One of my favorite clips from the classic and still funny “Friends” TV show is when “Pomp and Circumstance” is played and Phoebe says, “Oh, the Olympics.” Known the world over as the official “graduation march,” the beloved orchestration is officially called “The Pomp and Circumstance Military Marches” and is really a series of marches composed by Sir Edward Elgar. Performed as the processional tune at virtually all high school and college graduation ceremonies, it was first played at such a ceremony at Yale University on June 28, 1905 when Professor of Music Samuel Sanford invited his friend Elgar to attend commencement and receive an honorary doctorate of music.
As the class of 2017 high school earns their diplomas, they take with them traits unique to them. Every year since 1998, Beloit College conducts an in-depth study on high school graduates and compiles its popular “Mindset List.” The list offers a look at the cultural milestones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. I thought it would be fun to share the findings.
When the incoming class of 2017 arrives on college campuses across America (and beyond) this fall, most of them will be focusing on academic majors that lead to good-paying jobs and some of them will take a few courses taught at a distant university by a professor they never meet. Parents of these incoming freshmen are hoping for four-year degree plans, but odds are it will be longer than that, with the average college graduation being five years.
Born mostly in 1995, these students will use their smart phones in class to read assignments from that day or previous days, record the class and every minute of their college experience, and text and Tweet non-stop. Many of them idolize and admire Bill Gates and Steve Jobs but wonder whether a college degree is all it’s cracked up to be.
Here then, is this year’s “Mindset List” and other interesting tidbits:
For this generation of collegians, Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle, and Jerry Garcia have always been dead.
Eminem and LL Cool J could show up at parents’ weekend.
GM means Genetically Modified, not General Motors.
Chatting seldom involves talking.
Gaga has never been baby talk.
They have known only two presiding presidents.
PayPal has replaced a pen pal.
Rites of passage have more to do with having their own cell phones and Twitter accounts than with getting a driver’s license and car.
The U.S. has always been trying to figure out which side to support in the Middle East.
A tablet has never been something you swallow.
Plasma has never had anything to do with a bodily fluid.
Spray paint has never legally been sold in Chicago.
Planes have never landed at Stapleton Airport in Denver.
They have never had to rely on a physical map for directions.
The Olympics have always been every two years.
Smokers in California have never been able to smoke in public places.
They have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena or used lighters to light the place up.
Don Shula is simply a steak house chain.
They have never really needed to go to their friend’s house so they could study together.
They have never watched a Celtics game at Boston Garden.
Washington, D.C. tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.
The only “Cold War” and “Soviet Union” they are familiar with are from their history books.
Bottle caps have always been plastic and they have no idea what pull-top is.
They have no idea what “you sound like a broken record” means.
The original “Star Wars” is so fake.
Answering machines are so old-fashioned to them. The only know voice mail.
They have always had cable TV and remote controls.
Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.
They have no idea that Americans were held hostage in Iran but they do know the U.S. have imposed economic sanctions against Iran for their entire life.
They prefer to watch television everywhere except on a television.
They have seen a woman lead the U.S. State Department for most of their lives.
They seldom listen to the car radio.
If they miss any TV show or video, they can always watch it on YouTube or DVR.
They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
Exposed bra straps have always been a fashion statement, not a wardrobe malfunction to be corrected quietly by well-meaning friends.
A significant percentage of them will enter college already displaying some hearing loss.
They have come to political consciousness during a time of increasing doubts about America’s future.
Probably the most tribal generation in history, they despise being separated from contact with their similar-aged friends.
The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
Amazon has never been just a river in South America.
Refer to LBJ, and they might assume you’re talking about LeBron James.
They’ve always gone to school with a Mohammed or Abdul.
They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.
So good luck graduates. Continue to dream big, work hard, and enjoy life. Remember to do what you love and love what you do and to make not just a living, but a life.