Every year it comes out and observers are all a-twitter (or this year a-Twitter) over the Beloit College Mindset List, which supposedly tells us old fogeys what this year’s incoming freshman, born in the early ’90s, have known and what they haven’t known. I watch really intelligent people cite it all the time, which is a shame since it’s so flawed.
It is a clever concept, one that goes down easily among readers not particularly interested in research and accuracy. But then, among student-affairs professionals and journalists who also buy the bogus Millennial stereotype lock, stock and barrel, the Beloit Mindset List is easy candy.
So how is it sloppy or even downright wrong? Here are just a few things I spotted on first glance:
41. Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
Rebuttal: Except for the two seasons he, you know, wasn’t coaching.
51. Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
Rebuttal: On what planet do classic rock stations play Britney Spears between the songs of Led Zepplin and Bob Seger?
52. They have never been Saved By The Bell.
Rebuttal: … except when it was running in syndication, which it always has since the original run. Oh, and then there’s Saved By The Bell: The New Class, which somehow ran from 1993 to 2000.
64. CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
Rebuttal: … except for the dozens of CDs released since the early ’90s I’ve purchased in cardboard packaging.
70. Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
Rebuttal: Dan Quayle was vice president when this year’s freshman were born. Nuff said.
Look, we don’t stand for shoddy research or half-baked answers within our academic halls. So why do we flock to — and venerate — such flawed pronouncements from our peers? If a student turned in such lazy work, what self-respecting professor would give it an A?
If you want to know your students’ mindset, here’s a novel idea: TALK TO THEM! I’ve found incoming freshmen ready, even eager, to discuss what they like and dislike, their concerns, their hopes and dreams. Real conversations will let you learn much more than the Beloit Mindset List’s simple, sloppy view of history ever would.