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Each fall, faculty members and administrators find themselves flummoxed when first-year students give them blank looks about some cultural reference that once seemed universal. To help out academics who are not quite as in touch with student culture as they once were, Beloit College publishes an annual mind-set list to promote understanding of the new students. (A Views essay today seeks to provide such a list about faculty members.)

Here is this year's list for the Class of 2021.

  • Their classmates could include Eddie Murphy’s daughter Zola and Mel Gibson’s son Tommy, or Jackie Evancho singing down the hall.
  • They are the last class to be born in the 1900s, the last of the Millennials -- enter next year, on cue, Generation Z!
  • They are the first generation for whom a phone has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph and research library.
  • Electronic signatures have always been as legally binding as the pen-on-paper kind.
  • In college, they will often think of themselves as consumers who’ve borrowed a lot of money to be there.
  • eHarmony has always offered an algorithm for happiness.
  • Peanuts comic strips have always been repeats.
  • They have largely grown up in a floppy-less world.
  • They have never found Mutual Broadcasting or Westinghouse Group W on the radio dial, but XM has always offered radio programming for a fee.
  • There have always been emoji to cheer us up.
  • The Panama Canal has always belonged to Panama and Macau has been part of China.
  • It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
  • They were never able to use a Montgomery Ward catalog as a booster seat.
  • Donald Trump has always been a political figure, as a Democrat, an Independent and a Republican.
  • Zappos has always meant shoes on the internet.
  • They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
  • Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
  • Their folks have always been able to get reward points by paying their taxes to the IRS on plastic.
  • In their lifetimes, BlackBerry has gone from being a wild fruit to being a communications device to becoming a wild fruit again.
  • They have always been searching for Pokemon.
  • They may choose to submit a listicle in lieu of an admissions essay.
  • Dora the Explorer and her pet monkey, Boots, helped to set them on the course of discovery.
  • The seat of Germany’s government has always been back in Berlin.
  • JetBlue has always been a favorite travel option, but the Concorde has been permanently grounded.
  • By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
  • There has never been a Coliseum in New York, but there has always been a London Eye on the Thames.
  • Once on campus, they will find that college syllabi, replete with policies about disability, nondiscrimination and learning goals, might be longer than some of their reading assignments.
  • As toddlers they may have dined on some of that canned food hoarded in case of Y2K.
  • An ophthalmologist named Bashar al-Assad has always provided vision for the Syrian military.
  • Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
  • U.S. Supreme Court decisions have always been available at its website.
  • Globalization has always been both a powerful fact of life and a source of incessant protest.
  • One out of four Major League Baseball players has always been born outside the United States.
  • Carl Sagan has always had his own crater on Mars.
  • A movie scene longer than two minutes has always seemed like an eternity.
  • The Latin music industry has always had its own Grammy Awards.
  • Ketchup has always come in green.
  • They have only seen a Checker Cab in a museum.
  • Men have always shared a romantic smooch on television.
  • They never got to see Jimmy Kimmel and Ben Stein co-host a quiz show or Dennis Miller provide commentary for the NFL.
  • As toddlers, they may have taught their grandparents how to Skype.
  • The image of Sacagawea has always adorned the dollar coin, if you can find one.
  • Having another child has always been a way to secure matching tissue to heal an older sibling.
  • There have always been Latino players on the ice in the NHL.
  • Napster has always been evolving.
  • Nolan Ryan has always worn his Texas Rangers cap in Cooperstown, while Steve Young and Dan Marino have always been watching football from the sidelines.
  • The BBC has always had a network in the U.S. where they speak American.
  • There has never been a sanctioned Texas A&M bonfire.
  • There has always been a Monster in their corner when looking for a job.
  • Wikipedia has steadily gained acceptance by their teachers.
  • Justin Timberlake has always been a solo act.
  • U.S. professional baseball teams have always played in Cuba.
  • Barbie and American Girl have always been sisters at Mattel.
  • Family Guy is the successor to the Father Knows Best they never knew.
  • Motorola and Nokia have always been incredibly shrinking giants.
  • Melissa has always been too nice a name to be attached to a computer macrovirus.
  • The Mars Polar Lander has always been lost.
  • Women have always scaled both sides of Everest and rowed across the Atlantic.
  • Bill Clinton has always been Hillary Clinton’s aging husband.
  • Archaeologists have always imagined dinosaurs with colorful plumage.

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