Beloit College attempts to help academics each summer with its “Mindset
reflect what the latest class of freshmen will have experienced — and
what they may have no personal knowledge of. This year’s list follows,
as prepared by Tom McBride, professor of humanities at the college, and
Ron Nief, emeritus public affairs director. The list is based on the
assumption that most students entering college for the first time this
year were born in 1991, meaning — the list reminds us — that for these
students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr.
Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and
Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
Here’s the list:
1. Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been
2. The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking
3. They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
4. Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
5. Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
6. Earvin “Magic” Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
7. Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
8. They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
9. Rap music has always been mainstream.
10. Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor
11. Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis
(née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
12. The KGB has never officially existed.
13. Text has always been hyper.
14. They never saw the “Scud Stud” (but there have always been
electromagnetic stud finders.)
15. Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
16. They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
17. Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
18. They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
19. American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes
20. Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
21. State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
22. The European Union has always existed.
23. McDonald’s has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
24. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
25. Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and
26. Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
27. The American health care system has always been in critical
28. Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
29. Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin
30. There has always been a Cartoon Network.
31. The nation’s key economic indicator has always been the Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).
32. Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
33. They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
34. Women have always outnumbered men in college.
35. We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on
television in real time.
36. Brits have always owned The New York Daily News.
37. Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
38. Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia,
Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
39. It’s always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of
40. Madonna’s perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
42. Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
43. Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on
44. There have always been flat screen televisions.
45. They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
46. Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a
Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
47. Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves
48. Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of
49. Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and
Commerce International (BCCI).
50. Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the
Evening News came on.
51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
52. They have never been Saved by the Bell.
53. Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
54. Most communities have always had a mega-church.
55. Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
56. The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of
57. Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.
58. There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
59. For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in
60. Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.
61. “Womyn” and “waitperson” have always been in the dictionary.
62. Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks
balanced since the closing of the House Bank.
63. There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
65. Avon has always been “calling” in a catalog.
66. NATO has always been looking for a role.
67. Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.
68. Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been
69. The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.
70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
71. Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.
72. Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and
compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
73. Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
74. Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
75. There has always been blue Jell-O.