Married… with classes

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Blacksburg, Va. — A Virginia Tech student’s wedding band and engagement ring sits atop a computer she uses to complete many course assignments. Photo by: Katelin Frosell

 
by Katelin Frosell–

For some students, college academics and school relations aren’t the only relationships they are tending to in their undergraduate years.

According to a survey done in 2008 by the National Center for Education Statistics, about 18 percent of a sample of 20,928 undergraduate students had thrown marriage into the mix.

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Janet Ferguson, a 27-year-old senior at Virginia Tech, married her husband in 2010 just before he joined the Army and was stationed in Italy.

Ferguson said she and her husband, Jonathan Ferguson, moved to Blacksburg when he got out of the Army so she could finish her degree at Virginia Tech. “Sometimes he comes to campus with me to study, and we make sure to eat dinner together, work out together and not forget date night!”

The national marriage age has reached 28, a number much higher than the previous average age of 20 in the 1970s according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia Bradford Wilcox told CNN, married students often get pestered because they are “breaking the norm.” Most students tend to feel like they should keep their nuptials a secret in the classroom because of what their friends or professors may think.

“I don’t necessarily say, ‘Hi, I’m Janet, and I’m married’ when I meet people. I don’t like to call myself out unless it comes up,” Ferguson said. “I’m proud of my decision, but I also want my mind and coursework to be what stands out.”

Hayley Paljug, a 21-year-old senior at Virginia Tech, married her husband in June.

“I had a few people tell me I should wait until I graduated to get married, and I respect their opinion,” Paljug said, “but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Jason and I did not think it made sense to wait just because I was still in school. So, to put it simply: I got married in college because I was ready to start a lifetime with my best friend and did not want to wait a moment longer.”

Paljug said marriage changed the way she thought of life when she was a single student.

“I really just thought about myself, not in a selfish way, but because I didn’t have another person to think about. When you get married, you become one with another person and now life is about the two of you.”

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