So many of us think of college as that time before “the real world” sets in. But what happens when grown-up life and college life combine? Mastering that crucial balance of academics and social life is hard enough. Now, meet four girls who chose to throw engagement or marriage into the mix. All have slightly different stories, but these newly engaged and newlyweds agree on one thing: This is not the average college experience.
Christine Klein, Colorado State University
When Christine and her boyfriend of two years, Rob, went to Disneyland this past March, she had no idea she'd leave with a fiancé. Rob planned ahead and made reservations at a Pirates of the Caribbean themed restaurant, talked to the wait staff ahead of time, and even made a plan with the park coordinator. “The coordinator came over and asked if we wanted her to take a picture of us,” says Christine. “I posed for the picture and as soon as she started taking pictures, he got down on his knee. I was laughing because I had no idea.” Everyone, even riders on a nearby ride started clapping and cheering.
Even though she's only 20 years old, Christine says that she's completely ready for marriage. “We really wanted to live together, but we both come from a conservative background,” she says. Still, she and Rob also know that academics are a top priority. They plan to get married next year while still balancing school.
Somewhat surprisingly, Christine never faced criticism about getting married too young. Even though none of her friends are thinking of marriage anytime soon, they support her decision and know that it's for the right reasons. “I don't think anybody really thinks that they're ready [to get married],” she says. “You need to have the same values, interests, and feel mature enough. You have to know the person before you jump into it.”
Even though all of her friends and most of her professors know about her engagement, Christine hasn't noticed much of a change in her lifestyle. “Rob and I still hang out with our friends quite a bit,” she says. “I think that I actually am doing a lot better in school,” she says, attributing this to the support system she gained when she announced the engagement news to everyone.
Christine's Best Getting-Married Advice:
- Communication is key. You're not just thinking in terms of “I” anymore, which takes a ton of practice.
- It's not all about finding the perfect guy. You need to be the right woman for him, too.
- Wait for someone who appreciates you and wants to do things to make you happy.
- “I don't think there's really a social norm anymore for when people get married,” she says. The decision is all about you, not your friends, family, or anyone else.
Kit Jenkins, University of Colorado
After a bad breakup, Kit's friend suggested she sign up for the dating website, hotornot.com. That's where she met her now-husband, Tim, who proposed after the two dated for a year and a half. “I was a sophomore and a half after spending a year in the Marine Corps,” says Kit. “We were sitting on the couch watching a Disney video and he said, 'you know, we should probably get married.’” Tom was in the military too and happened to be stationed near Kit in Germany.
Both were used to constantly moving around. “It was one of those things where you meet somebody and when you're away from them you feel like you're missing part of yourself,” says Kit. So she followed him from Virginia to New York and knew that if she wanted to keep following him, marriage was her only option. Soon, she found herself making wedding plans while planning classes and studying for final exams. Their first “married in the military move” was from Brooklyn to Colorado and now Kit and Tom are looking into moving to Germany.
Kit says that the biggest challenge of getting married in college is being confident in your own identity. “When you're going to school and figuring out what to do, you have to be really comfortable with what you want, five, 10, 15, 20 years from now,” she says. After being engaged once before and realizing she and her fiancé were completely incompatible, Kit learned just how much people can change over time.
Unlike Christine, Kit and Tom faced a ton of criticism from family and friends, especially because of their seven-year age difference. “His grandparents and mom said no way, that I'm only after his money and it won't last,” she says. But the couple got married and ignored anyone who didn't think it was a good idea.
Kit's Best Getting-Married Advice
- Be prepared to be flexible with every aspect of your life
- Sharing a lease with a boyfriend or fiancé is one thing, but being legally responsible for each other’s things is totally different.
- Getting married is still getting married, regardless of age.
Emily Applegate, James Madison University
When her boyfriend of two years, Shea, took Emily down to the beach and proposed by the water, she had no doubt that they were meant to be together. She also knew that she wasn't ready for marriage until after graduation.
Like so many other girls who decide to marry young, Emily knew she wanted to live with Shea when he joined the Marine Corps after graduation. Unlike other girls, Emily grew up in a Marine Corps family and was used to moving around.
Even though she's the first of her friends to get engaged, Emily loves being different. “Some of my friends who have also been in long relationships were jealous,” she says. But sometimes, she feels the pressure. “Everyone is watching what you're doing and how you're doing it. I feel like I'm expected to be more mature at my age.” Still, she takes comfort in having a deeper connection with Shea than most people her age. Even when she sees the doubt in some people's faces, Emily knows she's making the right choice. Still, she feels that she's not expected to party but instead spend all her time with Shea.
Emily's Best Getting-Married Advice
- Keep things in perspective.
- Even though your life may be totally different, make every effort to keep your friends close.
- Try not to stress about wedding plans. Even if things seem crazy, it will all get done.
Andrea Satur, Colorado State University
Andrea Satur's reasons for marrying her boyfriend of four years, Christian, were similar to Kit's. She was a sophomore and he was a senior, he was in the Navy and she was visiting him for spring break. “I landed at the airport and met him at the baggage claim,” she says. “We talked for awhile and then he proposed.”
Andrea says that, if Christian wasn't in the Navy, they would have waited until after graduation. The summer is one of the only times they're together long enough and she knew that, after four years, it was about time. Now, the two are almost done with their plans for a July 31st wedding.
Some friends say that Andrea isn't ready for marriage and this bride-to-be says that she understands on some level. “I know I'd be telling someone the same thing,” she says. But her family is completely supportive, even asking why it took the couple so long to get engaged.
Andrea's Best Getting-Married Advice
- Try to take your time and stay engaged for awhile.
- If you do decided to get married while in college, expect a ton of stress.
- School should always be a top priority.