I used to post these pretty regularly on a past incarnation of the board.

If you are unfamiliar, each August, starting in 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, WI presents The Mindset List, "providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall." It initially was meant to be a guide to the faculty to help them understand the incoming freshman class, by pointing out the things that "everybody" knows are different for the teachers as they are for those students, because times have changed. Accordingly, it's a warning to those teachers to "watch their references."

For example, one past Mindset List points out that the icon on computers for saving files is an image of a 3.5 floppy disk, which is something no teenager today has ever used and likely has never ever seen.

As an additional wrinkle, this year's list adds 10 entries of expressions the young people use that the older generation may not understand.

Without futher ado: The 2019 Beloit College Mindset List

Students heading into their first year of college this year are mostly 18 and were born in 1997. 

Among those who have never been alive in their lifetimes are Princess Diana, Notorious B.I.G., Jacques Cousteau, and Mother Teresa.

Joining them in the world the year they were born were Dolly the sheep, The McCaughey septuplets, and Michael “Prince” Jackson Jr.

Since they have been on the planet:

1. Hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced.

2. Google has always been there, in its founding words, “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible.” 

3. They have never licked a postage stamp.

4. Email has become the new “formal” communication, while texts and tweets remain enclaves for the casual.

5. Four foul-mouthed kids have always been playing in South Park.

6. Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule.

7. They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement. 

8. The NCAA has always had a precise means to determine a national champion in college football.

9. The announcement of someone being the “first woman” to hold a position has only impressed their parents.

10. Charlton Heston is recognized for waving a rifle over his head as much as for waving his staff over the Red Sea.

11. Color photos have always adorned the front page of The New York Times.

12. Ellis Island has always been primarily in New Jersey.

13. “No means no” has always been morphing, slowly, into “only yes means yes.”

14. Cell phones have become so ubiquitous in class that teachers don’t know which students are using them to take notes and which ones are planning a party.

15. The Airport in Washington, D.C., has always been Reagan National Airport.

16. Their parents have gone from encouraging them to use the Internet to begging them to get off it.       

17. If you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”

18. They have avidly joined Harry Potter, Ron, and Hermione as they built their reading skills through all seven volumes.

19. Attempts at human cloning have never been federally funded but do require FDA approval.

20. "Crosstown Classic” and the “Battle of the Bay” have always been among the most popular interleague rivalries in Major League Baseball.

21. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny has never been the official song of the Virginia Commonwealth.

22. Phish Food has always been available from Ben and Jerry.

23. Kyoto has always symbolized inactivity about global climate change.

24. When they were born, cell phone usage was so expensive that families only used their large phones, usually in cars, for emergencies. 

25. The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.

26. The eyes of Texas have never looked upon The Houston Oilers.

27. Teachers have always had to insist that term papers employ sources in addition to those found online. 

28. In a world of DNA testing, the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington has never included a Vietnam War veteran “known only to God.”

29. Playhouse Disney was a place where they could play growing up.

30. Surgeons have always used “super glue” in the operating room.

31. Fifteen nations have always been constructing the International Space Station.

32. The Lion King has always been on Broadway.

33. Phoenix Lights is a series of UFO sightings, not a filtered cigarette.

34. Scotland and Wales have always had their own parliaments and assemblies.

35. At least Mom and Dad had their new Nintendo 64 to help them get through long nights sitting up with the baby.

36. First Responders have always been heroes.

37. Sir Paul and Sir Elton have always been knights of the same musical roundtable.

38. CNN has always been available en Español.

39. Heaven’s Gate has always been more a trip to Comet Hale-Bopp and less a film flop.

40. Splenda has always been a sweet option in the U.S.

41. The Atlanta Braves have always played at Turner Field.

42. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.

43. Humans have always had implanted radio frequency ID chips—slightly larger than a grain of rice.

44. TV has always been in such high definition that they could see the pores of actors and the grimaces of quarterbacks. 

45. Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith have always been Men in Black, not their next-door neighbors.

46. The proud parents recorded their first steps on camcorders, mounted on their shoulders like bazookas.

47. They had no idea how fortunate they were to enjoy the final four years of Federal budget surpluses.

48. Amoco gas stations have steadily vanished from the American highway.

49. Vote-by-mail has always been the official way to vote in Oregon.

50. ...and there has always been a Beloit College Mindset List.


In fairness to the class of 2019 the following are a few of the expressions from their culture that will baffle their parents, older friends, and teachers …with translations.

1. They need to plan ahead so they don't find themselves "dankrupt."

One of a variety of painful declarations that we are out of weed. 

2. A heavy dose of "Natty Light" has always caught up with them in the morning.

It may taste great and be less filling, but there are limits. 

3. As long as they can find a ballpoint pen they can use their "redneck teleprompter." 

The bigger the back of your hand, the more notes you can include, but don’t get caught looking. 

4. "Smartphone shuffles" have always slowed down traffic between classes. 

One can avoid all eye contact as one moves through the madding texting crowd.

5. "Vatican Roulette" has always been risky but acceptable. 

If you’ve got rhythm and like your planning natural, then Vatican Roulette is the game for you.

6. A significant other who is a bit "too Yoko Ono" has always created tension.   

A partner too hard to handle…hard for your friends to compete with perfection.

7. “Quiche” has everything to do with hot and nothing to do with food.

Turn down the heat. Some people are just so hot they enhance the appetite.

8. “Trolling” innocents on social media has always been uncharitable.  

Cynical and bullying attacks on happy campers, preserved on the internet, may come back to haunt you.

9. They'll know better than to text their professors "TL DR" about assignments

…and just hope their professor doesn’t scribble back to them, about their own papers: “TOO LONG: DIDN'T READ.” 

10. Slurring “textroverts” have always been a fact of social life.

If you're too drunk to say it face to face, you probably should wait until morning before you start texting. 

Copyright© 2015 Beloit College

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  • Thanks for posting this. Pretty surprising, as always (at least to this old guy).

  • ...First off all , I'd like to preach on this a little ~ For myself , the way that this list has been put to use , perhaps the way it was intended , granted , has annoyed me ~ It seems to have been interpreted as meaning " Thou shalt bow to the KWELLESST younger generation ever by never referring to anything (that the Beloit List says) they never heard of !!!!!!!!!!! (With Prince's " New Power Generation " playing in the background...) .

      And how about someone ~ even , a standard-aged college freshman of 2015 ~ who grew up not that well off/a little in the backwoods/isolated ? Maybe they didn't have Wi-Fi all the time ! Frankly , even in America , even to this day , I believe.........I'm not too sure about that " never licked a postage stamp" , either , even presuming that means " legal U.S. postage stamps "...

      The part about color pictures on the NY Times prompts a memory of mine , but I haven't the time to " write " at length here...

  • ...I meant " perhaps NOT the way it was intended , granted " , not the " One EXTREMELY Important Word Omitted " (like " Guilty/Not Guilty " ?) (oEiwo " ?)way that I got posted above , I sowwy...I meant that I grant that the Beloit people may not have intended the BL to be used the (extremely annoying to me) way it was citedas being used , but...Oh , and " TL DR " = " Too Late , Drunk " ?

      The Tenderloin neighborhood here in San Francisco gets abbreviated " the TL "...........

  • In years past, the majority of the items used to be negatives (such as "They have never licked a postage stamp."). This list, I notice, is almost all positives ("they have always" rather than "they have never"). Once a negative list has been established, it would apply to all subsequent years, so I guess they had to switch to positives to make each year's list unique.

  • Yeah ... although I wonder why they keep bringing up the postage stamps?

  • That "Vatican Roulette" and "too Yoko Ono" are common idioms among young people I find hard to believe.

  • Emerkeith Davyjack said:

    ...First off all , I'd like to preach on this a little ~ For myself , the way that this list has been put to use , perhaps the way it was intended , granted , has annoyed me ~ It seems to have been interpreted as meaning " Thou shalt bow to the KWELLESST younger generation ever by never referring to anything (that the Beloit List says) they never heard of !!!!!!!!!!! (With Prince's " New Power Generation " playing in the background...) .

    Well, it is coming from a college with the intention of connecting with its constituency. But I think it's meant to be an aid to communication, by pointing out the "common" wisdom is different than it was, because so, so much has changed.

    In that vein, I saw an article a while back that pointed out that our generation is the last to know what life was like before the Internet. So today's kids really do have a different experience in the world.

    Like, today's comic book fan hardly has to look high and low in used bookstores and flea markets and comics shows to find back issues, as most old storylines are collected in trade paperbacks and sold online on Amazon or eBay ... or are availably digitally from Comixology or the publisher's website.

    And on and on. 

  • ...Well , yeah , I think it was not that much aimed at 17/18-yr old college students themselves , more - Really , I guess I should try and find how it started , but - presumably , was it a " guide " for staff at Beloit ?

      I don't really want to come off younger person-bashing , I will say that: (1) Popular idioms stay even after their inspiration/literal base may change/become less common/go away ~ (2) As for the 17/18-yr olds , I will say this , if they're smart enough (book-smart , anyway) to get into college , they also MUST NOT HEAR ANYTHING that refers to - gasp - something older ?????????

      Again , my annoyance here has much , I guess , to do with the spin that simplified news outlet re-reporting of the Beloit list put (In my interpretation) upon it .

  • Emerkeith Davyjack said:

    , .....they also MUST NOT HEAR ANYTHING that refers to - gasp - something older ?????????

    It's not so much that they must not hear something but that if they hear it they may not understand it. If the goal is to communicate it helps if the speaker and the listener both understand the terms used.

    I keep hearing people on TV use the phrase "like a broken record." I think it has stuck in such a way that even young people understand what is meant even if they have never experienced a real "broken record."

  • ...Well , yes , your second paragraph shows that some idioms stay around after their inspiration is no longer in the mainstream .

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