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Ocean City High School graduate T.J. Gilhooley has moved on to Princeton University. Egg Harbor Township’s Lola Agabalogun is at Harvard. Holy Spirit’s Sally Widman attends George Mason. Doug Schwartz of Middle Township is enrolled at Montclair State University. Angela Hood of Cedar Creek is at Widener. Mainland’s Christina Donall is attending classes at Towson. Colleen Callahan of Atlantic City traveled to the University of Tennessee. And Dan Smith of Oakcrest has moved on to Delaware Valley.
Thousands from this area have just moved on to the next step in their educational process. Things will be different for them for the next four years. But, as the people at Beloit College in Wisconsin point out, things have always been different for them.
Each August since 1998, Beloit has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at how cultural changes have shaped the lives of students entering college that fall. It was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. But it quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.
As for the class of 2017, they were less likely to get the chicken pox, but are glad they can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until they are 26. They are going on to college, but they might wonder how important that degree is if they are admirers of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Here are some of their life experiences – putting them in a far different place than previous generations.
Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.
They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
As they started to crawl, so did the news across the bottom of the television screen.
“Dude” has never had a negative tone.
Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
Gaga has never been baby talk.
They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger.
PayPal has replaced a pen pal as a best friend online.
Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phone and Skype accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car.
A tablet is no longer something you take in the morning.
Threatening to shut down the government during federal budget negotiations has always been an anticipated tactic.
The Pentagon and Congress have always been shocked, absolutely shocked, by reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military.
Capt. Janeway has always taken the USS Voyager where no woman or man has ever gone before.
Courts have always been ordering computer network wiretaps.
Jurassic Park has always had rides and snack bars, not free-range triceratops and velociraptors.
Thanks to Megan's Law and Amber Alerts, parents have always had community support in keeping children safe.
With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
Java has never been just a cup of coffee.
The U.S. has always imposed economic sanctions against Iran.
Smokers have always been searching for their special areas, which have been harder to find each year.
They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena.
There has never been a national maximum speed on U.S. highways.
Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
Kevin Bacon has always maintained six degrees of separation in the cinematic universe.
They may have been introduced to video games with a new Sony PlayStation left in their cribs by their moms.
A Wiki has always been a cooperative web application rather than a shuttle bus in Hawaii.
They have always been able to plug into USB ports.
Washington, D.C., tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.
Being selected by Oprah’s Book Club has always spelled “success.”
Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.
New York’s Times Square has always had a splash of the Magic Kingdom in it.
Bill Maher has always been politically incorrect.
They have always known that there are “five hundred, twenty five thousand, six hundred minutes" in a year.
This is the world that the Class of 2017 brings to their college experience.
Words of Wisdom: “Progress isn't made by early risers. It's made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
– author Robert A. Heinlein
MORE COLUMNS BY TOM WILLIAMS