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Books, Bouquets & Bridal Gowns: Students balance marriage with school

Love is in there air for students who defy social norms and view marriage as their college experience.

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Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2013 2:27 pm

Many college students’ weekly responsibilities consist of grocery shopping, doing laundry, going to class and studying for exams. Some undergrad students choose to face these weekly responsibilities for two. These students and their significant others are taking the step forward to make a lifelong commitment through marriage.

At the end of the day many wonder why young people take on this responsibility in addition to the everyday stresses of college. Ultimately, love is in the air. Defying the social norm, these students view marriage as their college experience.

One LSU foreign exchange student decided to change

his long-term plans for the sake of love. When Oscar Rossignoli left Honduras to study music at Louisiana State University, he soon realized how hard it was to be away from his childhood sweetheart. After a semester of dating at a distance, Rossignoli returned home and proposed to his girlfriend, Carolina.

“It was not your traditional down-on-one-knee proposal,” Rossignoli said. “It was a mutual decision and we knew we wanted to get married so we could be together and start our lives together.”

Oscar is now a junior at LSU studying music with hi loved one by his side. Carolina left behind her job in Honduras and is on a dependent student visa so she can be there for Oscar while he finishes school.

Facing the Facts

The average marriage age is 28. Today about 18 percent of undergraduates reported they were married, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which surveyed 20,928 undergraduates in 2008. This number does not take divorce into consideration; however, more times than not, these undergraduate marriages are short lived.

Over one-third of all divorces come from 20 to 24 year olds. Many of these men and women are college students or recent graduates.

Unlike the happily ever after that most college newly- weds expect, many students find themselves facing divorce, like recent LSU graduate Michal Dedon. Dedon was married and divorced within a school year as a result of a physically abusive relationship.

Dedon said she gained insight from her short marriage, like having the ability to detect signs of physically abusive behavior, relating to others who experienced similar

relationships and learning to put her ambitions at the fore- front. As a result of her experience, Dedon stresses her view on cohabitating with a significant other before marriage.

“You should always live with someone before you get married,” Dedon said. “You don’t truly know a person be- fore you live with them.”

Different factors play a role in college marriages ending shortly after their start. According to Dedon, it doesn’t matter if you date someone for one or 10 years, you can’t ever truly know your significant other.

“It is more about knowing what you want and realizing if the person you think you want to spend the rest of your life with is on the same path as you,” Dedon said. “I was educated and he was not. We wanted different things in life.”

Hardships Under the Microscope

Marriages between college undergrads raise many questions. Students that choose to tie the knot while still attend- ing college face numerous hardships. It is not all play when you are responsible for yourself and another human being. Marriages require work and work requires time. This time may put studying on the back burner and put grades at risk.

For these reasons, graphic design senior Hanna Browning, soon to be Braud, noticed that many of her peers questioned her engagement for her Aug. 3 wedding.

“My family was very supportive when I announced my engagement,” Browning said. “I could tell my friends were excited too, but at the same time concerned since we’re still in college.”

In addition to putting grades at risk, marrying as undergraduates be- fore financial stability can be nerve wrecking. Making monthly payments for two is a challenge that all under- grad married couples must face.

Marriages cost a ton. According to CNN in 2013, newlyweds spent an average of $28,427 on weddings and related events. After the wedding, couples are usually living together, and living together means double the expenses. Monthly bill payments must be made on time as well as school assignment deadlines.

Mass communication senior Catherine Melancon experienced the financial burden before her marriage even began. During her engagement to her fiancé, Melancon realized that get- ting married right away and starting a family was not necessarily the best decision for her finances. “We decided to push the initial

date back a full year,” Melancon said. “I knew that going into a marriage with financial issues would be a recipe for disaster.”

Moving Forward

Life goes on after marriage. Brown- ing speaks excitedly of her and her fiancés plans after they complete their undergraduate programs.

“After we both graduate, my fiancé wants to go to seminary to become a pastor,” Browning said. “We may move to Dallas for a little bit to try out something different.”

For Rossignoli, he and his wife have unclear plans for their future. Rossignoli would love to stay in the United States and continue studying. He wants to get his master’s degree in Jazz.

The visa process for the Rossignolis will be a hardship of their marriage, but the couple said they are both will- ing to risk it all so they can live happily in the United States doing what they love.

“You can make a living doing what you love here,” Rossignoli said. “I

would love to keep growing as a musician and continue learning the culture.”

Why wed?

Those who choose marriage in college have several reasons for taking the big step. Melancon’s strong faith pushed her to tying the knot with her boyfriend of over eight years.

“For me it is more about the sacrament of matrimony,” Melancon said. “It is about getting married in front of God.”

Marriage opens a lot of doors that may have been shut in the past. It is a new experience where couples have their ups and their downs.

Saying “I do” will not be the only new experience for small town native Browning. She was raised in a conservative household where she still re- sides. Once she and her fiancé tie the knot in August, she will experience many “firsts.”

“Married life won’t be my only first,” Browning said. “It will be interesting living on my own for the first time with my husband by my side.”

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