It’s that time of year again: the lazy days of summer are dwindling to a close, the back-to-school sales are starting up in earnest and the folks at Beloit College have decided to once again make everyone over the age of 22 feel desperately old. It’s time for the Mindset List for the Class of 2016.
Every year since 1998, Tom McBride and Ron Nief of Beloit College have compiled The Mindset List, a guide to the cultural touchstones that this year’s entering college freshmen are familiar with — and what they aren’t. For kids born in 1994, Kurt Cobain has always been dead, for example, and Robert DeNiro is best-known as Greg Focker’s father-in-law from the Meet the Parents movies. They have never seen a paper airline ticket. And while they know that clicking on a floppy disk icon will save a document, they’ve probably never seen a floppy in real life.
McBride, a former humanities professor, and Nief, the school’s former public affairs director, got the idea after noticing Beloit teachers warning each other to watch their cultural references when talking to students. A classroom full of ’90s children, for example, just isn’t going to get your Cabaret references, no matter how witty (trust us on this one). Their lists ultimately inspired a book, “The Mindset Lists of American History,” published last year. As McBride and Nief say in the 2016 list’s introduction, “Generation gaps have always needed glue.”
In the meantime, here are some highlights of how those who will graduate college in 2016 see the world today:
-Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes “American Royalty.”
-Bill Clinton is a senior statesman of whose presidency they have little knowledge.
-There have always been blue M&Ms, but no tan ones.
-There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
-Their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf.
-White House security has never felt it necessary to wear rubber gloves when gay groups have visited.
-Martin Lawrence has always been banned from hosting Saturday Night Live.
Click here for the full list.