College Game Plan

The ‘Right Now’ Generation: Incoming College Freshmen Have Always Had DVRs

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

That's likely an easy question to answer for incoming college freshmen: "SpongeBob SquarePants." The majority of students entering college this year have grown up in a world where the beloved cartoon sponge, the mobsters from "The Sopranos," and the cocktail-sipping women of "Sex in the City" were the biggest TV icons of their defining years.

And because they've never known life without a DVR, they never had to miss an episode.

Most of this year's freshmen were born in 1998, according to the Beloit College "Mindset List," an annual project that analyzes the cultural influences on the lives of incoming college students. In their lifetime, the U.S. has always been at war, John Elway and Wayne Gretzky have always been retired, and a Bush or a Clinton has always been campaigning for the presidency.

Also of note for the incoming class: They have never seen billboard ads for cigarettes, the Kremlin has always been controlled by Vladimir Putin, and both India and Pakistan have always been nuclear powers.

And they're not known for their patience.

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"We have had the NOW generation," Beloit College said in its introduction to this year's list. "Get ready for the RIGHT NOW generation, entering college this fall."

The class of 2020 "cannot remember a time where they had to wait for anything," it added. They don't recall the days before eBay or iMacs. And if you're trying to reach them quickly, don't go the old-fashioned email route — these students are more likely to respond to texts, while ignoring emails.

Related: Read About Last Year's Mindset List

But they may have to wait for some things after they graduate, professor Tom McBride, one of the list's authors, said in the press release.

What Freshmen Know (And What They Don't) 0:55

"They know that they're going to have to wait for that first breakthrough job and getting their school loans paid off," McBride said. "They're an impatient generation learning how to be patient."

The Mindset List is aimed to bridge the gap between generations, according to its website. It provides a historical context for college faculty to understand and connect with their students.

The list has been released each August since 1988. See the entire Class of 2020 Mindset list here.