The Mind-Set List, Faculty Edition

Robert Scherrer provides a guide to the college years of a typical 50-something professor.

August 22, 2017
 
 
iStock/rustemgurler

Beloit College just published its annual Mind-Set List to remind professors of the ever-growing gap between their own cultural experiences and those of their incoming students. As a service to these new students, I am now providing the faculty version of the mind-set list. Here is your guide to the college years of a typical 50-something professor.

  1. There was only one computer on campus. It was called “the computer.”
  2. The computer administrators knew everyone’s password.
  3. The computer crashed sporadically for no apparent reason. When it went down, everyone was out of luck.
  4. There was only one phone company. It was called “the phone company.”
  5. The phone company charged exorbitant rates for long-distance calls, so students saved money by calling home after 11 p.m. or on weekends.
  6. Roommates shared a single phone provided with their room. It was connected by a cable to an outlet in the wall. The phone couldn’t talk.
  7. The phone came with a phone book that listed telephone numbers, although most students memorized the numbers of their friends and relatives.
  8. A student who was not in their room was impossible to reach on the phone.
  9. Those who couldn’t afford to phone home could write letters, a precursor to email. These were hand delivered and took two to four days to arrive.
  10. Booking a flight home required the services of an oracle called a travel agent, who alone had access to the inscrutable airline flight schedules.
  11. Airplane tickets were printed on flimsy sheets of red carbon paper. If you lost your plane ticket, you were out of luck.
  12. Driving home? The interstate speed limit was 55, but everyone ignored it.
  13. Campus movies on weekends were a major social activity. On a good weekend, a student could choose from as many as three different movies.
  14. Students wrote papers on a mechanical word processor called a typewriter. At the end of every line, a bell would ring, signaling the student to slap the carriage holding the paper until it returned to the beginning of the line.
  15. High-tech students owned electric typewriters. They could perform a carriage return with the press of a key.
  16. Cutting and pasting required actual cutting and real paste.
  17. Spell check was a dictionary.
  18. Professors used stencils to produce handouts, which were printed in purple ink with a vaguely toxic odor.
  19. A textbook cost less than a calculator.
  20. A year at college cost less than a new car.
  21. There was still hope for a Beatles reunion.
  22. The drinking age on many college campuses was 18.
  23. Pete Rose, O. J. Simpson and Martha Stewart had never been to prison.
  24. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an actor.
  25. Al Franken was a comedian.
  26. Donald Trump was a real-estate tycoon.
  27. Ronald Reagan was never an actor. I’m not that old.

Bio

Robert Scherrer is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Vanderbilt University.

Read more by

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

Back to Top