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Also, almost all of the responses were critical of the “ring by spring” culture. Tell me a little bit more about the scope of the survey and the limits of it. I created an anonymous online survey and sent the link out to my students and colleagues, requesting that they ask their students to complete the survey.

[And yet] it seems to me that this culture is very prevalent. Anyone with the link on campus could respond; 171 people completed the survey, though not all of them answered all of the questions.

I was shocked that it still existed, you know, 15 years later. People started to make me more afraid that I wouldn’t find a spouse, saying, “Well, you’re never going to be around so many people of your same age with your same interests that come from a Christian background.” And there’s truth to that.

When you were an undergraduate, what did you do with the “ring by spring” message? But people made that seem so limiting, like we didn’t have life after 22 unless we had a spouse.

I suspect that students who have had close encounters with the culture are more likely to participate.

That said, at least 67 percent of students said they feel at least a little bit of pressure to marry, and 15 percent of women students say they “definitely” feel pressured to marry.

If somebody were to push back and say, “No, young marriage is great,” I would say for some, yeah, it very well could be, if both people understand what they’re getting into.

At Whitworth University, a Christian liberal arts college in Spokane, Washington, one hears faint echoes of a social expectation that’s common to Christian campuses: “ring by spring.” It’s the idea that college students should have given or received an engagement ring by the spring of their senior year.

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