If you kiss your sweetheart under the Engin Arch as the clock strikes midnight, someday, you’ll marry her.
At least so goes the legend, which ranks right up there with the curse of stepping on the “M” and wading in the fountain near the Diag, as ideal go-to campus lore for any orientation leader in a pinch.
It’s silly, sure, but skeptics may want to reconsider their doubts concerning the Arch’s magical power. Love and marriage on campuses across the country seem to be experiencing resurgence.
While 50 years ago statistics suggested that college women had more difficulty finding a husband then their less-educated peers, recent studies suggest that marriages between college graduates are making a comeback.
Institute for Social Research Prof. Jerald Bachman, a researcher on the Monitoring the Future report, which tracks teens’ attitudes on a variety of subjects, including substance abuse and marriage, said that it appears the college-bound are more inclined toward marriage than they were 30 years ago.
In recent years, in 2004 and 2005, college-bound high school seniors were also slightly more likely to want to get married than their classmates who don’t plan on going to college, Bachman said.
College-educated women are now more likely to marry than their less educated counterparts, although they typically marry several years later than the national average. And when they do marry, college graduates are also much less likely to divorce.
The divorce rate among college graduates has dropped steeply since the 1980s. Bachelor’s degree holders are about half as likely to divorce than couples without a four-year degree, according to analysis by Steven Martin, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland.
But all this doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to marry your Chem class sweetheart, though. To the contrary, the data suggest that while you should marry someone who’s educated, you’ll probably want to wait for quite a while after necking in the Engin Arch – if you marry someone you met at Michigan at all.
People who marry younger are more likely to divorce or feel like they’ve missed something than those who wait longer. So maybe orientation leaders should keep all that talk about the Engin Arch to themselves.
Michigan graduates appear to be more likely to marry shortly after school than graduates of some other schools, but not most. Five years after graduation, 31 percent of Michigan alumni had tied the knot at some point, compared to 20 percent of Reed College alumni and 23 percent of the University of Pennsylvania graduates, according to a New York Times poll released in September of 500 members of the University’s class of 2002. The national average cited in the poll was 34 percent.
The Alumni Association has recorded that 28,454 alumni are married to another alum, making at least 14,227 University-educated couples. And there are probably even more people who haven’t reported their marital status to the school.
This year, 81 weddings were held in either the Michigan League or the Michigan Union and while not all of the couples were alumni, the vast majority were – an estimated 90 percent – said Nancy Harper, the special events manager for the University’s Unions.
But just looking at the women in white who often pose with their Michigan men on the steps of the Union makes it seem like marrying a fellow Wolverine isn’t such a bad idea. But maybe the trick to avoiding becoming a divorce statistic is just to wait a while – for six years or so. Or maybe not.
Kinesiology senior Bethany Crunk met her husband as a freshman at Northern Michigan University, while both she and her husband were working at a concession stand. After getting engaged during Crunk’s sophomore year, they married last July.
Crunk, who is 23, said getting married young added responsibilities such as running a household and working extra hours to pay the bills, but that wouldn’t change anything.
“However stressful, I wouldn’t have done it any different,” Crunk said.
Ann Pearlman, a marriage and family counselor in Ann Arbor, said that committing to a relationship in college or during the early 20s could have very positive effects.
But not always. Couples can either grow up together or grow apart as they mature, Pearlman said.
Pearlman said that college couples can support, or parent, each other by keeping each other on track through school and starting a career as they start the final stages of adulthood.
Couples can also help each other stay clear of the “party-hardy” lifestyle, she said.
On the other hand, couples who commit to each other in college may not get a chance to explore other relationships or other people and learn what they are looking for out of a relationship, Pearlman said.
She said it makes logistical sense that so many people meet their lifelong mates during their college years because students grow independent from their first family and often look for new relationships for support.
“It’s an ideal time to meet somebody,” she said. “We want someone to cling to. We want someone to share our lives with.”
Pearlman said relationships are successful when the couple is “in sync in terms of intimacy,” meaning that they agree on the level of intimacy they are looking for from the relationship.
But despite the joys of marrying young, researchers are positing that one reason why marriages between college couples are lasting longer may be that more and more couples are waiting longer to get married. Statistics show that the younger a couple gets married, up until their mid-twenties, the more likely the marriage is too fail.
In 1970, the average bride was 21. In 2007, the average bride is 26.
However you do it – if you don’t rush into it, or even if you do, college will always be one of the best places to meet the love of your life.
University alum Noah Roth met his fiancé Rachel Jacobs in a Psychology 111 class when they were both freshman in living in Mary Markley Residence Hall.
Roth said that although he knew Jacobs as a freshman, he didn’t ask her out until he ran into her at the gym during their sophomore year.
The pair, both 26, got engaged last winter and plan to marry this September.
Roth, who graduated in 2004, said that the idea of marriage didn’t come up in while they were still undergraduates because both were concerned with applying to graduate school, wanting to see where they were admitted before making plans for the future.
Roth said having the University in common gives him and Jacobs something easy to talk about.
“It’s a nice topic of conservation,” he said. “We both remember our time fondly.”