By Brittany Brown
Here at the University of Northwestern -St. Paul, the “ring by spring” fever is all too real and seen all over
campus. Married couples get perks while living at and attending college here at Northwestern. You are
probably wondering what they are.
Christian and Rachel Brands, both seniors here at Northwestern, have been married for 10 months.
The two met in high school while being in cross-country. Rachel was a freshman and Christian a
sophomore. They made a long-distance relationship work, with “a lot of work and Jesus,” Rachel
comments. They have been together for five years. Christian is a pastoral ministry dual degree major and
Rachel is a psychology major.
For those who are wondering, there is no marriage discount at Northwestern, however you can qualify for
financial aid. There are perks of living together here at Northwestern in married housing. Christian says,
“Yes, you can live off-campus even if you’re not 21.” Since they live in Pittman South, Rachel is basically a
commuter due to the shuttle transportation. There are more dining funds and eating at home is cheaper
than eating at school.
It’s also a great opportunity to do things together, they both sang in the Christmas
concert this year. Rachel says, “You are surrounded by people; you still have the community
aspect who will support you and your relationship with God. You don’t have to start all over in a new
community. Getting married in college you still have your base group of friends.” She continues, “College is
a great place to learn how to adult together or not learning, either way it’s a growing part
Balancing the married life while being a college student is not easy as Rachel comments, “You
have to be flexible with classes, marriage and work. You have to focus on homework first and make sure to
take breaks.” Christian agreed with her saying, “The biggest difference between dating while in college and
being married while in college: when you are dating, you need to be intentional with your time spent
together, whereas you have all the rest of your time to do your individual stuff. When you are married
you need to be intentional with your time spent on homework because you are together, but you still need
to be intentional with your time together and have quality time.”
Being married will affect your lifestyle and your life as a college student. Christian remarks that he is a
natural procrastinator, and that being married made a difference. Marriage brings out the time
management that you already have and puts it to the test. Your time affects the other person; you need to
communicate and it will become easier to find excuses or to do things, but try to keep yourself on task.
Here is some advice for couples who are thinking of getting married. “Be prepared to be really busy,”
Rachel remarks, “it’s a constant balance act, make time for yourself and God.” “Make friends with each
other’s friends, keep relationships up. You are never going to be truly ready to be married. That’s part of
the reason why we got married, we’ve been together for a long time and we wanted to get married. We
didn’t see a real reason to delay for three-four more years.”
Christian continues, “It’s going to be more stressful than being single, but it’s definitely worth it. College is
a good time to make life-long friends.” Talk to your friends and each other’s families, get a lot of advice and
talk to each other. He says, “Getting married is a big decision, but if you put it off until you think that you
are ready mentally, financially and otherwise, then you’ll never get married. Consider it wisely but don’t
wait for it.”
Current married student, Forrest Cooper, a junior here at Northwestern, tells all. He shared about his
relationship with his wife Samantha Cooper. The two first met when they were 10 years old, and they were
reunited 13 years later, after Forrest was coming back from the military. He started college in August 2015,
they were married in October of 2015 and they have been married for a year and a half.
Cooper says, “If you are in a married relationship in college, then you have to be very deliberate about the
time you spend with each other.” You need to make sure that you are spending time with your spouse and
taking homework and stress into consideration because that can cause stress on your spouse. You need to
be careful and make sure that you have set times that you are going to get your homework done and
spending time with your spouse so that your relationship and trust doesn’t become a little rocky. Cooper
doesn’t do his homework on Sundays to that he and his wife can spend time with their families.
As for ring by spring, Cooper says: “Don’t jump into marriage. Take your time, because you need to make
your commitments matter, if you don’t then it’s going to be a mess.” He also says, “Don’t be in a rush to get
married while you are in college. You’re going to leave college and you’re going to meet a lot of different
people.” For men, Cooper gives this advice, “If you’re worried if she likes you or not stop worrying and
focus on being a more likable person.”