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The Good Old Days: Remembering College Romance

Why life’s most important relationships start on campus

February 22, 2020

Even though Valentine’s Day is over for another year, it’s always a good time to think back on the memories you’ve made with your special someone. Love is said to strike in unexpected places, yet many lifelong relationships naturally begin where thousands of young people experience living alone for the first time—college.

Although college has a reputation of being a place for casual dating, many student flings actually turn into lifelong partnerships. In fact, according to a recent analysis, 28% of currently married couples met while attending the same college. The study finds that the chances of finding a spouse increase at larger universities (where there is a greater selection of potential matches) or more religiously affiliated institutions (Brigham-Young University tops the list with a 60% alumni marriage rate). Unsurprisingly, the university that presents the best marriage odds for women is the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where 88% of students are men!

Aware of their superior matchmaking ability, many colleges advertise themselves as places where students can meet their forever partner. Occidental College brags about “the Oxy statistic,” which estimates that 50 to 60% of couples who meet at Occidental will eventually marry. Princeton also boasts an impressive relationship rate, rumoring that 75% of Princeton alumni marry other alumni. Such statistics may be a result of psychological preference—people are predisposed to fall in love with those who are similar to them. Having the same educational background means that a couple probably has a lot in common.

Many universities acknowledge the prevalence of student romance with special traditions or legendary romantic spots. For example, one Ohio State University tradition states that if a couple walks across the campus’s Oval lawn while the Orton Tower bells ring, their love will last for eternity. The only catch is that for the legend to come true, no one can cross the enamored couple’s path—a difficult task in a university with a student body of 46,000! 

Other campus traditions provide a similar homage to student romance. At the University of Illinois, a legend states that students who kiss under the glowing eternal flame monument will be together forever. At Murray State University, enamored “sole mates” hang their shoes on the Shoe Tree, a tradition that is said to bring a lifetime of good luck. Similarly, couples that kiss on the bridge overlooking the University of Chicago’s Botany Pond are rumored to end up married. Such traditions celebrate the beauty of college romance and help young lovebirds imagine a future together.

So, it’s unsurprising that college campuses are increasingly used as wedding venues, with couples looking to relive their romantic moments in the places that started it all. 

What brings back romantic memories from your college days?

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