Mindset of the Class of ’14: Email Too Slow, Cursive Not Important

BlogHer Original Post
Young woman in class with laptop

For this year’s graduating high school class, college acceptance letters were probably some of the few personalized messages students had ever retrieved from a mailbox rather than their inbox. Today’s college freshman looks at a wristwatch as more of a fashion statement than a necessity and can probably text, tweet, and Facebook message information faster than they could address an envelope or even send an email.

Professors Ron Neif and Tom McBride at Beloit College in Wisconsin recognized this generational gap between new freshmen and their professors, who probably didn’t hear Nirvana on the classic oldies station or understand the phrase “venti half-caf vanilla latte” when they entered college. Thus, they began compiling The Mindset List for every incoming freshman class since 1998. Each list compiles “cultural touchstones” and other technological and social norms that have shaped the way that that year’s 18-year-old looks at the world.

Want to get into the heads of the class of 2014? Take a look at the things that have always been a part of these new college students’ realities.

  • Once they got through security, going to the airport has always resembled going to the mall.
  • Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.
  • Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.
  • Czechoslovakia has never existed.

I graduated from high school in 2008, and while I do vaguely remember life before cordless phones and DSL, some things that have always been a reality for me are considered modern by my parents. My Mindset List would look something as follows:

  • Keyboarding classes were more common in elementary school than lessons in cursive.
  • “Look it up” has generally implied to searching online for an answer, not in an encyclopedia.
  • My vocabulary has included the word “Google” longer than it hasn’t, and “text” can be used as both a noun and a verb.
  • Professors have had to remind students that the books on the library’s shelves serve a purpose other than keeping us company as we sit on our laptops watching YouTube videos and pretending that Wikipedia is a credible source of information for that 12 page research paper.

My generation has grown up with the world literally at the tips of our fingers, in the palms of our hands, on our laptops and BlackBerrys and iPhones. Today’s young adult has been privileged enough to become accustomed to effortless accessibility. But don’t be discouraged when a recent graduate doesn’t understand that song reference or movie quote or why Fergie would be associated with the British throne—they can Google it later.

(Check out the original article)

What items on this year’s Mindset List do you find shocking? What would be on your Mindset List?


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