(BELOIT, Wis.) -- Remember paper airline tickets? Or when you used to watch only TV on television, and listen to music solely on a radio?
In 1994, when this generation of incoming college freshmen was born, Kurt Cobain and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would die, Nelson Mandela would become president of South Africa, O.J. Simpson would be arrested and accused of murdering his wife and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV show would be a year away from ending its long run.
Each August since 1998, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. Co-created by Tom McBride and Ron Nief, the list has become a key look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college each fall.
This year’s list, released Tuesday, says Michael Jackson’s family -- not the Kennedys -- constitutes U.S. royalty to this generation of college freshmen. Those freshmen might never have seen a paper airplane ticket, and many of them will enter college with significant hearing loss, the list said.
Nief told ABC News Tuesday night that he and McBride conceived of the list to remind college educators of the need to keep their references current. Nief said there was a lot of discussion back then from older people who thought that younger folks were not as smart as they themselves had been when they were young.
“There were a lot of lists starting to show up on what was a relatively new thing at that point, the Web, and a lot of them were kind of mean-spirited. They involved ‘these kids aren’t very smart, they’re not as smart as I was.’ And we figured this was sort of baby boomer arrogance,” Nief said.
He and McBride were talking “and decided that it had nothing to do with the knowledge that these students had, it was the experiences in their lives, that they had a different set of experiences that made them different, and we started putting those things that had never been true for them, or had always been true that weren’t true for their parents, and we started to put this list together and it circulated,” he said.
Nief and McBride follow trends, scour media and talk to young people and their parents in order to come up with their lists every year. The list also has a Facebook page, which provides lots of valuable feedback from parents and their children.
“We hear almost daily from parents telling us about what we call mindset moments, about situations where they’re talking to their kids and suddenly realize they’re getting a blank stare back, that [the children] really don’t get what they’re talking about. On the other hand, we get notes from young people saying, ‘I wish my parents would stop calling my CDs ‘tapes,’” Nief added.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio