These days, women don’t typically go to college with the purpose of obtaining their “MRS” degree—a term, popular in the mid-20th century used to describe young women who went to college with the sole intent of finding and marrying a young man with a good education and high earning potential. Young women today often put marriage on the backburner while they focus on completing their education and establishing their career.
In 2013, Susan Patton, better known as “The Princeton Mom,” sparked controversy with her letter to the student newspaper of Princeton University pleading with young women to find a husband before they graduate and find that the pool of eligible men has rapidly shrunk. Critics blasted her for her outdated views on women and relationships.
However, nearly 83 percent of women who participated in a national study agreed that being married was a major life goal, and 63 percent agreed that they would like to meet their future husband while in college. The reality, though, is that young people are delaying marriage and family, with the average age for getting married being 27 for women and 28 for men.
Why the delay? Rising college debt is a factor—a study by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project found that 91 percent of young adults surveyed believe they need to be financially independent before marriage. Fears of divorce also play into the decision to not tie the knot.
Perhaps there is some wisdom in the “outdated” advice on finding a spouse in college. As parents prep their teens—guys and girls alike—before college, they should also discuss life after college, and not just about what kind of job they hope to land.
A 2013 Facebook user data study found that 28 percent of married graduates attended the same college as their spouse.
Do you want to be married? Do you want to have a family? These are important questions, and it’s not too early for your teen to start thinking about them. Determining their values early on can help guide their decisions on choosing a major, and ultimately a career.
If your teen aspires to have a career that requires travel 40 weeks out of the year, have them consider the impact their career might have on marriage or raising a family. If having children is a priority, young women especially should be mindful of the age limitations of fertility and consider how their career goals could impact the timing of when they have children.
As parents, we want our children to succeed in all areas of life, including academics, the work place and relationships. The pool of eligible, like-minded young women and men is likely much greater on a college campus than in the “adult” world. Encouraging them to carefully consider their goals for life—not just college and career—and to keep those priorities in mind as they start college will go a long way in helping them become well-rounded individuals and in achieving what’s most important to them.