Meet the Class of 2016: Born after Kurt Cobain Was Long Gone

Beloit College in Wisconsin has made a habit of releasing a “Mindset List” every August, painting a picture of pop culture, politics, and technology for the incoming freshmen. Since 1998 the school has released this list, primarily as a way for faculty to be aware of their possible dated references with the students. Today, the list has turned into a fantastic catalog of the worldview of incoming freshmen for all to enjoy.
Having the understanding that this year’s freshmen have never known a world where women couldn’t fly war planes or understanding that they see the Michael Jackson family in the same way you saw the Kennedy’s allows for a major gap to be bridged for all. Some mind blowing stats for the class of 2016 include that they were born in 1994, meaning people like Kurt Cobain, Jackie O., Richard Nixon, and John Wayne Gacy had always been a part of history.
The yearly lists are fun to read and even those of us who didn’t think we were that old are left with our jaws dropped when we realize how very different our experience of the world has been compared to these young students.
A few highlights from this year’s Class of 2016 list include:
Robert De Niro is known as Greg Focker’s father-in-law in the “Meet the Parents” movies, not as a member of the Corleone mob family.
This class may only think of Bill Clinton as a senior statesman and really have no idea about him not “having sexual relations with that women.”
The class of 2016 has never known an airport where you actually carry your suitcase versus rolling it and they’ve never had an actual airline “ticket.”
Having an exposed bra strap for this generation has always been socially acceptable, even fashionable. There’s never been anything embarrassing about them showing.
“The Santa Clause” has always been a seasonal movie during their lifetime. That one left me feeling very very old.
How about the fact that they’ve never seen a tan M&M? They’ve always had blue, but never had a bag with the light brown candies inside.
Each of these students have had images of floppy discs, telephone receivers, and paper envelopes as icons on their computers and smart phones, but few have ever actually used these items.
The baseball strike of 1994 was never a class discussion for these student, most weren’t even sitting up on their own yet.
Thanks to growing up with MP3 players and iPods, the car radio isn’t something they’ve used. Related: most of the freshmen will enter college with some hearing damage.
This class watches tons of TV, but rarely do they do so on a television.
One of the most unique aspects of this new generation is that they are referred to as “tribal.” They do not like being separated from their age group.
These are just a few of the 75 items that have landed on this year’s Mindset List. It’s a great read for all. And kudos to Beloit! We’ve all encountered that professor who was out of touch. Reviewing this list can help us all understand the mindset of the class of 2016 as they step into the world, preparing to own it one day.
Also Read:
The College Bucket List: 50 Things to Do Before You Graduate
25 Biggest Fears of the Incoming College Freshmen Class
The Big Don’ts of College Drinking That May Save Your Life