Dissecting the Mind of the Frosh

August – it’s the month when you should be aware of Psoriasis, rev your motorcycles, eat paninis, and examine the quality of your drinking water. It’s also back-to-school season, but despite the fact that this blog is college-oriented, I’m not going to be talking about back-to-school savings and advice, yadda, yadda, yadda. Instead, I’m going to be talking about how people like me think. And not just how I think and perceive the world – I’m not that vain – but how my fellow Class of 2015 thinks and perceives the world.

“What the heck are you ranting about?” You may be asking. Let Beloit.edu do the talking:

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

On August 22, 2011, Beloit released their 14th “Mindset List” of the incoming college freshman class. The Class of 2015 mostly consists of people like me born in 1993. The list is a general overview of events, ideas, people, and objects that these freshmen take for granted or will never know or experience first-hand. For example, #15 on the list states “O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.” It is only thanks to Google, Wikipedia, my parents’ dinner table conversations, and pop culture references that I know much of anything about O.J. Simpson and how he would have done it “If [He] Did It.”

According to Ron Nief, one of the creators of the list, the “Mindset List” was a sort of reaction to the suggestion that “students graduating from high school aren’t half as smart as their parents.” Mostly, however, it was a serio-comic warning to educators to adjust their teaching style and references to make education more relatable and understandable to students. In other words: stay up to date. Don’t encourage computer students in your class to back up data using a 1.44 MB floppy disk (whatever that is) instead of a 500 GB portable hard drive. If you want your joke to succeed, don’t punctuate the punchline with “churning butter”; end it with “Poke ‘er Face.”

P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face...

Joke: How do you wake up Lady Gaga?

How accurate is the list? Well, it is a general list and it mostly deals with time. It’s not meant to fit every single member of the incoming first years. The compilers take events and inventions dating before or since 1993 and apply it culturally. Here’s a peek at some of the points on the list:

  • (This begins their list. It’s an unnumbered morbid preface:) Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe and the Commodore 64 have always been dead. I’m going to be honest. I only know who one of these people are and it’s only because of the movie Princess Bride.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration. What? Psh, I don’t think they give us enough credit. I mean, it’s not like you’re reading this instead of doing something important or worthwhile, like homework, right?… Right?
  • All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.” “I Will Always Love You…: A Ballad to Heroine.” ((rimshot))
  • They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”

    You have died of Dysentery

    She looks healthy for having died of dysentery.

  • When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted. I have nothing to add.
  • They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who? They’ve definitely got this one wrong. Remember Space Jam and that awful movie with Lil’ Bow Wow where he wanted to be Like Mike? (It had that cute kid with the crazy hair and big glasses from Jerry Maguire.)
  • “Yadda, yadda, yadda” has always come in handy to make long stories short. This one is so lame. I mean, I never use… Oh. Never mind.

Check out the whole Class of 2015 list at the Mindset List website. (When you watch the introductory video, a representative touts the greatness of the list and doesn’t miss the opportunity to sneakily tell how how wonderfully, butt-kickingly awesome Beloit is because of the mind-blowing, life-changing list. Just warning you.)

What do you think of the list? Amusing? Revealing? Sad? Annoying? Is there anything you would add to or change about the list? Tell me about it in the comments.