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Class of 2015: So young, Ferris could be their dad

The current freshmen entering college who will make up the Class of 2015 have no remembrance of what life was like before the Internet, what this whole Communist Party fuss was about in Russia and that Amazon was once just known as a river in South America. Ferris Bueller could technically be their dad at this point, and they probably don’t know the name of the bar where everybody knows your name.

It’s enough to make even those in their thirties feel ancient. It’s also part of the annual Beloit College Mindset List, which since 1998 has provided a look at the topics, cultural phenomena and more that will affect the lives of students entering college in the fall.

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The College Mindset List was created by former Beloit public affairs director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of Humanities Tom McBride to ensure the faculty would avoid out-of-touch references in their work and lectures. Compiled at www.mindsetmoment.com, the list has also served to illustrate the speed at which what was once current can become old in an instant. This year’s incoming class has no memory of the George Bush who once famously uttered, “Read my lips: No new taxes.’’ To them, he is just the elderly father of the George Bush who famously declared “Mission accomplished!’’ on an aircraft carrier when talking about operations in Iraq.

Text messaging has been a normal part of life, while dialing a phone (what's a dial?) sounds like something out of the Stone Age. The thought of O.J. Simpson running a football rather than running from the law is hard to fathom. Any story that starts to drag on gets cut short with a quick “yadda, yadda, yadda.’’ Below are the top 20 items from the list of 75 cultural touchtones compiled by Beloit College. Other highlights include “Dial-up is soooooooooooo last century!’’ “Music has always been available via free downloads,’’ and “Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.’’

In the sports world, “They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who?’’ At Mass, the presence of an altar girl merits a shrug. When it’s time to end that relationship, why do it in person when texting, Facebook, or MySpace will do the trick?The Top 201. There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway. 2. Ferris Bueller and Sloane Peterson could be their parents. 3. States and Velcro parents have always been requiring that they wear their bike helmets. 4. The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports. 5. There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships. 6. They “swipe” cards, not merchandise. 7. As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration. 8. Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter. 9. “Don’t touch that dial!”….what dial? 10. American tax forms have always been available in Spanish. 11. More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe. 12. Amazon has never been just a river in South America. 13. Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you're talking about LeBron James. 14. All their lives, Whitney Houston has always been declaring “I Will Always Love You.” 15. O.J. Simpson has always been looking for the killers of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. 16. Women have never been too old to have children. 17. Japan has always been importing rice. 18. Jim Carrey has always been bigger than a pet detective. 19. We have never asked, and they have never had to tell. 20. Life has always been like a box of chocolates.

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