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The Mindset of the Incoming College Freshmen 383

Beloit College has come out with its annual Mindset List of what the incoming class (of 2013) has always known and has never known. "For these students, ... the Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables. They have never used a card catalog to find a book. ... Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible. ... Rap music has always been mainstream. ... Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled. ... Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code."
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The Mindset of the Incoming College Freshmen

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  • Sorry (Score:5, Informative)

    by dakohli ( 1442929 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:30PM (#29114155)
    In my world, Britney Spears has never been featured on a Classic Rock Radio Station.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SgtKeeling ( 717065 )
      While most of the items on the list are true, some are off the mark as far as I'm concerned. "#64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging" Personally, I see more and more CDs sold in cardboard rather than plastic these days. "#51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations" Classic Rock Stations? I usually listen to the CBC (Talk Radio) or classic rock, and I've never heard Britney Spears on a rock station.
    • To everything - turn, turn, turn
      There is a season - turn, turn, turn...

    • Re:Sorry (Score:5, Funny)

      by Fluffeh ( 1273756 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:36PM (#29114697)
      I just always assumed every other boy had my mindset when I hit that age.

      Girls! GIRLS! GIRLS!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jo42 ( 227475 )

      What is a "Britney Spears"?

  • 1984 much? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nadando ( 1234720 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:35PM (#29114193)
    'The European Union has always existed'.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SleazyRidr ( 1563649 )

      The KGB has never officially existed.

      Sounds like something that might have been true all along...

    • Re:1984 much? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gbarules2999 ( 1440265 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:28PM (#29114633)
      I know I'm not quite indicative of my fellow class of 2013 (I'm on Slashdot, dear lord), but this is nonsense. I know exactly who the Green Giant is and have eaten several of its products. I have indeed used a card catalog to find books, back in elementary and early middle school. Tattoos being chic is an opinion that is not shared by an entire generation.

      The actual link has truth in the list occasionally, but I'm annoyed at the assumptions made.
  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:42PM (#29114253)
    ...I just told my Electronics 1001 students about the tube testers they used to have at Seven-Eleven. I'll have a 12AU6 and a Slurpee, please. rj
  • ... and U2 sucks.
  • America is in trouble. These are the same students who think that all countries along the equator are hotter than any desert in the USA.

    Heck, I saw and almost touched snow on one mountain in Africa. Quite a revelation to me...I almost froze!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tonycheese ( 921278 )
      Why would that put us in any kind of trouble? Is it particularly important to know that some countries on the equator are cold? How is that relevant to anything? This list looks to me like an entertainment piece, reminding people of rapid culture changes in the US or the world. It doesn't exist to show us that we have a failing education system.
      • Why would that put us in any kind of trouble?

        You will not categorize "Not knowing anything about other parts of the world" as particularly advantageous, will you? If all [ignorant] college going folks referenced in the article became future politicians, we surely would have "work" on our hands.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Artifakt ( 700173 )

        I can think of several reasons why knowing some tropical regions are cold matters. For one, look at geopolitics:

        South America - the left edge is where most of the mountains are, often leaving no more than narrow strips before you get to the seacoast. Peru and Argentina are both colder on average than is generally assumed by North Americans. So, is coca a tropical plant? Or is that just another assumption that follows from the first one? 'No one could grow coca in the Rocky mountains - it has to be imported

    • Because labelling and then making assumptions about an entire generation is a great pastime once you grow older, I assume. they all seem to be doing it these days.
  • by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:46PM (#29114295)

    ...with my eyesight failing from old age like this, it's too hard to aim if you're across the street.

    Somewhere between reactionary neophilia and reactionary neophobia, there is a sparsely populated middle ground where things are evaluated on their own merits, and new things are not automatically good nor old things automatically bad, or vice versa. The modern predilection for the new is just as robotic and mindless as the pre-modern predilection for tradition, the only difference being that we're now indoctrinated into neophilia by advertising instead of being indoctrinated into neophobia by religion.

    Maybe, if we learned from the past instead of ignoring it, we wouldn't feel compelled to reinvent COBOL every thirty years. Then we would have been spared the horror of Visual Basic, and then later, Python. Can't wait to see what the next lumbering reanimated monster from the forgotten past will be.

    Oh wait, I can already guess: another implementation of Scheme.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PBoyUK ( 1591865 )
      I find the concept of the reinvention of COBOL to be severely troubling. On the one hand, although Zombies are cool, they're still sufficiently dragged down by COBOL that the result would be terrible. On the other, a reinvention of COBOL could lead to the eventual development of time travel, fueled by the desire to go back and kill the nefarious project and/or creator in its infancy.
    • The only thing you learn fro history is thaty no one ever learns from history.

      Great post oh ancient (4 digit ID) wise badger.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      Ah yes, the horrors of Python. What are those, again? I mean apart from the standard "wtf significant whitespace" one.

    • I'm sorry, "the horror of ... python..."? Where did that come from? Wait, let me guess, the language would be great if it had "ends"" or, even better, used braces to delimit blocks.
      • Well, you have to admit that a language with simple syntax, rich object libraries and reasonable performance that runs everywhere and is free has to be a bit suspect. Hell, we can't have our managers thinking we should be productive, can we?

    • Then we would have been spared the horror of Visual Basic, and then later, Python.

      Burn, you witch, BURN!

      I have heard many critiques of/complaints about Python, but you are the first to compare it to COBOL. I would be curious as to how you would make that case.

    • Now all they have time for is reading and math. And not really math, but memorization and defined, structured motions of arithmetic functions. What is the point of "reading" when no one is learning how to write, or think critically, or imagine? An memorized functions will only help so far when the real problem is not defined and you have to generate the formulas.
  • "Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled."

    The president in the 90s has never inhaled either;)

    • Yeah, I am confused by that, as well. Clinton did pot. Bush II was an alcoholic who also did coke. Obama is a smoker who did pot in his youth. What exactly is meant by that "the President never inhaled" statement?

  • by chebucto ( 992517 ) * on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @10:59PM (#29114395) Homepage
    I was born in the early 80s, and some of these things hold true for me, which is somehow reassuring
    • They have never used a card catalog to find a book.

    I find it hard to believe that there aren't still a lot of school libraries out there that still use card catalogues. But what do I know.

    • Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.

    I think there's at least a 10-year delay between birth and awareness of international politics; the first UK PM I remember John Major

    • Salsa has always outsold ketchup.

    I do remember the excitement we all felt when Salsa was officially the fastest-growing condiment in North America. Heady days, those.

    • Text has always been hyper.

    This is interesting. Wiki tells me the first web pages went up in December 1990. Those early days of the web have really moved into the realm of history, albeit recent history.

    • Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.

    I don't recall it ever being socially unaccebtable, though I do know it was considered - and is, if you ask me - a stupid thing to do, up there with jumping out of perfectly good airplanes.

    • They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.

    Since when is RSVP out of our lexicon? I never got that memo.

    • The European Union has always existed.

    Well, the European Community has existed since the 50s; this one's more of a technicality.

    • McDonald's has always been serving Happy Meals in China.

    And Tianammen Square happened before they were born! Yikes.

    • Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.

    I imagine this has been true since the 60s, at least.

    • The nation's key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    As opposed to what? The GNP?

    • Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.

    And I bet there's someone on Slashdot who cares! :)

    • There have always been flat screen televisions.

    I don't think there were any flat-screen TVs in 1991 - unless you count those flat-glass CRTs, which don't really count.

    • Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.

    Hah! I doubt that happens very often.

    • Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.

    Quayle had power? Biden has power?

    • Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.

    That only became blase in the late 90s, as far as I'm concerned

    • by Burdell ( 228580 )

      I find it hard to believe that there aren't still a lot of school libraries out there that still use card catalogues. But what do I know.

      My sister teaches sixth grade, and last year she mentioned something about the card catalog. She got blank looks from her class, and finally one of the smartest, most studious kids raised her hand and asked what my sister was talking about. There was also an intern teacher in the room, and she vaguely remembered it. She did remember what happened to the cards though; some students took out library books and looked at the back of the check-out card (where they stamp the due date), and they were the old ca

    • > Biden has power?

      Well, he has power to annoy the Russians by going on about their 'withering economy' [].

    • There's one quote that's going to stick with me, forgive me for not remembering it correctly however; I read this a while back.

      Archeologists uncovered a tablet from thousands of years ago. Roughly about the same time as "The Epic of Gilgamesh", the oldest written story; in it, the writer sates. "I despair of the children of today, they are too interested in the modern stories, full of fire and fury, and do not pay attention to their crop records and studies."

      So that's one thing that's been around forever
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )

      Born in the 80s?

      No, you are still young in body. But that's OK.

      As we get older, we're supposed to get wiser, but in fact as I get older I don't see most of my peers changing much at all. They were closed minded, ignorant,and obstreperously intolerant youths, and they're aging into closed minded, ignorant and obstreperously intolerant elders. The world moves past them; it changes and they don't change with it. They're too picky about who they learn from to learn much at all. As youths, they see the exper

  • I attended Beloit, I think before they came up with the mindset list. The computer was fed with punch cards to program in Fortran I think. It was located in the basement of 1890's former science building (now the student union). Any other alum's read slashdot?
    • Not from Beloit (Reed, actually), but I kicked a few decks of FORTRAN punch cards while I was there. In the 70's, punk. ;-)

  • I'm extrapolating from the 2002 list, which is the oldest one and for the class that was born the year after I was. Many of the things they claimed people of that age never experienced or were too young for, I knew about back then.

    Granted, I'm a little sharper than the average, but it was just /full/ of inaccuracies. I don't expect this list to be all that much better.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:17PM (#29114545) Homepage
    Soon they will also be people who only remember when Fermat's Last Theorem was a solved problem, not one of the great mysteries told to young kids interested in mathematics. I've worked for a few years teaching number theory to highschool students and it came as a shock when I realized that I was teaching some students who had actually been born after Andrew Wiles had proved Fermat's Last Theorem. The proof of FLT was one of the defining moments in my mathematical childhold. And in a year or two, those kids will in college. There really isn't any simple problem that has the same wonderful history to rope kids into doing math by looking really easy and yet having such a convoluted and romantic history. Even the oldest two unsolved problems in mathematics (whether there are any odd perfect numbers and whether there are infinitely many even perfect numbers) don't have the same sort of romance to them: No one ever claimed they had a beautiful proof of these. Ok, someone now go ahead and mark this an off-topic ramble by an old-codger...
    • by biobogonics ( 513416 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2009 @11:48PM (#29114793)

      Soon they will also be people who only remember when Fermat's Last Theorem was a solved problem, not one of the great mysteries told to young kids interested in mathematics.

      The problem might be solved, but there still is a lingering mystery. Did Fermat have a proof by elementary methods? Does such a proof exist? But I suppose that since there is A proof, the impetus to find another one is mostly gone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dasunt ( 249686 )

        The problem might be solved, but there still is a lingering mystery. Did Fermat have a proof by elementary methods? Does such a proof exist? But I suppose that since there is A proof, the impetus to find another one is mostly gone.

        There's a great passing mention of Fermat's last theorem in the book "The Light of other Days".

        In the book, a device allows one to see the past. Someone looks at old Fermat, and discovers he did possess a simple and elegant proof.

        That proof ends up spawning an entire new fie

      • the impetus to find another one is mostly gone.

        Don't bet on it. I remember when I was studying Geometry in High School and we got to the Pythagorean Theorem. There was a mention in the text book that there are hundreds of different proofs of it, including one by President Garfield.

  • "the Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables"? What are these people on? Shrek came out in 2001. Are they saying that we (yes, I am this precise age) never saw or heard a Green Giant commercial? I sure have.

    I also take umbrage with some of their other points, like "Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa."
    We used to have NYNEX (the New England Baby Bell) for telephone. (Hell, I think I still have a NYNEX umbrella somewhere...) TV was fr
  • "There have always been flat screen televisions"
    "Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister"

    These statements are not a function of one's age, nor are they true as is. Is the author trying to say that we've got a group passing through that is so self-centered that they refuse to acknowledge any event prior to their birth? I was born in the 80s, but I know it's false to say "Winston Churchill has always been a former prime minister" or "CRT screens have always existed".

    But why point out
    • Is the author trying to say that we've got a group passing through that is so self-centered that they refuse to acknowledge any event prior to their birth?

      Just wait till those freshmen take Philosophy 101.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

      Then at the top are lines like "Members of the class of 2013 won't be surprised when they can charge a latte on their cell phone and curl up in the corner to read a textbook on an electronic screen.".... nor should anyone who has recently left the cave. Hell, the first guy I knew that got an eReader was in his 60s. You're not excused from observing your surroundings just because you've made it to (or past) middle-aged.

      I think it emphasizes the speed of societal and technological change which has been going on of late (say, the last two decades). I recall hearing in the early '00s how we are now undergoing a greater increase in knowledge as a society in a single day than occurred during the whole of WW2 - or something to that effect. That much change, that quickly, can have a drastic impact on a society, whether intentional or not.

      Consider: kids today have, in all likelihood, always had cell phones and SMS. I'm 28 and I r

  • Few things. (Score:2, Interesting)

    As a upcoming freshmen let me make a few points.
    3. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
    Shrek came out in 2001. I remember part of the first 11 years of my life. Including the Jolly Green Giant (not much but enough to never call Shrek the green giant).
    4. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
    My first Elementary School had one, so did the public library back then.
    8. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
    That's pretty regional, it is only in
  • by idiotnot ( 302133 ) <> on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @12:37AM (#29115073) Homepage Journal

    "you have died of dysentery"

    As well as MS-DOS and the Apple II.

  • They don't truly know what Cc. stands for on an e-mail. Even if they do know it stands for the words "carbon copy" they don't know what a carbon copy is.

    Of course this has been true for quite a few years.

    • I'm 36 years old. The only place I have ever seen "carbon" paper used for typing was from an old box of office supplies my mom had. She also had an old mechanical typewriter, which I used to poke at as a kid. They may have been used in offices, but I've never seen it done. I only used them when I was a kid playing with her typewriter, proving to myself that I could spell. :) Big deal.

      How many people on here learned to type on a mechanical typewriter? Not very many, I'd g

  • by Myopic ( 18616 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @01:50AM (#29115395)

    They say that "Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled", but that confuses me. Obviously this is a reference to Clinton, but Bush was a well-known druggie and drunk. Am I to believe that he commonly snorted coke off of coeds' naked bodies and drove drunk, but never puffed a joint? I suppose that is possible, but I find it hard to believe.

  • by Myopic ( 18616 )

    Serious question: When was the GDP not the key indicator of the national economy? (I'm ten years older than these freshmen.)

    • by Animats ( 122034 )

      When was the GDP not the key indicator of the national economy?

      Actually, GDP may be on the way out. There's increased interest in watching consumer spending. Financial transactions contribute to GDP in a way that creates illusory "production" through double-counting. Because of the turmoil in financial markets over the last year, GDP isn't a strong indicator of real world economic activity.

      Older key indicators were housing starts (1990s; Alan Greenspan was a big fan of housing starts), Gross National P

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @03:24AM (#29115809) Homepage
    • There have always been homeless people in American cities.
    • About 10% of Americans will see their income drop by half in any given year. This is normal.
    • There have always been tent cities in the US.
    • The Government never paid welfare to people who couldn't get jobs.
    • Employers never offered retirement plans that took care of employees.
    • Employers never paid for medical care.
    • Most manufactured retail goods were always imported.
    • College educations at state schools were never free.
  • Jesus Christ, *how old are you* person who wrote these questions? I'm 37, and state abbreviations for postage haven't had punctuation in them for most of my lifetime either. I can remember because we had to be able to address an envelope as part of a 5th-grade competency test. And card catalogs were about 75 percent computerized at my high school by the time I graduated.

  • by Rick17JJ ( 744063 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2009 @05:22AM (#29116323)
    When I was a college freshman in the early 1970s, this was our world:

    Cell phones did not exist, although most doctors had some type of telephone in their cars.

    Home computers and on-line banking and on-line shopping did not exist. Text messaging did not exist. Facebook, MySpace and Twitter did not exist (I still don't know what they are).

    Some of the older telephones still were the rotary phones, where we had to dial the number. We could hear the pulse type dialing being used. The newer phones probably had the buttons and tones, by then. If we dialed 0, by itself, we could talk to the operator. If I am not mistaken, we still had to pay extra, on our monthly bill, for each extra telephone in the house.

    Typewriters were used to type letters. Some were electric and some were purely mechanical.

    Many secretaries knew how to take dictation by shorthand.

    Slide rules were frequently used by engineers and scientists to perform addition, subtraction, roots, logarithms and trigonometry. Pocket calculators did not exist. However, adding machines did exist.

    Nearly all of the appliances that we owned were controlled by mechanical knobs and levers. It was more of an analog world, although large businesses did have computers.

    Many businesses still used punched cards to store data for computer databases.

    We were being encouraged to used trans fats instead of saturated fats because they were supposedly less dangerous than saturated fats. Now we are being told that trans fats are even worse.

    Cars needed a minor tune up every 6,000 miles and a major tuneup every 12,000 miles. Engines usually needed to be overhauled at about 100,000 miles. Most of our gasoline powered cars had carburetors. To start a car when it was cold, we had to pump the gas peddle several times first. On some older cars, we also still had to use a mechanical choke.

    Police cars could do about 140 MPH and policemen carried revolvers instead of pistols.

    I hoped I would not be drafted and sent to Vietnam. Fortunately, the war was winding down by then, an few people were drafted that year.

    AIDs did not exist and I had never even heard of herpes, until several years later.

    If a young person asked the barber to not cut his hair too short, the barber frequently cut it somewhat shorter than he wanted anyway (for some reason). Eventually barbers stopped doing that.

    In many states our social security number was used as our drivers license number. Grocery stores would not accept credit cards, so we usually paid by check. When writing a check at the grocery store or elsewhere, the cashier or clerk usually wrote our driver's license number on the back of our check. Over the decades, many thousands of people have seen my driver's license number and written it on the back of my thousands of checks.

Every little picofarad has a nanohenry all its own. -- Don Vonada