Graduate a bachelorette with a bachelor’s

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By Rebecca Kapolnek

Let me preface this column by saying I do not have a problem with romantic relationships in college. If you find “the one” and are able to make it work, then that is something special and you should be extremely happy.

However, one phrase has really been bothering me over the past few weeks. I have heard countless friends, random girls on the street and women in my classes utter these words and it is time to put an end to it.

“I am just here to get my Mrs. Degree, after all.”

Sigh.

It is not just Illinois that is having this problem. Terms like getting a “Mrs. Degree” and “Ring by Spring” have been gaining in popularity in universities around the country.

Originating in small Christian schools, “Ring by Spring” is now a term I am hearing here, at one of the best public colleges in the state. These terms are rooted in the idea that people are coming into college to find a person whom they will later marry.

I find this attitude ridiculous and contradictory to the entire purpose of getting a higher education. We pursue education past high school to hopefully secure a full-time job, but having this mentality makes a joke out of the idea of college.

While some might argue that college is the time to meet that special someone, I would argue that one must be established and able to support themselves before adding another person into the mix.

We pay thousands of dollars annually to attend the University and get our degree — a degree many are claiming they would be willing to throw away if they found their spouse before graduation.

Hearing many of my friends and acquaintances say that they would be OK with never working a day in their life really frustrates me.

Women should feel empowered and confident enough in their abilities to want to prove themselves in the professional world after graduation. I am lucky to know many professional businesswomen and have seen their careers take off because of the education they received at their universities.

March 8 was International Women’s Day, which highlighted equal gender rights. This has been a hot topic in the media lately, and encouraging women’s further education only helps this movement.

I don’t know how women can feel empowered in an arguably male-dominated workforce when some of us emphasize attitudes that diminish the value of education and equal rights, instead placing value in perpetuating potentially harmful stereotypes.

The wage gap has always been a passionately discussed topic around the country. Currently, the observed wage gap is 82 cents for women to every dollar a man makes. This is a very unfortunate circumstance for women who work extremely hard at receiving a higher education.

In 2012, around 10 million female students registered for college and only 7.7 million men. With more women pursuing these degrees, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the progress we’re making.

Spreading these attitudes that a degree is a means to a marriage doesn’t work toward progress. Women need to ban together and combat these opinions and prove that we will use everything we get from our degrees.

I am not saying that we need to shy away from forming meaningful relationships with one another; I just believe that it should not be some people’s main focus.

Coming to college simply to find a spouse, or saying that you would be fine not using the degree you paid so much money for and spent so much time on, completely contradicts the point of education. There are so many people who are unable to get degrees for one reason or another. It is a shame that so many people are OK with just diminishing all the hard work put in.

Settling down and starting a family is a great thing that I myself want to do someday, but not at the expense of the education I have received thus far. My desire to be able to support myself, on my own, far outweighs any desire to rush into a romantic relationship.

I believe all college women need to think about these issues before they say things about getting a “Mrs. Degree.” We need to empower each other to be the best versions of ourselves, with or without a significant other.

We go to one of the best schools in the country, are getting a top-notch education and have so many employment opportunities. Women need to stay confident and use their degrees, proving that men do not define their success.

Hearing our peers say they need that ring before spring should serve as motivation for women to make a long-term career plan, attend job fairs and start focusing on our futures. It is time to realize that you can have a career and a relationship without sacrificing one or the other.

Rebecca is a senior in LAS.

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