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.”
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.
“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”