Image Credit: "photoshop practice again" by nats

This fall, I am working with a university to develop an online version of its traditional classroom First-Year Experience class for incoming freshmen. Even though as a parent of a college almost-senior and a college freshman I feel like I keep up with trends, it’s always good to check out Beloit College’s annual Mindset List to help understand some of the cultural references that are common to students entering college now.

And why is this type of list important for educators? It helps us to remember to keep the examples we use in class fresh and relevant. I recall the sounds of crickets chirping in the room a few years ago when I asked if anyone could relate to having an Arnold Horshack in the class with them. Don’t want that to happen to me again. Or to anyone else.

The complete list is at Beloit’s site; I’ve extracted a few of my favorites from the annual Mindset List below:

For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.

They have never used a card catalog to find a book.

Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.

They never saw the “Scud Stud” (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)

Babies have always had a Social Security Number.

They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.

American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.

There has always been a Cartoon Network.

We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.

Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.

There have always been flat screen televisions.

Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.

They have never been Saved by the Bell.

Most communities have always had a mega-church.

Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

There has always been blue Jell-O.


2 Responses to Always and Never: What Are Those First-Year Students Thinking?!

  1. ..- I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information ;”

  2. Sobering list, Barbara. All resonate with me in the UK except for one notable exception: the mention of mega-churches.

    We’re teaching students who were born in the 1990s. The Thatcher-Reagan-Cold War era we so often allude to is ancient history to them.