Each August for over 11 years, Beloit College, Wisc. has released the Beloit College Mindset List. This provides a look at the cultural touchstones shaping the lives of students entering college in 2008.
As almost 2 million first-year students head to college campuses around the country, most will see some oddly familiar headlines. These are similar to those being published in 1990 when many of the students were born.
Some of the headlines include rising fuel cost concerns, airlines cutting staff and flights and declining American car sales.
The difference, according the Mindset list is the how different this generation of students are from those prior to 1990.
The class of 2012 has grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm. Most have seldom used telephones with landlines during their youth. They live on cell phones and communicate by texting one another.
Many will have a roommate for the first time in their lives and will have the opportunity to check out their new "roomie" on Facebook.com where most have been sharing their most personal thoughts with the whole world for several years.
This group of politically correct kids has never feared the Russians or known great performers like Sammy Davis, Jr., Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart or Dean Martin.
Since they were in diapers, they have been singing along to karaoke machines looking for Carmen Sandiego. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles. Gas stations haven't fixed flat tires but serve cappuccino.
A universal studio has always offered an alternative to Disney in Orlando. They have all read the book, "All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."
IBM has never made typewriters and electronic tax filing has been an option.
McDonald's and Burger King French fries have been cooked in vegetable oil. They never got to use a color called raw umber in the Crayola pack.
Jay Leno has always hosted the Tonight Show and Caller ID has been available on telephones.
Soft drink refills have been free and iced tea comes in bottles or cans. The Hubble Telescope has been scanning the heavens and Goosebumps books have been a staple.
Best of all on the list is that Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.
The Beloit College began publishing the list in 1998 to remind professors that references familiar to them might draw blank stares from students.
The new list was published Tuesday by the school. You can view it at www.beloit.edu/publicaffairs/mindset