Beloit College Entering Freshmen List

Dan Drezner, who is nearly as old as I am, draws our attention to this year’s edition of Beloit College’s annual list reminding faculty members of how young 18 really is.

Some excerpts:

Most students entering college this fall were born in 1987.
1. Andy Warhol, Liberace, Jackie Gleason, and Lee Marvin have always been dead.
2. They don’t remember when “cut and paste” involved scissors.
19. Condoms have always been advertised on television.
39. American Motors has never existed.
54. They never saw the shuttle Challenger fly.
62. Tom Landry never coached the Cowboys.
70. Jimmy Carter has always been an elder statesman.
75. They have always been challenged to distinguish between news and entertainment on cable TV.

The original purpose of the list remains quite valid. It’s a struggle for even young professors in their mid-30s to remember that the memory of most of their students of political affairs and pop culture extends only four or five years.

College students are only dimly aware that there was another president named “George Bush” (Jan. 1993).

The 1991 Gulf War is further back in time now than the Vietnam War (1973 for the U.S.) was when I was a freshman.

O.J. Simpson never played football (1979) and, indeed, never got away with (1995) murder (1994).

My reaction to the 2003 Beloit list is here, along with a link to Scott Ott‘s.

FILED UNDER: Education, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He's a widower and father of two young daughers. He earned his PhD from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The 1991 Gulf War is further back in time now than the Vietnam War (1973 for the U.S.) was when I was a freshman.

    And the Vietnam War is further back in time from us than WWII was from the end of the Vietnam War (I probably should have worded that better – 1973 from 1945 vs. 2005 vs. 1973). For those that remembered the “good fight” of WWII in 1973 would find that their memory would have had less years to travel back to the end of WWII than someone today remembering the Vietnam war during our current War on Terror.


  2. Just Me says:

    I graduated in 1987, this makes me feel old.

    But I can see them not understanding. My younger daughter likes shoes quite a bit, and I made a joke about Imelda Markos-when she gave me a blank look, I realized she wasn’t even alive when Imelda Markos bought all her shoes.