A College Degree or a Dazzling Ring

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In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, a story about college women, the character Joan Bandwyn, played by Julia Stiles, is facing a dilemma. She’s graduating and she must choose between Yale law school and marriage. She chooses marriage. This movie is set in the 1950’s when the average age for marriage was 20 for a woman and 22 for a man.

Fast-forward to today and the marriage age has jumped 5 years with it being approximately 26 for a woman and 27 for a man. College 20-somethings stuck in their bubble of pre-adulthood are now hesitant to get married. Something that was once a small step in the acceptable direction is now like a giant leap. There are some who have chosen to take the next step in their relationship earlier than most, but there are still some deeply devoted couples who don’t feel marriage is something they should be concerned with right now.

“No one is perfect and relationships take a lot of time and effort,” said Megan Williams (W.), 22, a senior Criminal Justice major. Megan W. and her boyfriend of four years, Nicholas Petty, are known for having a strong relationship amongst their friends, with bets being made as to when they will make it legally official.

Right now they are content with their current relationship, with the plan of getting married after they have the chance to establish themselves individually and save up. According to The Wedding Report, an average U.S. wedding costs around $22,000, not including the engagement ring or honeymoon. A majority of college graduates come out making around $40,000, but with student loans hovering over their heads. “I believe that with the economy being the way it is, many college students don’t want to struggle and feel as if they’re being forced to marry,” said Megan W.

While she admitted that an engagement can mean gaining a closer relationship with your partner and starting a family earlier, by not being engaged they feel like they’ve maintained their individuality.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s another young couple, a gay couple, engaged at 21. Sharing the same name, but making a different decision, former Post student Megan Koilparampil (K.) says she met her now fiancé, Lesley Scheiber, while at Post before she transferred to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Megan K. has since been with Lesley for two and a half years before putting the ring on her finger eight months ago.

“I think people my age don’t like to feel tied down. College is supposed to be a time of freedom and making your own decisions,” said Megan K., an International Studies major. “Getting engaged isn’t for everyone and it can be very hazardous to relationships when one person doesn’t feel like they’ve explored all of their options,” she continued.  For Megan K. and Lesley though, it was love at first sign, and so an engagement quickly followed. “It’s nice to know that she’ll always be there. And it’s nice to have a ring to prove it,” said Megan K.

It is suggested that couples live together before getting engaged, and 64% of them do according to a survey on iVillage.com. Take for example one of C.W. Post’s newly engaged couples: Jacklyn (Jackie) Breitfeller, 28, and Harun Eggleton, 27, who lived together before popping the question. Jackie, a Resident Assistant in Queens Hall, who is pursuing her second Masters in Art Education, fondly recalls meeting her future fiancé who she has known ever since their sociology class in high school. She had a crush on him.

They were re-united on the same campus when Harun pursued a degree in Digital Art and Design. “From the moment I saw him, I had the same butterflies in my stomach that I did in high school.”

Harun proposed July 9th at the Old Westbury Gardens just in time for them to approach their final years at Post.

“Carrying her over the threshold and into the dorm room just doesn’t sound nice,” said Harun, also a Resident Assistant on campus in Suffolk Hall. Now they are waiting until October of 2011 to finally hear wedding bells.

For now all they’re trying to do is save. Megan K. and Lesley will begin solid marriage plans after possibly traveling around Europe, and Nick might pop the question to Megan W. on the day of graduation. No matter what route they take, these couples are moving at the rate that they feel is the best for them.

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