Eye on Education

To Incoming College Freshmen, America’s Wealthiest Guy Has Always Been Bill Gates

For this year's college freshmen, Bill Gates has always been the country's richest man.

esparta / flickr

For this year's college freshmen, Bill Gates has always been America's richest guy.

When this year’s college freshmen see wire-rimmed glasses, their minds first flash to Harry Potter– not John Lennon.

They’ve probably never perused the Internet with web browser Netscape.

Joe Camel hasn’t been their gateway to smoking cigarettes.

The “pound” key on telephones? Yeah, that’s a #hashtag to them.

These points all come courtesy of Beloit College’s annual “mindset list,” released today as a gentle reminder of the experience gap between professors and the “typical” incoming college student.

The Wisconsin school has published the list since 1998.

According to the authors’ estimates, incoming students were most likely born in 1996.

Other notable claims on the list include:

  • Planes flew into the World Trade Center when they were in kindergarten
  • “Selfies” with celebrities are more desired than autographs
  • Ralph Nader’s always been on the hunt to become president
  • Women have always been playing basketball in the WNBA
  • “Everybody has always Loved Raymond”

But not everyone’s amused by the Beloit list.

“A person’s ‘mindset’ — their understanding of how the world works, their values and interests, and so on — tends to be shaped by things that happened to them once they developed an understanding of their social environment more sophisticated than a newborn’s,” one critic told Inside Higher Ed last year. “Things that happened ten or five or even one year earlier are going to be far more important to an 18-year-old than things than happened 18 years ago.”


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