The college experience as a married student

IMG_5434By Roxanne Steward |

I started out this article wanting to write about the idea of “the college experience.” I’m not sure what I thought I would find, but I assumed, wrongly so, that we all entered into college expecting a thriving social life. I know I did. I thought it would be the cure-all for social anxiety and I would come out on the other side with this whole group of friends that I would remain in touch with forever. Honestly, that was what everyone told me.

This wasn’t what I came across when I asked people what they thought the “college experience” was going to be like. Some people agreed, they believed it would be parties and a never-ending social life. But others, I found, were more concerned about the workload college brings. Some expected it to be four years of “just making it through” until they could have real freedom.

In all of these differing opinions, though, there was one theme that everyone I talked to agreed upon: college was not what they expected. It wasn’t exactly a negative comment, but a natural circumstance. Whether they expected more social life and ended up with more work or vice versa, adjustments had to be made.

I got married my sophomore year of college. Obviously, I had a different “college experience” than the majority of my classmates. Often I have been questioned about it by peers and, mostly, adults. “Don’t you feel like you missed out on the college experience?”

Instead of spending my Friday nights “out,” I sit at home and drink wine with my husband, while binge-watching Mad Men. Instead of living in a house of roommates I have to fight with my dog for space on the couch.

Some things are harder. Like group projects, because, for me, having to meet with my group at 7 o’clock means missing dinner with my husband, which I look forward to all day. Or making last-minute plans, because I have another human that I am attached to that I like to include in my decision making.

Honestly, though, none of that has ever made me question our decision. I know getting married at 20 is abnormal to most people. I don’t feel the need to defend myself anymore, though. Although, I sit here writing this, so maybe that’s not true.

I had a different college experience than most. But it was a great one. Every good grade came with a celebration from my biggest fan. Every college traveling experience was in the company of someone who I can recollect the memories with forever. Every time there was a big transition or hard semester, my support system was right there next to me. We’ve watched each other grow up so much in the past four years.

So do I feel like I “missed out” on the college experience?

No. Because maybe there is no college experience (I say as I blast “No Such Thing” by John Mayer). Maybe we go in with all these preconceived notions in our head planted by movies and idealistic friends. Maybe we come out a little smarter, with a few more friends, but basically the same person we were when we went in. And maybe, that’s okay.

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