Community News

Through the Eyes of a Non-Traditional Student

Opinion by Alie Pallat

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 | Number of views (2019)

Being married is a big commitment. Being married at 22 is an even bigger one, especially when you’re still in college. I got married when I was 20 years old, almost 21, when I was a junior in college. I was asked by a lot of people if it was because I was “knocked up.” The answer is no. I got married because I am in love with that man. But that made my college experience a little different than others.

When I left for a four-year university in Colorado, my husband and I were dating, but we were already very committed—I had a claddagh ring I wore on my left ring finger. I didn’t date. I wasn’t interested in the boys at my new university. And I didn’t care for the partying that my roommate was doing every night.  I went to class, did homework, worked out, texted him, skyped him…I kept in contact with him all through my day while he was still back in California. My life revolved, and still does revolve, around being academically successful and having a successful relationship with my significant other.

To be honest, I never went off to college with the thought that I would be partying every night-- that’s not who I am, so I never had the inclination to change that. I remember being convinced by a friend at my former university to go to a party, and I remember crying when the police came, even though I was beyond safe because I hadn’t been drinking or even really socializing. That being said, I never understood why my roommate and her friends wanted to party every weekend. Being an only child meant I was around adults a lot when I was younger, and my parents taught me to be mature from a young age. I felt these acts were too childish. Being married solidified my personal sense of maturity in a way. It didn’t change who I was or what I believed. It just meant I knew what I wanted and felt ready to take that step.

Because of this lifestyle choice and experience, I don’t really know what it’s like for other college students. I know what my roommate was like at my former university, and we did not get along. I never wanted that lifestyle. I never wanted to do anything I would regret.

One difference that is obvious is finances. The money in the bank account is not just mine. It is ours. I can’t just go spend it on whatever I want. We have a budget, and I have to adhere to the budget rules that we established together. Since he is the financial pants in the relationship, I always go through him first to double check that we can or can’t afford something. So, no matter how badly I want that pair of shoes, I can’t just buy them without going through him first. Trust me, this is a huge difference than from when my money was my own and I could spend it as I wished. It was definitely a wake up call and one I still struggle with from time to time, even almost two years later.

Another obvious difference is that we don’t party a lot. Maybe it’s just our personalities as natural non-partiers. Our night out is dinner or appetizers and a drink or two at a restaurant. I don’t even think we have that many close friends. The friends we have are either married or in a committed relationship, or they’re friends we didn’t lose when we got married. I don’t know if this is a product of being married so young while still finishing school, or if it is just a part of who we are.

I have had friends from California who tell me I’m too mature for my age or that I should live it up. But maturity is important when graduation is looming over your head, and you have to start thinking about life after college. It’s not that I’m not living up my college years. I just have a different way of doing it.

           People have told me I am crazy for being married so young, and a friend asked how I handle it. I don’t have a response. But I wouldn’t change my decision for anything, even as the concern of what happens after college looms over us both.


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