Here we go again. Colleges and universities are beginning a new academic year and bright-eyed freshmen embarking on a new chapter in life. There they will meet and be taught by who range in age from somewhat older than themselves to those who could be a half-century or so their senior.
That can lead to something of a generation gap. In order to make it easier for some of the more venerable teachers to understand the frame of reference of their new students, Beloit College -- as it has done since 1998 -- prepares what it calls a "Mindset List" of some of the things that differentiate the entering freshmen, most of whom were born in 1993, from almost all of their teachers and mentors.
The list is not compiled to poke fun, but is produced to help faculty and others bridge the sometimes bewildering differences between generations.
Here are highlights from the list for the current freshman class:
• Andre the Giant, River Phoenix, Frank Zappa, Arhur Ashe and the Commodore 64 have always been dead.
• There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.
• There have always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy ships.
• More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
• Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
• Life has always been like a box of chocolates.
• John Wayne Bobbitt has always slept with one eye open.
• Video games have always had ratings.
• The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.
• Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.
• Grown-ups have always been arguing about health care policy.
• Moderate amounts of red wine and baby aspirin have always been thought good for the heart.
• Sears has never sold anything out of a Big Book that could also serve as a doorstop.
• Electric cars have always been humming in relative silence on the road.
• Some of them have been inspired to actually cook by watching the Food Channel.
• They've often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace.
• Their parents sort of remember Woolworths as this store that used to be downtown.
• Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.
• Nurses have always been in short supply.
• Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantanamo.
It's all enough to make those of a certain age feel suddenly old.