The Class of 2017: Young enough to be children of Eminem or LL Cool J

August 21, 2013

Many college campuses will soon turn into traffic-clogged unloading zones as the latest wave of freshmen move into the dorms for the coming school year. The Class of 2017 was mostly born in 1995 — making them young enough to be the children of Eminem and LL Cool J.

Feel old yet? Well, take a read through the latest “Mindset List” compiled by two professors at Beloit College in Wisconsin. The annual list, now in its 15th year, aims to introduce instructors to the young students who will soon fill their classrooms — and who might not get references to 1980s and ’90s television shows. Or, more likely, who might become frustrated with a professor who doesn’t post class materials online.

“These are digital natives — we know that,” said Ron Nief, an author of the list and the emeritus director of public affairs at Beloit College. “But there’s more than that. They have got a tremendous confidence in the electronic world that they live in.”

The list has been criticized over the years for stereotyping college students and over-generalizing. A Salon writer concluded this week that the list is condescending, bizarre and “deeply hung up on technology as the primary if not sole determinant of how people live life.” Two anonymous professors launched a blog called Beloit Mindlessness that aims to destroy the list because it “is a poorly written compendium of trivia, stereotypes and lazy generalizations, insulting to both students and their professors, and based on nothing more than the uninformed speculation of its authors.”

Here are a few of the items on this year’s list, which you can read in full on Beloit’s Web site:

* In their first 18 years, they have watched the rise and fall of Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez.

* With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.

* They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena.

* Smokers in California have always been searching for their special areas, which have been harder to find each year.

* Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.

* They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.

* They have always been able to plug into USB ports.

* Being selected by Oprah’s Book Club has always read “success.”

* Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe.

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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