Category Archives: Feature

Being married in college: UNW students tell all

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

of marriage.”

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.”

Students share their tips on how to get a ring by spring

engagement ring

by Hannah Beebe

At the University of Northwestern – St. Paul spring is in the air and that means another thing: lots of engagements. This has caused many students to label the spring season as a ring by spring season. This phrase is not only used on Northwestern’s campus, but at many different colleges around the Twin Cities.

A recently engaged Rachel Dougan, junior electronic media communications major, offered her advice on the perfect recipe to get a ring by spring. “The secret is to be best friends for two years, then date for a year and a half, then eventually a ring will fall into place.” Dougan laughs, “it is the perfect recipe for engagement.” 

“The secret is to be best friends for two years, then date for a year and a half, then eventually a ring will fall into place.”

Emily Volkmer, a junior marketing major also has a recipe for love, “Step one: find crush; Step two: pretend to trip in front of them; Step three: if they ask ‘are you okay?’ just say ‘yes I was just falling for you.’ If they don’t notice, you are in the perfect position to trip them. You could say ‘now you are falling for me.’” Volkmer wants to make it clear this strategy has no backup of whether it works or not, but hopes are high.

engagement ring

Image courtesy of pixabay.

Victoria Downey, a junior public relations major, says if you want to get a ring by spring to “hangout in the Stud a lot.” The Stud, nicknamed for the Student Center, is a place for students to hangout and study for finals.

Rachel Allen, a senior nursing major, says that if you want to get a ring by spring, “meet and become friends with every guy in the school. Or you could just stalk the guy you like until he just gives up.” Allen laughs, “but I wouldn’t recommend doing that.” Alexus Harrison Coleman, a sophomore elementary and special education major, says another way to get a ring by sprin’ is to read the Bible in front of people. “That way a guy or gal knows that you are looking for a Christian based relationship.”

Hannah David, a sophomore education major suggests “drop lots of hints.”

Serena Lee, a sophomore English major, who got engaged last fall to Joshua Hanson, says to “get together with your group of friends and tell them you want a ring by spring. Then maybe one of your friends will give a ring to you.” Lisa Sullivan, a sophomore nursing major suggests, “Be a social butterfly and talk to people. Or forget the ring by spring and eat pizza. Those are literally my goals.”

Most Northwestern students are single, but some are not necessarily looking for a ring by spring. Spencer Yeomans, a junior biology and chemistry major, says that students should not focus on ring by spring. Instead, Yeomans suggested focusing on school first. “Focus on graduating before you get married. Then give your full attention to your spouse later in life.” Jordan Broberg, a sophomore ministry major, simply stated, “don’t get a ring by spring. It is not a good idea.”

Ringing in a Ringless Spring: Life as a Northwestern Single

Single Life

By Aliyah Basuil

At the University of Northwestern—St. Paul, whenever you go on a date with someone or start dating, the common assumption is you’re going to get married. This mindset of many Northwestern students toward dating exemplifies the marriage-oriented culture on campus, affectionately called “ring by spring.”

What is Ring by Spring?

“College students are really busy, and sometimes a girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t fit into that schedule. So when someone gets a girlfriend, sometimes they sacrifice the other relationships in their life because they don’t have time to balance other relationships.”

Whether you oppose or advocate for the ring by spring tradition here at Northwestern, there’s no denying that it’s here to stay. It’s a common phenomenon at many Christian universities that refers to students courting in the fall semester and getting engaged by the spring semester.

On campuses like Northwestern, where the members of the student body are often like-minded in faith and background, this phenomenon drives a culture that focuses on finding a potential spouse from such a desirable selection pool. Unfortunately for some, however, the ring by spring mentality leaves out a large demographic of the student population at Northwestern: singles.

The Pressure

“It’s hard sometimes. It puts unnecessary pressure on us,” said Ben Lyons, a senior, majoring in business administration. He said that the focus of marriage in the campus community creates a kind of peer pressure that has students thinking, I don’t need to get married, but I see everyone else doing it, so I want to.”

Despite the pressure to find a spouse at Northwestern, some students speak favorably of the single life, saying that not being preoccupied with a significant other means that you have more time to know God, learn about yourself and friends and be engaged in the community.

Lyons, who has been involved on campus as a resident assistant for two years, pointed out, “College students are really busy, and sometimes a girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t fit into that schedule. So when someone gets a girlfriend, sometimes they sacrifice the other relationships in their life because they don’t have time to balance other relationships.”

Lyons advises against dating during freshman year, as it is a critical time of self-discovery and transition.

“When you first come to college, I think it’s a bad idea to start dating because it’s a huge transition in your life. You want to be able to experience that transition fully and on your own, before engaging in a relationship that’s going to distract you. It’s not an ideal time to pursue those types of things,” said Lyons.

Perks of the Single Life

Dating often requires both parties involved to invest money and time into each other, so some students value being single because they can save money and stay focused on school.

“Being single is not that bad. You don’t have to spend money on another person, so that’s dope,” said Vanshay Murdock, a junior video production major. “Personally, I have five jobs and am doing this thing called college.”

“If you’re single, enjoy life,” Murdoch advises. “Enjoy being able to make your own decisions and not having to rely on someone else. Just because the people around you have significant others, that doesn’t mean you must have one, too. God has someone for all of us. That person will appear in our lives when God thinks it’s the right time.”

In the midst of ring by spring pressure, students are advised to lighten up and not take things too seriously.

Lyons said, “Go on dates with more people! There’s always the intent of marriage—that’s always the reason you go on dates—but the first date is not about trying to figure out if you want to marry them.”

To singles in college trying to score dates with potential spouses, Lyons said, “Shoot your shot! The world is your oyster. You’re only going to have this opportunity once. You’re in college and everyone’s looking for a spouse. And you don’t want to regret it, you know? You want to be able to look back and say you tried”


What professors and faculty think about ring by spring

Byline: Lisa Fredericks

Many professors and faculty here at the University of Northwestern — St. Paul witness the romantic relationships their students enter. These relationships sometimes lead to marriage while in college. There is a wide range of opinions on the phrase “ring by spring.”

Accounting professor Vernon Pollard believes that students getting married in college is “way premature” because “people are not in the same place of maturity and resources.” Regardless of where Pollard stands, he says: “All you can offer students is perspective and then let them decide.”

Pollard’s perspective is that “marriage is more emotional than practical” and that someone “cannot solve emotional problems with practical solutions.” He adds, “Getting married is not the beginning of love. Marriage is legal. What is pressing us to legalize it?” Pollard shares that students must be self-aware of who they are first before they blend their life with another person. He wants students to also think about where they are placing their gratification and relationship with God.

Associate dean of student engagement, Dawnette Scott, commented from a historical perspective of when women were not allowed to go to college and that only men could. She shared how because of this, when women were allowed to go to college, they were going to get their “MRS” degree. Although these humorous statements can be made, there are sufficient reasons to why they are created, especially when it comes to Christian campuses.

“My exposure has been more on Christian universities,” says Scott. “I think there is an ethos within Christianity that values marriage to such a degree that it got a higher ranking in people’s mind than singleness—it is more esteem; it is seen more as valuable. I don’t agree with that, but I think it is seen that way.”

Ring by spring can be seen both negatively and positively. Admissions counselor Choua LeMay says “The positive is that students do genuinely find love, and that’s never a bad thing. The negative is that, there’s a false notion that generates unnecessary pressure for students to leave their four years with wedding plans in the works.”

Can it really be possible for every student to find their significant other by the time they graduate? It can be obvious that this cannot be guaranteed for everyone and brings Pollard’s questions stated earlier into discussion: “What is pressing us to legalize it?”


As a former student and now on staff at Northwestern for a total of five years, LeMay shares her observations of students in romantic relationships: “I think it’s a normal step in this particular stage in their lives to be looking for someone to spend the rest of their lives with. I believe this is a turning point in a student’s life: maturity goes through a major growth spurt and life lessons are to be had. It’s a good time to explore compatibility in a future spouse.”

However, the concept of ring by spring has also caused a lot of students to rush to find their spouse since many of their peers are. “It’s a covert type of pressure but pressure nonetheless. Part of the pressure comes from a traditional Christian mindset that assumes everyone should get married and start a family—that it’s normal. Or that woman should marry and assume domestic roles. Or perhaps, pressure happens when you witness all your friends around you finding someone, getting engaged, making wedding arrangements and starting the next season of their lives and the innate desire in us all wanting to “settle down” hits hardest,” says LeMay.

Regardless of romantic relationships, there are other types of relationships that college students are also facing. Scott says “You got some relationships that are young and mature. You got some relationships that are bold and beautiful. You got some relationships that are slow moving but beautifully moving. You got people who know how to do relationships and people who don’t. There is a lot to learn about how to do relationships well— and that goes for roommates, friendships, working and dating. Everybody is trying to figure out how to do those things well.”

Ring by spring has definitely been embedded into the culture here at Northwestern and many other places. Despite the challenging influences, it can arise for students, Scott encourages students to “try not to think about it too seriously [that is] finding your life mate in college too seriously. It will happen for some and it won’t happen for others. It doesn’t mean you won’t get married. My greatest recommendation is to use this time in college to figure out who you are and how you do who you are out in the world cause if you keep shaping that then you’re going to be the best partner, spouse, parent,[fill in the blank] that you can be.”

Tale as old as time hits the big screen

By Sarit Bridell

Movie poster for the new Beauty and the Beast remake that just hit the big screen (photo courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures).

The long-awaited remake of the family favorite “Beauty and the Beast” hit the big screen this month, captivating viewers all around. “Beauty and the Beast” was one of this years most anticipated films and a family classic.

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