Why I didn’t buy a class ring
Jostens is a company created to sell you useless garbage. This is not unique—most companies fit this description—but Jostens is conspicuous because of its place in college life. College life is filled with obvious gouging: tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition and room and board, hundreds of dollars to pay for textbooks, and exorbitant additional fees for things like parking. It is remarkable, then, that Jostens manages to run a grift so blatant that it sticks out in an academic world already filled with nickel and diming. I am speaking specifically of class rings.
Class rings are pointless and expensive. The cheapest ones listed on Jostens’ website for CNU are 594 dollars, although this can be reduced to the also unreasonable price of 409 dollars by opting to have the ring made of “Lustrium,” an alloy made of nickel and chromium. 409 dollars is an insane amount to spend on something with no actual function, unless you plan to use the signet to seal documents.
Naturally, then, class rings must be accompanied by significant marketing to convince college students—who almost invariably have little money and are very commonly racking up debt—that such a useless frivolity has some sentimental value. A grand ring ceremony marks the occasion, appealing to tradition to convince us that by paying an absurd amount of money for a frivolity we are joining a long line of people with hundreds of dollars to burn. (The Ring Tradition was first formalized in 2016.)
Class rings, supposedly, provide a means of showing school pride, and buying a class ring will serve to remind you of your time at CNU long after you’ve left. Perhaps it will, but after graduating I would hope most people would have plenty of reminders already: a degree, for one thing, but also thousands of dollars of debt.
I, personally, will have reminders in the form of my friends, who I hope will remain friends for life, and the things I have kept that I associate with them, none of which cost me 409 dollars. Small things, tokens, tied to memories and in-jokes and good times, carry far greater sentimental value to me than a tacky piece of jewelry with a marketing campaign around it.
My grievance with class rings is less with people who buy class rings and more with the people who sell them. There are people I respect who, for reasons unfathomable to me, have purchased class rings. I am far more annoyed with someone asking me to spend my money on something silly than I am with someone else who spends their own money in a frivolous way.
Why on earth, after giving Christopher Newport University an absurd amount of money over the course of four years, would I ever deign to spend more just for their name on a useless ring? Millennials have been accused of “killing” various industries, ranging from casual dining to diamonds to golf. The next industry to go should be class rings.
~Miller Bowe, Staff Writer~