Class of 2017 Has Never Needed to Ask Directions
Beloit's annual exercise in making everyone over 18 feel archaic is out
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Aug 20, 2013 9:43 AM CDT
The class of 2017 has never needed to ask directions, thanks to GPS.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you've never asked directions, never had chicken pox, and tend to share everything, you could probably impersonate a member of the Class of 2017, according to Beloit College's annual Mindset List. Class members were mostly born in 1995, and they're very tech-savvy; indeed, "a third of the list has to do with technology," says former college public affairs director Ron Nief, who compiled the list with Prof. Tom McBride.

McBride points out that class members "are multicultural—they have a shared notion of national identity." What's more, "they have non-sectarian views; they have an ecumenical sense of spirituality," he tells USA Today. He and Nief make the list by perusing media for standout events and trends; they also get tips on Facebook. A few highlights:

  • You might see LL Cool J or Eminem at parents' weekend, since they had kids in 1995.
  • News has been crawling across the TV screen as long as '17ers have been crawling themselves.
  • Getting a cell phone may be a bigger rite of passage than getting a car.
  • Chatting doesn't require talking.
  • Concerts they've seen have never been filled with cigarette smoke.
Here's the full list; or head over to Salon, where Daniel D'Addario takes down some of its more ludicrous contentions (See: "The Pentagon and Congress have always been shocked, absolutely shocked, by reports of sexual harassment and assault in the military.") as well as its superficial tendency to focus "on technology as the primary if not sole determinant of how people live life." His full piece is worth a read.

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Aug 21, 2013 10:27 AM CDT
They never ask for direction? What a joke! I see 15-30 year old's all day long walking around looking for offices, buildings or tourist attractions, while staring at their i-phone maps. then they look up and ask me where the place is, because I'm an adult. They still don't know how to read maps, or how streets are laid out in cities, so they can find a place by street address, even with GPS. They even show me the GPS map, and they can't figure out which way is up...
Aug 20, 2013 12:15 PM CDT
Trying not to be to "generational warfare" but its very hard to do. This is considering that when I went to Jr. High, we went on a trip to the wilderness. It was prior to going to high school. It was an 80-mile hike. The leader gave each of us a topo map. He gave each of us a place to go. We had to use the map and a compass to find the place he wanted us to go, retrieve an object, then return the next day.. It was a 24 hour task. Only one of the 10 hikers did not find their object. Each day, a new hike leader was designated. They were given a coordinate to reach each day. It meant stopping at high points on the trail and triangulating your location based on compass readings of known map features. The leader had to budget water, food, and abilities of the group (weakest link). We had a rule of not following a leader blindly. That meant all of us were supposed to also know our position at orienteering stops but we didn't have to discuss it outside of our buddy. You brought your own buddy so it was already your closest friend. My buddy happened to be a friend who went on to be a cartographer and now works as a GIS expert at a state agency. But we were both good at map reading. The trip leaders always hung back about 1/8 mile to let us do our thing (wow, do that today and they would get arrested.) So me and my bud knew where we were supposed to go as it was a marked mountain top on the map. We knew that it was very close and were were going to set up camp below it in a small saddle. That way we were not on top near lightning or too low for floods. We were right at that mountain and the trip leader wants to go on. We can't tell him that Forked Mountain is right freaking here. So, me and my buddy set up camp and let the other hikers go on. About 15 minutes later, the leaders show up and ask, "Where are the others? This is where I wanted us to camp so we could do some rock climbing tomorrow on Forked Mountain." I said, "Well, I knew it was the place but they insisted it wasn't so they went on." So, the group leaders set up camp next to us and we were out of our hike boots and into comfortable moccasins and just taking it easy in the beautiful Ouachita forest. Finally, about two hours later, the group shows up. They realized their error and turned back. I think about today's kids who use phones to navigate their every move. I then remember how many people have died from faulty navigation either from apps, web sites, or car devices. What comes to mind is the case of James Kin. A techie who died because of using a mapping web page incorrectly. Then three girls who died driving straight into a lake. There are dozens of other stories but one last one in my city where a lady is on trial for manslaughter. It was near a local mall where the city has put up barricades to prevent motorists from cutting off people from an interstate offramp. Colleen Argue says she put the mall in her navigation aid and was following it when it told her to "Turn right." She did that and cut off a motorcycle that was in the lane on her right and he died at the scene. Colleen Argue said she is not guilty because the navigation told her to make that move. State of Oklahoma case No. CM-2013-1524
Aug 20, 2013 11:24 AM CDT
It's sad to think the class of 2017 has never gotten lost. I have had many memorable adventures after getting lost. Plus it is a wonderful measure of one character, not the getting lost but how you handle yourself and how you solve your problem. But I guess no one in the future will ever have strife, loneliness or problems. sounds like a horrible way to live.