David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Box o' Memories

August 14, 2011: Box o' Memories

Inspired by the news of The Gathering Storm, a new box set of music, videos and other trinkets from the band James, I've come to realize that this is a model for higher education.

For those unclear on the box set concept in popular music, it is a way to tap into the market of a musical act's obsessive fan base, who are likely to have already purchased every recording by their favorite artist.  Musicians and bands unearth rare concerts, song demos, rare tracks, early recordings (often under an earlier name), badges, stickers, t-shirts, and backstage passes.  The box set will usually contain three to five cd's, plus all these other whatnot, and will be offered for anywhere from $40 to $100.  The infatuated fan wastes no time buying the box set, often getting a special deal by being one of the first to order or by being an official member of the fan club. (For the record, pun intended, my check for The Gathering Storm is in the mail.)

So, box sets are what colleges and universities should offer their alumni, or, heck, even their drop-out students, much in the same way that some casual fans of The Police may just decide to plop $50 down for Message In A Box in an attempt to get up to speed on all Police songs in one fell swoop.  The University or College Box Set might offer any or all of the following:

  • A rare recording of your favorite stats teacher, replete with all his jokes about deviations, residuals and p-values;
  • The complete yellowed notes from that SOB accounting professor proving that what was on the test was never in the lectures (a copy of the original test, signed by the college registrar, will also be included);
  • A list of all the courses you took that are no longer offered for credit, such as those courses on BASIC programming;
  • An audiotape of the big football game from your senior year (smaller colleges could include audiotapes from the big basketball game, soccer game, or hammer throw);
  • A facsimile of your original meal pass, complete with $25 credit that you can redeem the next time you are on campus;
  • Copies of the letters of recommendation written by your professors.  You can see what they really said about you;
  • Pictures from parties that may or may not show you in embarrassing situations;
  • A map of the college town highlighting all the places where you lived, the bars you frequented, and the bowling alleys you frequented;
  • A letter of authenticity signed by every president of the institution since you graduated;
  • The blue book essay you turned in for Freshman Composition, signed by your original T.A., including his/her taxi number.  Free rides for life in their taxis.
  • All of this beautifully displayed in an extra large pizza box from your favorite late-night pizza joint.

I tell you this can't miss.   I'm writing West Virginia University right now asking for mine.  I hear the first 500 of us get all our old parking tickets wiped off the books!