“AYearintheLife” Photo Credits: Kristine Kearns
You probably haven’t ordered your 2021/22 yearbook yet — and I’m here to tell you why you should, even in a digital age. A 1942 Chieftain Yearbook is on sale right now for $4500. So if for no other reason, you might want to keep reading.
The 2021/22 Serpentine yearbook is a journal of (arguably) the most important year of your college career at WCU — the one where you receive recognition for some of the hardest years of work you’ve ever done. The diploma says you graduated, while the WCU Serpentine yearbook documents who you did it with, and how we made it through as a community. If you send in your personal photos, you can even guide what gets featured in the book.
The book is a valuable networking tool for the future since it provides instant connection to anyone who was on campus at the same time. In a digital age, where we are battered with media and the search engines are wading through more and more, a yearbook is a tangible reminder that we weren’t just on our computers, we were living life.
The book becomes more important as the years pass as your parents may have told you already. When they open their book now, years after they graduated from college, they get a rush of endorphins. So if your parents have asked you if you want one — say YES!
A yearbook can also skyrocket in value financially as well. If someone famous ends up coming out of your University, your book becomes more than a personal sentimental journey, it becomes every number one fan’s most sought after keepsake. With only a few hundred books sold every year, some yearbooks even become rare collectibles — like that 1942 Chieftain book! It’s the first and last yearbook that ever featured a photo of Marilyn Monroe.
We may not have Marilyn’s first published photo in the book this year, but who knows who might be the next icon? Also, this year’s Serpentine is going to be a chronicle of 150 years of college history! So it’s going to be a standout memory of over a century of memories and probably the most “famous” WCU book ever.
Sure you can wait till the book gets digitized, or hope that the library hard copy is available when you need it. Go check right now, though, and you’ll find that the library is about a decade behind in scanning past books. It may be another decade before they have the time or a grant to let them do it again.
Even when all Serpentines are digitized, though, the book is created to be in your hands right now. You are supposed to write in it, make your personal notes in it, share it with friends for their notes about you, and stuff it with other keepsakes (your graduation program, tassel, etc). Your personal copy of the book will be the ONLY history book that documents those friendships — but only if you order one before you graduate and then take the time to stuff it full of personal thoughts.
Memory is a funky thing. We remember some things and we don’t remember others. Science has proven that looking back through old photos helps to solidify memory. Looking through the book every now and then will help to solidify some of those memories that were so amazing in the moment, but that may fade if you don’t look back right now and pin them in your mind.
Sure, you took a lot of photos last year, and all through college — but take it from me after trying to find something on my camera this week. If you didn’t create a great organizational system, finding that “perfect moment” is going to just get more difficult in the future. The internet is so large and it’s going to fill up with a million things so that you won’t be able to find anything. You may eventually wonder, “hey does my college still sell my old yearbook…” And they won’t — because only a certain number gets printed and once people get them they are gone.
Digital photos get lost easier than hard copy books. USB drives can go bad, or disappear. An old computer drops dead and you didn’t back up the drive. We don’t know how long our computer is going to last. We do know that they frequently fail without warning. Find me a good windows machine from the 1990s that is still working perfectly. All that lost data is irretrievable. But I can hand you a yearbook from 100 years ago if you stop by the Serpentine office. Those pictures look the same now as they did when they were printed in the book all those years ago, and I know exactly where they are.
Having a yearbook in your small box of school keepsakes won’t be something you regret — even if you don’t open it again for another 20 years. If you don’t have one, though, you may find a moment when you wish that you did. With only a small printing for each yearbook every year, a hard copy of the 2021/22 yearbook will be hard to find in 2042. Your copy is available right now though, at www.balfour.com.
Lionel Phoenix McCulloch is a Junior, double majoring in Media and Culture/Theatre with minors in Computer Science and French.