Stay in School, Don’t Do Love

You can’t serve two masters before you get your Masters.

By Jill Phelan, Saint Vincent College


College students have it hard enough as it is getting their work done and paying for their school expenses without throwing wedding plans into the mix.

That’s why as a recently engaged college student, I’ve been under an extreme amount of stress arranging venue visits around class schedules and wondering how I’m going to afford wedding dress payments and textbooks.

When I dreamed about how fun planning my big day would be, I never thought I would hate it as much as I do (well, maybe not hate, but definitely frustrated). Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely going to be worth the hardship, but it’s just inconvenient as hell.

Debt has become my roommate, any vacation time has turned into hours of back-to-back appointments and a huge chunk of my social and study time has been replaced by working out wedding details with my fiancé, Zack.

With eighteen credits, a part time waitressing job and a wedding to plan, I’m basically drowning. The worst part? I’m not getting that whole college-is-the-best-time-of-your-life feeling that everybody keeps raving about. I can’t help but wonder: If I hadn’t gotten engaged—or even had a boyfriend, for that matter—would college be a completely different experience for me? What is this big rock on my finger really costing me (and Zack)?

Missing Out 

In general, college kids are known for being broke, but every now and then even us indigents like to grab some Taco Bell or go on a Sheetz run. And while that stuff isn’t expensive, it does add up.

Now that I’m engaged, I’m even broker than usual and I really have to limit my spending. In fact, Zack and I even made it a point to designate this month as “Save Money February,” and we’re trying super hard to only buy what we need, nothing more. We did, however, make an exception for Valentine’s Day; we’re getting a five-dollar pizza and a two-dollar movie. I know, turn up, right?

My point is that now I can’t even afford to share in the little moments with my friends that make college fun:

Hey Jill, want to go to the coffee shop? Nope.

How about we take a trip to Pittsburgh? Can’t afford to fill up my gas tank.

The mall? That’s just cruel.

Also, I’ve found that free activities like school Bingo nights or campus game shows aren’t as fun as they could be because after juggling school, work and wedding, I’m exhausted and really have to push myself to do anything extra. Bingo shouldn’t have to feel like a chore!

So ultimately, if I weren’t in any sort of relationship, I would probably be spending more time with my friends and eating more Taco Bell.

Lowered Academic Values

For the record, I am a good student and I keep my grades up. But my mother, like any good mom would do, always makes it a point to remind me that school comes first and everything else comes second. So I’ve never let my relationships affect my grades per se, but grades aren’t the most important part of learning.

Naturally, I try to absorb all the knowledge that I can for my own personal growth, but not necessarily in every subject. English? Absolutely. Science? Eh, not so much.

With all the conflicts of interest in my life right now, I’ve had to rearrange my priorities a little, and my wedding planning has on more than one occasion been placed above classes that I don’t particularly need for my future job.

For subjects like history and science, I really just try to make the grade rather than focus on retaining information. So I skim the readings and study just enough for me to pass the test because I don’t have enough time to devote to those classes unrelated to my major.

But even if I had more time, would I put a greater emphasis on learning? It’s hard to say. Who knows, maybe I’d just be lazy and not finish the homework anyway!

Say Goodbye to Summer Vacations

The next couple summers for me are going to entail lots of running around to bakeries, venues and photographers trying to get most of the grunt work done before I have to go back to school.

In order to pay for all that, I’m going to need to spend twice as much time working. Nothing says fun in the sun like crusty food on my apron eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Not to mention I’m in desperate need of an internship this summer, so I’ll have to squeeze that in somewhere. Needless to say, my summer vacations are going to be nothing but work-ations.

And the wedding isn’t affecting just me; Zack is also sacrificing his summers and he needs an internship, as well. So like the wonderful fiancé I am, I helped him look for some positions to apply for around our area, but I could hardly find anything local. (Side note: Zack is majoring in wildlife, so finding internships for him is sort of tricky.)

I did find, however, that there were a ton of awesome opportunities for him to work out of state—even in other countries. Unfortunately, he has to forego those possibilities in order to save money for the wedding and stick around to visit all the vendors and whatnot with me.

I can’t help but feel like our wedding is holding him back from potentially gaining some amazing job and life experiences because, well, it is.

It’s bad enough that the wedding has been creating roadblocks for me, but it’s worse to think that it’s causing issues for Zack—that’s the biggest drawback of all.

In the end, I’ve found that I can’t really have my cake and eat it too (horrible pun intended). While I love being engaged and I’m so happy that Zack and I are finally going to get married, the timing has proven to be more problematic than I had anticipated.

If I could go back in time and tell my past self what I know now, I might have reconsidered the timing of my engagement, but since I can’t, I’m going to keep pushing through and look forward to my well-deserved wedding. It’s going to be one hell of a celebration!