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List charts college Class of 2016 culture, from digital to political

By Ed Payne, CNN
updated 8:11 AM EDT, Tue August 21, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Beloit College created the Mindset List, a look at freshman cultural views, in 1998
  • It reminds college professors not to use dated references
  • Freshmen know the Clinton name more as a secretary of state than a president
  • They've also grown up with many digital devices and instant celebrities, list says

(CNN) -- For incoming college freshmen this fall, former President Bill Clinton is an elder statesman and exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction, according to the Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2016.

The list was created by the Wisconsin school in 1998 to remind professors of the cultural factors that have gone into shaping the lives of their students.

While Clinton was a popular two-term president in the 1990s, most of today's freshmen have little knowledge of his administration, as most were born in 1994. The Clinton they're more likely to know is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former commander in chief's wife.

And for most of their lives, maintaining relations between the United States and the rest of the world has been a woman's job in the State Department, with Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Clinton serving as the nation's top diplomat.

Digital everything has always been a part of their lives -- be it music, movies or e-books.

Having grown up with MP3s and iPods, they seldom listen to music on the car radio and pretty much have no use for radio at all.

But listening to music with ear buds comes at a price. A quarter of the entering students already have suffered some hearing loss, the list says.

Then there's television. This year's crop of freshmen watch TV on their laptops, smartphones and iPads -- on everything except a television.

Technology started at an early age with this generation. A Furby with its interactive gibberish was likely a childhood friend. Tamagotchis -- the handheld digital pets -- would help them while away the time too.

The Class of 2014 has its own celebrities -- as every generation does -- but class members have lived in an era of instant stardom and self-proclaimed celebrities who were often simply famous for being famous.

In the world of sports, there has never been a NFL football team in Los Angeles during their lifetimes, but there's always been one in Jacksonville, the list points out. They missed the 1994 World Series, but so did everyone else because of a strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

And finally to the medicine cabinet, where their parents have always been able to grab an Aleve when their kids were giving them a migraine or now when its time to figure out how to pay the tuition bill.

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