‘Ring by spring’ culture is unhealthy for Baylor students

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

By Emily Honeywell | Contributor

For Baylor students, the phrase “ring by spring” brings about many different emotions. This idea is widely known across campus: If a couple is dating by the time they graduate, the expectation is that they should get engaged. This stigma leaves people in one of two places. Those in relationships face the pressure to know who they’re going to marry at age 22. Those not in relationships feel their college career was unsuccessful if they have not secured a spouse during their four years at Baylor. This expectation of Baylor students puts unnecessary pressure on students in both situations and contributes to dissatisfaction of their college experience.

I’ve spent time on both sides of this standard. My freshman and sophomore year, I dreamed of finding my future husband during college. I would sit around thinking I wasn’t pretty enough, quirky enough or strong enough in my faith to be asked on dates. The pressure of finding a boyfriend constantly weighed me down. About a year ago, I started dating someone. Even though he’s two years younger than me and doesn’t attend Baylor, I still feel the constant pressure that “ring by spring” culture entails. Most Baylor students who are dating during their senior year like I am either break up or get engaged. I don’t want either of those things right now, but I still face the feeling everyday that there’s something wrong with me.

I took an informal Instagram survey of Baylor students, both single and in relationships, who provided many reasons “ring by spring” culture is harmful. I received 40 responses within an hour. Some of them are below:

  • It makes people feel lesser than or unsatisfied if they aren’t in a relationship by the end of college.
  • The transition to life after college is already difficult without adding the role of becoming a new husband or wife.
  • You are not financially stable right after graduation.
  • It denies a healthy dating culture on campus.
  • It puts unnecessary pressure on relationships and rushes people into a lifelong commitment when they aren’t ready.
  • There’s no chance to see what your relationship is like in the real world.
  • There’s less time to grow as an individual.
  • College should be about finding a job and not a spouse.
  • Couples are less likely to do premarital counseling.
  • It gives a false sense that this culture is the societal norm.

A culture shift must occur. We need to reaffirm to students that it is OK to not be engaged by the time you graduate. The way we can change this culture starts with each of us. We must realize that this aspect of Baylor is not healthy and creates too much pressure for Baylor students. We can’t give into the perception that we have to be engaged at any point during our college careers. In addition, we shouldn’t put the pressure on others to get engaged regardless of their relationship status their senior year. Lessening this pressure could lead students to be happier and have a more positive view of themselves, their Baylor experience, life post-grad and their future marriages.

Emily Honeywell
Senior marketing and supply chain management double major