August 22, 2012 / 12:52 AM / 8 years ago

Paper airline tickets, bound encyclopedias passe for new U.S. college students

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Incoming U.S. college students have never seen a paper airline ticket, like to watch television on almost anything but a television and consider exposed bra straps a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction, according to an annual list released on Tuesday.

“This year’s entering college class of 2016 was born into cyberspace and they have therefore measured their output in the fundamental particles of life: bits, bytes, and bauds,” said humanities professor Tom McBride and public affairs director Ron Nief of Beloit College in Wisconsin, who have prepared the “Mindset” list since 1998.

The 75 items on the list are said to represent the cultural touchstones that have shaped the lives of students entering college this autumn, most of whom were born in 1994.

“They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future, and are entering college bombarded by questions about jobs and the value of a college degree,” the pair wrote.

“(They are) the most tribal generation in history and they despise being separated from contact with friends. They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television, have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives, and can carry school books - those that are not on their e-Readers - in backpacks that roll.”

Most view former President Bill Clinton as an elder statesman, with no memory of his actual 1993-2001 presidency. For them, Kurt Cobain, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Richard Nixon have always been dead, the pair said.

“Michael Jackson’s family, not the Kennedys, constitutes ‘American Royalty.”

The adage “Too big to fail” has replaced the Vietnam War-era “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Ditzy blonde female characters have been replaced by “dumb and dumber” males, and history has always been available on a cable TV channel.

The incoming college students listen to music on CDs, DVDs, MP3s and downloads, not the car radio, although a significant percentage of them are already displaying some hearing loss, according to the list.

In their lifetimes, there have always been blue M&M candies, but no tan ones, “their folks have never gazed with pride on a new set of bound encyclopedias on the bookshelf,” and point-and-shoot cameras “are soooooo last millennium.”

The full list of 75 items is available at

Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney

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