It’s common knowledge that many people find their lifelong partners in college, a la Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan or Prince William and Kate Middleton. But what about here at Northwestern? Is love really in the air between fellow wildcats?
When eager adolescents set off on their college journeys, they may believe they are set to only attain bachelor’s degrees. However, they could be leaving campus after four years with not only a diploma, but a ring as well. Although in 2016, women aren’t going to college to get their MRS degrees anymore, there is still a sizable chunk of the population that met their significant other while in school.
Here at Northwestern, the rate of inter-wildcat marriage is shockingly low – it peaked in 1979 at a rate of 2.5 percent for all graduate and undergraduate students in the same graduating class, according to the Northwestern Alumni Association. Since then, the rate has steadily dropped to less than one percent for the class of 2009. So, unfortunately for young romantics roaming Evanston, it seems Northwestern is an unlikely place to find a lifelong beau.
“I don’t really know anyone who married another student,” James Hall, class of ’82, said. “It wasn’t all that common.”
The average age at which people get married for the first time has steadily increased across the nation. Lower marrying ages 50 years ago corresponded with higher student marriage rates. If it were socially expected for young people to get hitched during their collegiate years – as it was in the 60’s, when men got married on average at 22.8, and women at 20.3, according to the US census – then they would be more likely to take the leap with their current college boyfriend or girlfriend.
Students nowadays feel less pressure to wed during their college years, as the expectation of leaving college with a degree AND a ring has gone out of vogue.
“It’s so crazy to think that some people might have possibly already met their future husband or wife,” Weinberg freshman Megy Appalaraju said. “I personally feel like marriage is still really far away, but I guess you never know what’s going to happen.”
What makes other institutions such hotbeds for young romance? Or more specifically, what are factors that preclude spritely wildcats from tying the knot? Well, for one, more liberal and urban areas – such as Evanston, Illinois – tend to discourage marrying young, according to the New York Times. In Cook County, young people are seven percent less likely to be married by 26, relative to the national average. And anywhere that consistently goes blue in election years has a significantly higher average marrying age.
There are also many university specific characteristics that influence students’ proclivity to marry early. The most significant factor of all could be a school’s religious affiliation – over 60 percent of Brigham Young students find their spouses wandering their very own campus, according to USA Today.
Northwestern’s very low rate of inter-alumni marriage may be attributed to the school’s lack of religious affiliation and urban and liberal environment. So, even if it’s unlikely that you marry a fellow wildcat, you’ll find love somewhere!