June 9, 2023

Some single students find themselves affected by "couple culture" on college campuses.

College is a time for a multitude of social, academic and professional endeavors. A student‘s undergrad experience looks hugely different depending on the individual and their environmental factors.

One arguably popular aspect of the college social sphere is its romantic component. Over 120 million individuals are married in the U.S. alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is six percent of the U.S. population.

If the perspective of marriage is shifted specifically toward the culture and surroundings of college life, the phrase “ring by spring” might be familiar to many. This specific phenomenon describes the seemingly common occurrence of college students, specifically students on Christian college campuses, who get engaged to a significant other by the time the spring season emerges.

Does this specific college-centric occurrence have any major influence or repercussions on students? While opinions vary, there is one constant that remains true: many students and faculty at California Baptist University recognize the phrase.

Dr. Amy Stumpf, professor of religion and society, explained that ring by spring is nothing more than a saying, and it is a sort of campus urban legend that exists within many college scenes.

“Ring by spring is something that CBU students love to make up,” Stumpf said. “It’s not actually really happening. Most colleges, including Christian colleges, have a variation of the term.”

For Allison Weaver, senior English major, the phenomenon was something that took place in real time and was taking place throughout her college experience.

“For me, ring by spring hits its peak in either freshman or sophomore year,” Weaver said. “This is the time when many students are realistically thinking about who they actually want to settle down with. I feel like there is a high concentration of students specifically at CBU who date with the intention to marry. For me specifically, I started to see people get engaged this summer before my junior year.”

Gabby Courtney, senior early childhood studies major, elaborated on the commonality of ring by spring on the CBU campus. Courtney, like Weaver, highlighted the strong presence of ring by spring during her undergraduate freshman and sophomore year.

“I think that ring by spring is common particularly among Christian campuses because much of the young Christian community has a goal of being married,” Courtney said. “I feel like there is a certain stereotype around Christians getting married young. I would say that there is some sort of pressure to get married, especially among Christian campuses. I know that personally I have felt that sort of pressure particularly in my freshman (and) sophomore year.”

Stumpf emphasized that it may seem common for CBU students to get married during their college years because this is a season when many students are social and are looking for a life partner.

“It is important to understand that the social pressure to get married does not directly come from the university, but rather from the college season of life,” Stumpf said. “If a student is feeling this pressure, it is comforting to know that you are not alone. And, if you are looking to get married, college does expose you to a lot of different people and it shouldn’t be frowned upon to get married in this season of life.”

Weaver noted that it is common to idealize marriage because of the extras that come along with marriage and lose sight of the actual structure and implications of marriage.

“I feel that a lot of younger people fall in love with the idea of the wedding more than the actual marriage,” Weaver said. “What I mean by that is that I think many people go on social media platforms and see these Pinterest-worthy venues, dresses and rings and they want the iconic fairytale wedding. What many people don’t think about is the longevity of marriage and the implications of a long-term relationship.”

Each individual student is on their own personal life journey. Some students choose to enter a relationship and get engaged. Some students choose to remain single and shift their focus to other aspects of their life. The social environment of college only makes marriage more common, and it is up to the student whether or not they want to get married during their college years.

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