Wed Before Graduating From the “U”

While most college students are hooking up on the dance floor or checking each other out by scrolling through Facebook profile pictures, a small number of students are doing something really counter-cultural — they’re getting married before they graduate.

The average national age of marriage is 28, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, and experts say planning a wedding while still taking finals and cheering at football games is going against the norm.

Out of 20,928 undergraduates surveyed by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2008, about 18% reported they were married.

While there are various reasons why college sweethearts decide to tie the knot, one thing is for sure: Married students face more challenges than they did in the past.

It’s financially more difficult for married students today than just five years ago, said Kelly Roberts, a marriage and family therapist and clinical instructor at Oklahoma State University. She cited the decreasing number of student loans available and married students taking on more jobs to cover expenses.

“Students are not just juggling one job to try to make ends meet, but they’re juggling two,” she said.

Though all marriages are vulnerable in the first few years, experts say people who marry at age 21 or younger are more susceptible to divorce.

“The longer you can wait to get married up to approximately age 30, the greater your chances are at having a successful and stable committed relationship stay intact,” Roberts said

Paul Bowers, who started a blog called Married in College, said he didn’t miss out on anything by becoming a husband as an undergrad.

“There’s this idea that the college experience is based on watching ‘Animal House’ too many times, but we didn’t go to a lot of parties … we lived a pretty simple lifestyle,” he said.

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