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Ring by spring is still a thing?

Bianca Almada | Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A recent CollegeMagazine.com article has ranked Notre Dame as among the top 10 universities for finding a husband. It says, “College is totally just about finding the perfect man, right?” Granted, the online magazine hosts a mixture of “serious” and “funny” articles, so it is hard to tell whether or not the author was serious. As a sane, self-respecting woman, however, I still have to say that if this statement does not make you sick, then nothing will.

Notre Dame does have an odd stereotype when it comes to marriage. People joke about “ring by spring,” the phenomenon of senior students getting engaged before their graduation. Though this does occur on occasion, it affects nowhere near the majority of Notre Dame students. Then there is also the idea of the “Notre Dame Dream”: meeting and falling in love with someone on campus, getting married in the Basilica after graduation and birthing children who will one day attend the University. This seemed to be especially popular among current students’ parents’ generations.

None of these things are bad things. Love and marriage are wonderful, and people who find their mates so early in life are extremely lucky. What is completely out of line, however, is when people (or tasteless magazine articles) turn love and marriage into a contest or a race, or when the search for a mate becomes the most important aspect of a college students’ life.

The truth of the matter is that college is simply not about finding a husband or a wife. College is, first and foremost, about finding yourself. It is about getting an education, determining a career path, gaining life experience and having some fun along the way. It is about defining yourself, not actively searching for someone else to define you.

If someone happens to find the person that they want to marry during college, then congratulations to them. That is beyond exciting, and everyone should be happy for them. But this happiness should be extended because the couple is joyful and in love, not because they have met some imaginary deadline. Furthermore, people should not be made to feel like they are “behind” or inadequate in some way for not having any marriage prospects coming out of college.

Twenty-two years old is still very young. When you really think about it, it is the very beginning of independent, adult life. There is absolutely no need to have everything figured out by then; a starting idea is completely acceptable. Twenty-two-year-olds do not need to be working at their dream jobs just yet, they do not need to be living in their dream house just yet and they do not need to know who they will spend the rest of their lives just yet. There is plenty of time.

Frankly, I do not even know how people manage to afford “ring by spring.” Rings, weddings and marriages themselves are all very expensive. How can college students, who have never worked a legitimate full-time job for more than a few summers have all the necessary money for an engagement? Sure, parents often chip in for many of these things, but to have a parent purchase an engagement ring or a first joint apartment? I am a firm believer that people should not be getting married before they can be more or less financially independent and stable, and this seems almost impossible for students fresh out of college.

Out of my high school graduating class, two girls have already gotten married. The thought of this is absolutely crazy to me, but to each his own, and I am genuinely happy for them. For me, and I imagine for most Notre Dame students, it is not the right path. Most Notre Dame students will not be engaged before they graduate, and that is more that okay. This University has prepared us to face the world independently and with confidence – and to be open to love at the right time.

Bianca Almada is a sophomore in Cavanaugh Hall. She is studying English, Spanish and journalism. She can be contacted at balmada@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.