Between making new friends who become family, striving to maintain a respectable GPA and grappling with numerous responsibilities, which come with living away from home, the first year of college is quite an alarming experience. But, even more alarming than these life-altering adjustments are the lingering thoughts of relationships and diamond rings constantly looming over the heads of students at many Christian universities.
Though I heard a few remarks about “finding a good Christian man” or “practicing dating in a safe environment” before coming to school, I did not expect to jump straight into husband-hunting as if I were not only 18 years old. Coming to college, my priority was to get a degree, and I was definitely oblivious to the extent of the “ring by spring” culture, which would eventually infiltrate my conversations and Instagram feed.
While the majority of “ring by spring” conversations generally have a facetious tone, there seems to be a gap between joking about relationships and the legitimate seriousness associated with marriage.
I am in no way judging people in serious relationships in college. In fact, I truly respect and admire couples who are able to attentively commit to one another during such a busy and stressful period in their lives. Yet, students must realize being in a relationship does not have to be a part of the college experience, and it certainly does not define one’s character. This is the real issue at hand.
The danger in this sort of rhetoric comes with the self-esteem involved with a culture subliminally judging one’s relationship status. It can be extremely easy to internalize these ideas when the topic of marriage is so ingrained within campus culture.
The problem here is that this type of stress should not be on the same level as a student’s academic ambitions. Though it may not be intentional, my experience at a Christian school aligns with the idea that finding a spouse is just as, or more important than, obtaining a degree.
Getting married before the age of 21 in America is unlikely for most people, and is practically unheard of in the world outside of conservative, Christian schools.
Just to be clear, I am not advocating against dating or becoming engaged in college. Relationships are healthy and, frankly, normal for the environment students attending Christian universities live in. It makes sense to pursue romantic endeavors amongst people with similar values and who practice the same faith. But students, especially at private Christian universities, must make a contentious effort to realize their purpose for spending money to attend school. We are here to get a degree.