, we had been through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford, to be followed by Carter. That’s quite a litany of failure.
But today’s college freshmen have lived their entire lives with two-term presidencies. They’ve had Clinton, Bush and now Obama. Even the single term of the first Bush was an anomaly between two-termers Reagan and Clinton.
I’m left wondering, what does that quite interesting fact bode for the future?
Alas, I don’t think a college freshman can tell me the answer to that one.Tags: Randy Blaser