Welcome to the Freshers of 2018

Every year, Beloit College in the US prepares The Mindset List, which lists the cultural influences and landmarks that distinguish those starting at University each year. Unfortunately, good as the Beloit version is, it is rather US-centric (and why not, it’s a US college). So let’s think about what marks out students starting their University life in Britain this autumn.

This year’s freshers are, of course, the first to be born in the Twenty-first Century(1), so they’re a fairly special bunch. In fact, almost the very definition of millennial.

So, hello, millennials, this is for you!

Firstly, you will probably have little idea what the Millennium Bug was, or why it was such a big deal. Don’t worry, it all worked out fine in the end.

You will have no idea who Harold Shipman was, or why you should have worried if he wrote you a prescription.

You will have no idea what a “dirty protest” was, or why they happened in the Maze Prison,, because its last prisoners left in the year you arrived in the world.

Sony launched the Playstation 2.

India’s population passed a billion.

You will never have seen Concorde in flight In the flesh.

Or seen someone called Clinton as President.

David Tomlinson, Hedy Lamarr, Walter Matthau, Roger Vadim(2) , cricketers Brian Staham and Colin Cowdrey, footballers Sir Stanley Matthews and Wilf Mannion, theatre greats Sir John Gielgud and Sir Alec Guinness, and the political journalist Sir Robin Day (who made Jeremy Paxman look like Lorraine Kelly) all died. But it wasn’t all bad: so did Dame Barbara Cartland, and we didn’t have to read any more of her awful books.

You will not have lived in a world where both Kray Twins were still alive. or where Michael Caine wasn’t a knight. You’ll never have seen Kirsty MacColl in the flesh, nor watched a Royal Variety Performance containing Victor Borge. You will never know living in the world before the Star Wars prequels, and the disappointment when they finally arrived; you will never quite get why we hate Jar Jar so very much.

Charlie Brown took his final bow as the last orignal Peanuts comic strip was published, shortly before the death of its creator, Charles M Schultz.

You have never been able to buy a brand new Mini (not the thing BMW make, but the real one), or visit the original Wembley Stadium.

Big Brother has always been there (though perhaps not for much longer now), as have Charlie and Lola, and Dora the Explorer.

A student beginning their education in the year 2000 could expect to pay yearly tuition fees of £1000, with the mean annual income of £27k, compared to today’s £32k or so). How times have changed…


(1) A note to all pedants who will say the third millennium began technically began on January 1, 2001: yes, I know, but most people look at when that all important first digit changes from 1 to 2, so that’s the way we’re going here. Perhaps you might consider a hobby. Or a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend. Whatever; the choice is yours.

(2) No, you won’t have seen Barbarella either, but you should make a point of watching it. It’s where Duran Duran get their name. What do you mean, you don’t know what Duran Duran is?