In the last intermediary between childhood and adult life, college students often form lifelong attachments, and in some cases, even find their future spouses.
What is it really like being an engaged undergraduate at Northwestern? For Rachel Koontz, Weinberg senior, although other students seem “more aware” of her relationship, life “doesn’t seem too different” than it was before she was engaged to her fiancé, Communication senior Josh Ströud.
Although Koontz acknowledges that undergraduate engagements are “not the norm at Northwestern,” she and Josh, who have been doing premarital counseling in preparation for their married life, remain positive. The two plan to stay in Evanston after commencement, hoping to “ease the transition” of graduation and job-seeking.
For Koontz, Northwestern itself remains a common experience for herself and her fiancé, a place of memories that the two will share for years. Although they are still “in the process” of wedding plans, the ceremony will take place at the Evanston Art Center.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing to be dedicated enough to a relationship to make this step,” she says. “I think it’s sad there aren’t more relationships like these at Northwestern.”
Koontz and Ströud make up a small percentage of engaged undergraduates. As a minority, Koontz maintains optimism. “Whatever challenges we face, we have each other for support,” she says.
What was it like for preceding generations? George and Carol Cameron met as freshmen in 1980, when they lived in the same hallway in Bobb-McCulloch. Their daughter Jenny is now a Weinberg sophomore 30 years later.
When the Camerons were at Northwestern, most of their peers were not in “a committed relationship.” Carol describes their friends’ reactions to their engagement as “a combination of bemused or surprised by the entire thing,” but reiterates that “[finding George] was just one of those things where you meet the person and you’re done. Whether you’re 18 or 50.”
George’s and Carol’s parents’ reaction to the news of their engagement was less ideal at first. “Our families were not too thrilled,” says Carol. However, George adds that their qualms “had nothing to do with the picking of the mate” and that “it was more the timing” that made his mother “a little nervous.” Later on, though, they warmed to the idea. “They were supportive, but nervous and apprehensive would be a good way to characterize it,” says George.
When asked if they would approve of their own children getting engaged at the age they did, the Camerons were unsure. “It’s hard to tell because it worked out so well for us. It’s situational,” says Carol. “If I was happy with the partner selection and that person was treating them well, then the timing wouldn’t bother me,” says George. “The fact that they got engaged in college wouldn’t bother me.”