As a single college student surrounded by tons of people who are dating or even engaged, it's so easy to get lost in the game of comparison. The "ring by spring" culture that envelopes many christian college campuses can create a lot of pressure to be in a relationship and find "the one".
The phrase, "ring by spring" refers to students aiming to be engaged by the spring semester of their senior year. The saying is often thrown around as a joke but the social pressure of settling down before college ends or shortly after graduation is definitely real.
In a survey conducted by Stacy Keogh George at Baylor University at least 67% of the students feel at least a little bit of pressure to get married. The study also reports that females feel more pressure from the "ring by spring" culture than males do.
So, what is it that creates this social pressure? Is it solely promoted by the students themselves, or does the university play a role in perpetuating this culture?
It's not uncommon for a speaker addressing the entire student body to throw in some ring by spring jokes and remark on girls coming to earn their "M.R.S. degree". Often at welcome events speed dating is available and #RingBySpring is even promoted on the school's social media. So, does the school have a part in encouraging this phenomenon? To an extent, yes, and the students at these institutions just walk in this age old tradition.
Ring by Spring can function as a good thing in that it promotes marriage. However, it definitely has its faults. Charlie D. Pruett, PhD., a professor at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas states, "it could promote weakened marriages due to an unhealthy motivation for marriage," and "promote lower self-worth among individuals who have 'failed' to achieve the social value of success when RBS is not achieved."
An engagement shouldn't be treated as the fulfillment of a social expectation.
Because of how heavily ring by spring saturates campuses it can greatly influence the way the students perceive dating. Dating within a christian college setting is often approached with more serious intentions, and while intentionality within relationships is important, casually dating and getting to know someone should also be an option.
In order to alleviate some of the pressures that come with the common ring by spring mindset it's important to generate conversation about what a healthy relationship looks like. Young adults should be informed that time spent single isn't wasted time and it's possible to meet a potential spouse outside of college.
Students should be encouraged to pursue the calling that God has placed on their life and let the right person come along in God's timing rather than allowing a relationship, or the idea of a relationship, to consume their thoughts or skew how they view their self worth.
So to the college student out there who hasn't found their forever girl/guy, be patient, be still and be content with where God has placed you. Utilize your college years to become more self aware and sharpen your skills for the professional field that lies ahead of you.
Love comes in God's timing. You can rest in knowing His promises for your life and have faith in knowing He is consistent and will follow through.