The Beloit College Mindset List for 2018

This is it, 2018. The freshman year of the kids born on the eve of the new millennium They entered college, and assuming they don't switch majors three or four times, they'll graduate in 2022.

No more kids who look fondly back on the '90s. No more kids who write "19" on their birthdates. Everything that happened last century is considered history, and they have no idea what the 20th century even looks like. If you were born before 2000, you're a relic of a bygone era.

Eminem has always been famous. OJ Simpson has never not been a murderer. And William and Harry's mom has always been dead.

To help their faculty understand where today's incoming freshmen are mentally and emotionally, Beloit College has released its annual Mindset List for the incoming class of 2018. While this is supposed to help the faculty make appropriate cultural references (e.g. don't just casually reference the OJ Simpson trial), it's also supposed to help the faculty to avoid shouting, "What the hell is wrong with you kids? Don't you know anything?" during the lectures.

My dad, a retired college professor who still teaches from time to time, has noted that today's students are less interested in talking to each other before class and instead spend their free time staring at their phones. Today's freshmen have grown up in a time when you could carry a small computer that lets you take pictures, send text messages, read emails, read books, listen to music, and if there's still time, call their parents to ask for money.

I'm especially despondent about this year's list because my younger daughter is now at that same age. Reading about all the things kids know and don't know these days makes me realize there's so much I haven't explained to her. Things that she'll never learn except in her Ancient History class, which is now covering the 1960s.

For one thing, these kids are no longer Millennials, even though they were born the year before the new millennium began. (Because the new millennium started in 2001, not 2000. If the first year AD was 1, add two millennia — 2,000 years — to that number and you get 2,001, the year the third millennia began. Fight me on this.)

Instead, today's freshmen are part of Generation Z, although some use the term iGen. They haven't agreed on the actual term however, which means we'll probably never get a consensus. They'd better decide soon though, because the next generation is going to start being born in the next five years.

So what else do today's college freshmen know and not know about the world they've been born into? What are things that older Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers have always known?

For one thing, there have always been school shootings in their lifetime. The first major school shooting, Columbine, happened in 1999, and children across the country have been at risk of being shot in their own schools ever since. And their lives have been filled with politicians who only offer thoughts and prayers without actually do anything.

Generation Z grew up with stories about where their grandparents were on November 22, 1963 and what their parents were doing on September 11, 2001. Their whole lives have been affected by September 11, but they don't remember it at all.

There has always been a Prius on the road. And Prius owners have always had an air of smugness.

They've never heard the phrase "You've got mail," except for those times their moms made them watch the movie of the same title.

Same-sex couples have always been able to get married in The Netherlands, starting in 2001. Any children born to those couples in that year will be starting college next year themselves.

There has never been an Enron, TWA, or Swissair, but there has always been a Verizon.

There have always been humans living in outer space, and plenty of rich people willing to pay the price to go out there as tourists — 561, in fact.

Generation Z has always been able to use Wikipedia to write their history papers. And plagiarism-checking software Copyscape has been around since 2004 to catch them.

According to Beloit College, people have been able to shout at imaginary friends — or at least hold conversations with cell phones on Bluetooth headphones — for Generation Z's entire life.

There has always been a Big Brother. There has always been a Survivor — the TV show and the band. Today's freshmen were two when The Bachelor first aired, and you've always been able to turn to the Internet to watch movies or videos of people injuring themselves on a dare.

Chad has only ever been some kid in their class, so they don't understand "hanging chad" and "pregnant chad" jokes. They just think you don't like their friend. Or understand procreation.

Finally, King Friday the XIII and Lady Elaine Fairchild have only existed in reruns for the Class of '22. And now, thanks to PBS' complete disregard for history, you can't even see them in reruns. You have to find them on YouTube or Twitch.

Which they'll no doubt watch on their phone before class.

Photo credit: John MacIntyre (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 2.0)

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