May 23, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 5

Looking back at the class of 2013's lifespan

Keep an eye out for the next Justin Bieber or Mark Zuckerberg at freshman orientation. Also, most of today’s class of 2013 entered college likely displaying some form of hearing loss.

The Beloit College Mindset List is an eye-opening read, showing how quickly time changes for students entering college. Beloit has been doing this since 1998, originally as an effort to remind its faculty about how dated some of their references were.

Scroll through the list and you’ll see that salsa has always outsold ketchup, the class has never used a card catalogue to find a library book and they have always had the opportunity to read books on an electronic screen.

In addition, there has always been a computer in the Oval Office. Keep in mind, most in the class of 2013 were born in 1991. As such, the late Margaret Thatcher was always a former prime minister of the United Kingdom. And, their version of the Green Giant has always been the movie character Shrek, not the tall guy in commercials pawning vegetables off to kids.

Looking back, some of the metaphors and sayings we use get caught up in the passage of time. For this year’s freshman class, there has always been a “Santa Clause.” That’s the 1990s movie with Tim Allen, not the generic term for the overly jolly stalker who, during Christmas, invades homes to drop off a gift for a child he has followed all year long. Furthermore, the term “The Twilight Zone” today doesn’t describe an excellent TV show, but rather likely serves as a warning sign that people are reading a Stephanie Meyer novel up ahead.

The Beloit College list also serves as a reminder of how fast our society is changing. Technology that we consider fresh and new today is going to be thought of as old and outdated only a few years from now. Something amazing like wireless Internet in the early 2000s is now commonplace and taken for granted.

Technology like 3D printing, just on the cusp of going mainstream could be outdated in 10 years’ time. Need a missing LEGO piece? Simply print out a new one. Want your own customized iPad cover? Give it a few minutes and you’ll have one hot off the presses.

While the Beloit list may cause some readers to realize just how fast time has passed, it can also serve as a reminder to the new college graduates to respect their past. Sure, society may be a bit different, but many fundamental parts of life remain the same.

And, we can all take a bit of pride in making some younger generation give a quizzical look to an older reference.

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