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Wisconsin's college freshmen never knew Soviet Union

BELOIT -- Colleges and universities this fall will welcome millions of freshman students who've only known two U.S. presidents, and for whom the Soviet Union has never existed.

Those are just a couple of the items on this year's "Mindset List." Beloit College puts it out in the fall as an example of the cultural world of most 18-year old freshmen.

Tom McBride is the list's co-creator, and a Beloit humanities professor. He says the list makes 36- and 46-year old instructors feel old and show how quickly the past 18 years have passed, and how quickly our culture turns over.

For example: most of this year's freshmen were born in 1988, and for them, there has only been one Germany, the Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway, carbon copies are among the relics in their grandparents' attics, and smoking has always been banned on commercial airliners.

McBride says it does seem like yesterday that people were lighting up in 747s.

McBride says the list began back in 1998, in place of a one that used to make its way around campus listing the things freshmen should know, but often don't.

He says the Mindset List helps Beloit's staff and faculty better connect with this year's new college students. He says there have been some studies trying to explain the fact that the older someone gets, the faster time seems to go by.

Many probably remember life before bar codes and minivans; this year's freshmen don't.