'Mindset List' Offers Glimpse of Class of 2018

PHOTO: Incoming freshmen take a tour of the Randolph-Macon College campus on July 13, 2014 in the town of Ashland, Virginia.
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If you have never asked a celebrity for an autograph -– preferring a selfie instead -- and do not recall the images of Sept. 11, because you were only 5, and think of the # sign as a hashtag and not the pound sign, then you might be part of the Class of 2018.

Beloit College has released its annual “Mindset List” reflecting what freshmen moving into college campuses this month and next are thinking.

Fair warning,the results may make you feel really (really) old.

Among the insights culled by the Beloit, Wisconsin, college’s list are from this year's freshman class -- most of whom were born in 1996 -- who have never lived in a world where rapper Tupac Shakur was alive and think of Harry Potter, not John Lennon, “when they see wire-rimmed glasses.”

The Class of 2018 also does not know a world without “The Daily Show,” Fox News and MSNBC, all of which went on the air in 1996. Nor do they know a world without cloning as a scientific reality, given that Dolly the sheep was famously cloned in 1996.

This group of freshmen does also not know a world where full seasons of TV shows are not just a click away, according to the List’s editors Ron Nief and Tom McBride.

“When you talk about this generation, they are already used to binge-watching TV shows, so will binge-watching become the new cramming for this generation?," Nief, who retired five years ago as Beloit College's director of public affairs, told ABC News. "Will they watch a semester's worth of lectures just before an exam?"

Nief and McBride, who retired this year as professor of English emeritus from the college, begin preparing the next year’s list, in this case for the Class of 2019, as soon as the previous List is released. They pore over everything from academic journals to pop culture to get their facts.

“Tom is the scholar, reading journals on technology and everything, and I spend my time searching the media from the time we’re talking about, 1996 in this case,” Nief said. “I read everything from Better Homes & Garden to The Wall Street Journal to Ad Age.”

“It’s almost like we start living in the year we’re talking about,” he said.

The pair produced the first list in 1998 as a way to help faculty members not make dated references in front of their students.

Nief says they receive thousands of comments each year from people who each find something different in the List that resonates with them.

For Nief, this year, it was the freshmen’s age during 9/11 that stood out most for him among the Class of 2018.

“The key one to me is that during their initial weeks of kindergarten, they watched repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center,” Nief said. “At the time there was a lot of talk about the repeated images and their impact on kids who couldn’t distinguish that it was repeat film and not new planes. “

“As a key point in their lives, it’s a critical moment and it came very early,” he said.

Click HERE to read the full list.

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