Annual list from Beloit College provides insight into how things have changed.
MILWAUKEE - Remember when suitcases had to be carried instead of rolled? Or when an airline ticket was a booklet of pages separated by carbon paper?
This year's college freshmen don't.
They never lived in a world where Kurt Cobain was alive or an NFL team played its home games in Los Angeles. The Class of 2016 has no need for radios, watches television everywhere except on actual TV sets and is addicted to "electronic narcotics."
These are among the 75 references on this year's Beloit College Mindset List, a nonscientific compilation meant to remind teachers that college freshmen, born mostly in 1994, see the world in a much different way.
The students are also accustomed to seeing women in position of leadership. They came of age at a time when Madeleine Albright was serving as the first female U.S. secretary of state, and women have held the position for most of their lives.
And the old Hollywood stereotype of ditzy blonde women has given way to one of "Dumb and Dumber" males, according to the list.
"In general, there was always the complaint that it was too slow for women to get to positions of responsibility," said Ron Nief, one of the two Beloit College officials who compiles the list. "Now the question is, 'What took so long?'"
The compilation, released Tuesday, has been assembled every year since 1998 by Nief and Tom McBride, from the private school in southeastern Wisconsin. Over the years it has evolved into a national phenomenon, a cultural touchstone that entertains even as it makes people wonder where the years have gone.
The lists have begun attracting attention from government agencies, athletic organizations and other groups that want to know how the younger generation thinks. Nief and McBride will share their insights with employees of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in October.
This year's class includes students who might be bitter at the previous generation, Nief said. While their elders went to college in good times and had jobs waiting for them, these students grew up watching their parents worry about unemployment and foreclosures. But they also live in an era of potential. Gene therapy has always been available, and they don't waste time with outdated technologies like radios and point-and-shoot cameras.