The Older Faculty Mindset List

Beloit released its latest Mindset List, about the things that the current incoming class of first year students take for granted. These often focus on technology, and this year is no exception, as it includes items like these:

  • They are the first generation for whom a phone has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph and research library.
  • In their lifetimes, BlackBerry has gone from being a wild fruit to being a communications device to becoming a wild fruit again.
  • They have always been searching for Pokemon.
  • U.S. Supreme Court decisions have always been available at its website.
  • It is doubtful that they have ever used or heard the high-pitched whine of a dial-up modem.
  • Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.

This year, Robert Scherrer has provided a Mindset List about older faculty members. Here is a lengthy excerpt:

Here is your guide to the college years of a typical 50-something professor.

  • There was only one computer on campus. It was called “the computer.”
  • The computer administrators knew everyone’s password.
  • The computer crashed sporadically for no apparent reason. When it went down, everyone was out of luck.
  • There was only one phone company. It was called “the phone company.”
  • The phone company charged exorbitant rates for long-distance calls, so students saved money by calling home after 11 p.m. or on weekends.
  • Roommates shared a single phone provided with their room. It was connected by a cable to an outlet in the wall. The phone couldn’t talk.
  • The phone came with a phone book that listed telephone numbers, although most students memorized the numbers of their friends and relatives.
  • A student who was not in their room was impossible to reach on the phone.
  • Those who couldn’t afford to phone home could write letters, a precursor to email. These were hand delivered and took two to four days to arrive.
  • Booking a flight home required the services of an oracle called a travel agent, who alone had access to the inscrutable airline flight schedules.
  • Airplane tickets were printed on flimsy sheets of red carbon paper. If you lost your plane ticket, you were out of luck.
  • Students wrote papers on a mechanical word processor called a typewriter. At the end of every line, a bell would ring, signaling the student to slap the carriage holding the paper until it returned to the beginning of the line.
  • High-tech students owned electric typewriters. They could perform a carriage return with the press of a key.
  • Cutting and pasting required actual cutting and real paste.
  • Spell check was a dictionary.
  • Professors used stencils to produce handouts, which were printed in purple ink with a vaguely toxic odor.
  • A textbook cost less than a calculator.
  • A year at college cost less than a new car.

What would you add to the Mindset List about today’s new cohort of students? What do you wish those students knew about professors your age?

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  • Steven Pounders

    In 1983, I was one of those lucky first year college students with an electric typewriter. It was so advanced, in addition to the ink ribbon, there was a white-out ribbon. You could lock the white-out ribbon in place and type over the letters you wanted to “erase”.

  • jamesparson

    I don’t know where you went to school, but when I went, Textbooks cost more than what I would pay for a small tablet today. But could sell them back for 10% of what I originally paid for it.