As classes resume this fall, take a good look at those first-year students armed with their laptops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones. They are the first college freshmen to grow up taking the word "online" for granted, say Ron Nief and Tom McBride, the minds behind the annual Beloit College Mind-Set List.
Mr. Nief, who was the college's longtime director of public affairs and is now retired, wrote in an e-mail on Monday that the Class of 2015 is "the symbolic generational start of a revolutionary adjustment in the systems and processes on which so much of society is built today."
Most members of this year's freshman class were born in 1993, the year Mosaic was introduced as the first widely used Web browser, the year Time magazine declared, "Suddenly the Internet is the place to be," and the year The New Yorker ran what is said to be its most reproduced cartoon ever, the one with the caption, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."
Mr. Nief and Mr. McBride, who is a professor of English and the humanities, have compiled the list since 1998, to help educators understand the cultural touchstones that have shaped the worldviews of each successive year of college freshmen.
Members of the Class of 2015, the pair says, "have come of age as women assumed command of U.S. Navy ships, altar girls served routinely at Catholic Mass, and when everything from parents analyzing childhood maladies to their breaking up with boyfriends and girlfriends, sometimes quite publicly, have been accomplished on the Internet."
July marked the release of the two men's first book together, The Mindset Lists of American History (John Wiley & Sons), which demonstrates how historical events have affected the mind-sets of each successive generation of Americans since 1880.
Following is this year's full list, which can be found online at http://www.beloit.edu/mindset.
Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arthur Ashe, and the Commodore 64 have always been dead.
Their classmates could include Taylor Momsen, Angus Jones, Howard Stern's daughter Ashley, and the Dilley Sextuplets.
1. 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 required 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 some U.S. Navy ships.
6. They "swipe" cards, not merchandise.
7. As the students have grown up on Web sites and cellphones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
8. Their schools' "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.
21. They've always gone to school with Mohammed and Jesus.
22. John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
23. There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.
24. "Yadda, yadda, yadda" has always come in handy to make long stories short.
25. Video games have always had ratings.
26. Chicken soup has always been soul food.
27. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
28. Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.
29. Arnold Palmer has always been a drink.
30. Dial-up is soooooooooo last century!
31. Women have always been kissing women on television.
32. Their older siblings have told them about the days when Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera were Mouseketeers.
33. Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.
34. They've always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with "Been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt."
35. The bloody conflict between the government and a religious cult has always made Waco sound a little wacko.
36. Unlike their older siblings, they spent bedtime on their backs until they learned to roll over.
37. Music has always been available via free downloads.
38. Grown-ups have always been arguing about health-care policy.
39. Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
40. Sears has never sold anything out of a "Big Book" that could also serve as a doorstop.
41. The United States has always been shedding fur.
42. Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road.
43. No longer known for just gambling and quickie divorces, Nevada has always been one of the fastest-growing states in the Union.
44. They're the first generation to grow up hearing about the dangerous overuse of antibiotics.
45. They pressured their parents to take them to Taco Bell or Burger King to get free pogs.
46. Russian courts have always had juries.
47. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
48. While they've been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.
49. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.
50. Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
51. Fidel Castro's daughter and granddaughter have always lived in the United States.
52. Their parents have always been able to create a will and other legal documents online.
53. Charter schools have always been an alternative.
54. They've grown up with George Stephanopoulos as the Dick Clark of political analysts.
55. New kids have always been known as NKOTB.
56. They've always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe; Michael Who?
57. They've broken up with significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.
58. Their parents sort of remember Woolworths as this store that used to be downtown.
59. Kim Jong-il has always been bluffing, but the West has always had to take him seriously.
60. Frasier, Sam, Woody, and Rebecca have never cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during prime time.
61. Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild-card entry in the playoffs.
62. Nurses have always been in short supply.
63. They won't go near a retailer that lacks a Web site.
64. Altar girls have never been a big deal.
65. When they were 3, their parents may have battled other parents in toy stores to buy them a Tickle Me Elmo while they lasted.
66. It seems the United States has always been looking for an acceptable means of capital execution.
67. Folks in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have always been able to energize with Pepsi-Cola.
68. Andy Warhol is a museum in Pittsburgh.
69. They've grown up hearing about suspiciously vanishing frogs.
70. They've always had the privilege of talking with a chatterbot.
71. Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantánamo.
72. Women have always been Venusians; men, Martians.
73. McDonald's coffee has always been just a little too hot to handle.
74. "PC" has come to mean personal computer, not political correctness.
75. The New York Times and The Boston Globe have never been rival newspapers.