What’s in students’ minds

From the 2012 freshman Mindset List, Robert De Niro (with Blythe Danner in “Little Fockers”) is thought of as Greg Focker’s father-in-law, not Vito Corleone or Travis Bickle.

If you’ve never seen an actual airline ticket (no, that’s not the same as a boarding pass), never mailed a first-class letter for less than 30 cents and never known Los Angeles to have a pro football team, then you might be a college freshman.

So says the latest Beloit College Mindset List, which attempts to summarize what members of the Class of 2016 know — and what they don’t — by referencing the cultural touchstones that have come and/or gone in their lifetime.

The list is a collection of references to pop culture (Justin Bieber and Dakota Fanning are their age), politics (a woman has run the U.S. State Department for much of their lives) and technology (their world has always existed in cyberspace).

Other points on the list also show the evolution of behavior. This year’s college freshman would likely think it strange for White House security to greet a group of gay elected officials by wearing rubber gloves, as happened during President Bill Clinton’s first term.

Beloit College English and humanities professor Tom McBride and former college Public Affairs Director Ron Nief have compiled the list annually since 1998. As for larger trends among this year’s college freshmen, McBride said one is clear. “They’ve come into their teenage years at a time when there are real doubts about America’s future, about whether America will continue to be a No. 1 power, about crushing debt, about recovery from the economic recession,” he said.

In the minds of the members of the Class of 2016, many of whom were born in 1994:

People don’t carry luggage, they roll it.

Kurt Cobain has always been dead.

“Star Wars” was always just a film, not a defense strategy.

There have always been blue M&M’s, but no tan ones.

See the full list at www. beloit.edu/mindset.