Messiah College where I was meeting with the family of a young man who is a finalist for one of our top academic scholarships. Since the prospective student was interested in pursuing a degree in history, he had asked the Admissions Office staff if he could meet with the Chair of the History Department (me) before heading off to his scholarship interview. He and his parents dropped by my office around 1:45. (BTW, meeting with the department chair on a campus visit is always a good idea).
After going through a rather routine discussion about the requirements of the Messiah College history major, the transfer of AP credits, and the possibilities of pursuing a minor and studying abroad, the conversation took a major turn when the student mentioned that he was a fan of classic rock. He and his father asked me if I liked The Who. When I told them that I was more of a Springsteen fan, the family--mother, father, and son--erupted in laughter and excitement.
It turns out that the father of this prospective student was a former employee at The Stony Pony, the Asbury Park, NJ bar where Springsteen, members of the E Street Band, and other Jersey shore acts got their start. He had been to over 100 Springsteen shows, including the famous 1975 Bottom Line Shows in Greenwich Village. His son went to his first Springsteen show at age 3 and had been to seventeen others, including two of the last three shows that I attended. When I pointed to my poster of the Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. album cover that proudly hangs in my office, the mother was so excited that she got up to take a picture of it with her iPhone.
We spent so much time talking about Springsteen (they had also just read Peter Ames Carlin's Bruce) that the prospective student was almost late for his scholarship interview. The father asked if he could stay in my office to talk more Springsteen (by this point we had also identified a common interest in the New York Mets), but his wife made him go to the interview.
As the family left my office they mentioned that they were looking and praying for some type of "sign" that Messiah College was the right school for their son. It turns out that they interpreted our meeting as such a "sign."
Who would have ever thought that Springsteen fandom would be a useful tool for recruiting students to a Christian liberal arts college! I think the administration of Messiah College should foot the bill for my next Springsteen show. (I should probably add that it just might be this summer in Cardiff, Wales).