Class of 2013 Beloit College Mindset List

When the freshman class headed off to college in 1991, the headlines railed about government interventions, bailouts, bad loans, unemployment and greater regulation of the finance industry. The Tonight Show changed hosts for the first time in decades, and the nation asked “was Iraq worth a war?” 

Eighteen years later, the class of 2013 is arriving on campuses amidst headlines condemning bad loans and high unemployment while debating the value of government interventions, bailouts, and greater regulation of the finance industry.  Conan O’Brien has replaced Jay Leno and we’re still asking “was Iraq worth a war?”  

You might be thinking…the more things change, the more they stay the same.  That is until you take a deeper look – the headlines in 1991 were ink on paper.  Today the headlines are bits and bytes on electronic screens. Back in 1991, a man walking down the street and talking to himself was considered crazy.  Today, this same talking man might just be engaged in a conversation with his “Bluetooth” plugged in his ear.  

The 2013 Beloit College Mindset list, started in 1998 by Ron Nief, emeritus director of public affairs for Beloit College in Wisconsin, who was later joined by Tom McBride, professor at Beloit College, chronicles events, like the demise of print media, that have shaped the mindsets of the newest college class. It is these events that will shape their  points of view for the rest of their lives and ultimately define how collaborative or oppositional they are with other generations.

For instance, a favorite point of discussion among Baby Boomer managers is tattoos. Once considered to be the exclusive logo for drunken sailors and trashy girls, today they are quite chic and valued as a form of personal expression. This different point of view is creating quite a bit of tension in the workplace especially in the HR world.

Skimming over the list, it is easy to see how time flies and how differently the youngest Generation Ys experience the world. A few of more of my favorites on this year’s list:

  1. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
  2. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
  3. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
  4. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
  5. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
  6. They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
  7. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
  8. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
  9. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
  10. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
  11. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
  12. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
  13. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
  14. They have never been ‘Saved by the Bell.’
  15. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.

The following comment posted on another blog sums up the difference just a few years makes:

"I was having my nails done last week when the young daughter of the person next to me said, “They didn’t have nail places everywhere when you were little? Geez, what kind of world was it back then?”

Read the complete 2013 Beloit College Mindset list.

What events did the Beloit College list miss?  Share them with us by posting them here or on our Facebook fan page.

Learn more about different points of view that bind and divide the generations in Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization.


Ira S Wolfe