I was sitting in class the other day when I realized that engagements were almost as common as all-nighters on college campuses. After hearing the whispering about a girl in the class who got engaged over Christmas break, I started thinking about all the other girls I knew on campus who were now sporting diamonds from their frat boy cuties or business-school hotties. As engagement rings take over campuses, it’s clear that promise rings are becoming a thing of the past. But since when did getting a MRS over a BA become such an important focus?
We can easily blame everything on crazed moms, families who send their offspring to school to find her perfect match, or even a woman’s motives to find a husband in college. Some of the young brides-to-be tie the knot immediately after graduation, but some don’t wait another minute , and take their vows while they’re taking econ. And some college papers, such as public ivy Murray State University’s newspaper, have a section for engagement and wedding announcements, something that is usually left out of college newspapers. MTV even has a new show on the topic, “Engaged and Underage.”
Almost 50 years ago, talking about an engaged college-aged woman was normal. Many women even went to college just to find a mate, a la the Julia Roberts movie, Mona Lisa Smile. According to the United States Census, the average bride was 20 years old in 1960. Decades before that, women were getting married as young as 14. But in 2006, the most popular marriage age was between 25 and 35. As a nation, we’ve pushed back marriage by 5 to 20 years over the past 100 years.
But, college females are getting married now because they don’t want to wait. Even though they still get the looks of “wow” when people find out they’re betrothed and hear the whispers of people saying they’re not going to finish college, most still go through with their plans and even finish their degree.
More engaged students are graduating than in the past because of the unlimited support they get from their colleges or universities. Some campuses have on-campus apartments for students with spouses or children and various student health departments offer prenatal care for pregnant students. Even daycare is available on most campuses.
Either way, women who are agreeing to tie the knot earlier have it both easier and harder than ever. They have the people who will say they are too young, but also the universities and families who are willing to help them walk down the aisle.