Is college really the best time to find a mate?

A Princeton graduate sent a letter to current women students at the school advising them to find their husbands while they are at an Ivy League school.


“Here’s what nobody is telling you,” wrote [Susan] Patton, who graduated in 1977 and whose son is a current Princeton student. “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”

“The letter was prompted by Patton’s recent speaking engagement at Princeton during a women and leadership conference, according to an interview she gave to the New York Daily News….”

“Patton said the letter was meant specifically for the Princeton community because of the unique nature of the students gathered to study at the Ivy League school. Princeton announced last week its class of 2017 admission acceptance is the school’s most selective ever with 7.3 percent of the 26,498 applicants being offered a chance to attend. “

“This letter was intended for a very small audience,” Patton told CNN. “Take a good look on campus now for a potential life partner. You have access to this extraordinary community of extraordinary people. Find a man who isn’t threatened by your capacity for greatness.”

Patton explained that women worked on their careers for years and then looked around and realized all the great guys were back in college.

So here is my question: She specifically says that this is focused on Ivy League schools but do you think it’s true for regular colleges as well? Do you have a better chance of finding a smart, successful mate at the University of Georgia or out in the work place?

Where do you fall on the whole getting married young (as in after college) or waiting until you are older?

34 comments Add your comment

TnT's Mom

April 3rd, 2013
12:32 pm

It Depends. First of all no one should be “Looking” for a mate. Meet people, date and if you fall in love, it shouldn’t matter where you are in life or your age.

I met my husband in college and was married at 21. he was 27. That worked for us and we are still happily marreid 22 years later. But others might not be in college.

My only caution about marriage is those that marry the the first realy sweetheart they date. I think you need to date and have relationships with several types of people to determine what is the best fit for you.


April 3rd, 2013
12:36 pm

I thought this story was discussed to death in every other news outlet already. A little late to the game here.


April 3rd, 2013
12:47 pm

I don’t think you should get married until around 27 or 28. Just my opinion. I think women should date and enjoy life. What’s the rush?


April 3rd, 2013
12:57 pm

What happened to raising strong independant women? Now we tell our daughters to find a husband in college???. Naw, not gonna happen. I wanted my kids to focus on their studies so they could be something later in life. Not divorced. No rush to find a mate. Date, enjoy YOUR life. It will come……

One of the reasons the divorce rate is so high……..people are getting married, just to have their “Pretty, Pretty Princess” day. less than 4 years later, the divorce comes, costing about the same and the wedding…….complete waste of time and money.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 3rd, 2013
1:12 pm

I am really wondering about marrying young — We got married when I had just turned 22 and had literally just graduated from college. Michael is 2 years ahead of me — Do young couples grow together? Is it harder for older people to settle into marriage because they are already set in their ways? Or are you better at marriage because you have developed more as an individual?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 3rd, 2013
1:15 pm

RJ — but then do they have to rush to have babies and don’t get any time as a couple?? that’s the trade off there — you marry later and then comes stress to get pregnant sooner — We did have 7/8 years as a couple before our oldest came which was nice. Kids are soo stressful and change so much in your relationship that it worries me when couples have to dive right in to babyland.


April 3rd, 2013
1:21 pm

I went to college for an education, not a husband! I thought the days of the girls going to get their MRS. degree were over??? Who says you even have to get married and have kids at all? I’d put the age minimum of 30 on waiting to get married. It would be even better if marriage was a lease to buy option, like a car. :) That would help the divorce rates.


April 3rd, 2013
1:24 pm

Well, I married 3 months before finishing college at age 21. That was too young, I think now. I had known my husband since we were about,12, and dated 4 years. The marriage lasted 14 years.

My kids have all waited awhile. My elder daughter was 30, my son was 28, and my younger daughter was 25. None of them met their mates in college, although my son married a woman he had known since he was 16.


April 3rd, 2013
1:27 pm

I think after college is better. You don’t know how the person will be in the “real world’.
My sister married a nice/fun guy from college.

Turns out he was lazy and financially irresponsible. A decade and a half later, they’re divorced, he’s permanently behind on child support and she has a lien on her house because he ran up hidden debt that he didn’t pay off while they were married.


April 3rd, 2013
1:30 pm

I also think couples that “wait” get married too soon a lot.

Much more to a life partner than a roll in the hay. Have pre-marital sex. You people need to base their decisions on real things…not pent up lust.


April 3rd, 2013
1:34 pm

As to your comment about starting a family, my older daughter felt the press of time ( she was 30, he was 40. They had dated for more than 2 years.) granddaughter,was born 9 1/2 months later. Son and wife waited a couple of years before starting their family. Younger daughter and husband don’t plan to ever have children. I support that. I was married 3 years before we started our family.

I think each couple needs to figure out what is best for them.


April 3rd, 2013
1:38 pm

“You people” was supposed to read “People”. Freudian maybe?


April 3rd, 2013
1:51 pm

Proves you can tell a Princetion woman, you just can’t tell her much. Anyone this easily led should be sterilized.

Bill James

April 3rd, 2013
1:52 pm

Something like this can’t have a time limit imposed. When you’re talking about issues pertaining to emotions, you can’t feel pressure and expect to make good decisions. To tell people they should find a husband by a time, or because of a certain location, is not conducive to healthy relationships.


April 3rd, 2013
1:56 pm

My extended family sent me to a good Christian school hoping I would “find a good Christian man to take care of me.” I resented that because my parents raised me to be independent. I wanted to do something with my life and wanted to feel like I brought something to a relationship and that I don’t “owe a man” anything.
Needless to say, I was 36 when I finally got married. I dated a lot in and out of college. Out of college, it was really hard because the pool of eligible, ambitious, smart Christian guys dwindled. Many of those types do get married younger. Since I went to a Christian college, they were all in one place – same school, same church – during that time whereas they are scattered afterward.
Looking back, I wished I had found my mate in college. It would have saved years of heartache and depression (roughly ages 28 through 35). I think you stand a chance at finding more compatible mates if you find them in college just because there is a lot of commonality there already. You pick the same school, you’re likely to have the same values, same friends, some of the same classes which could mean maybe the same drive or ambitions.
It is hard when you marry older. My husband and I were both set in some habits, used to the control, used to our routines and took a few years to learn the art of compromise.
The worst part, for me, is no children. We wanted to have children within the first couple of years of marriage but a variety of things out of our control happened, and there are fertility issues with older couples. Couldn’t adopt either because of financial issues occurring at the time (including recession, job losses etc.) I mourn that every day.
To me, the perfect age to marry would be 25. That way you can start a relationship in college, work and live on your own (which I do advise both men and women to do), plan your future career and finances, and continue that college relationship for an extended period of time before saying I do.


April 3rd, 2013
2:08 pm

While I do think too many people are waiting too long to have children (which is why we see so many women in the lates 30s and 40s turning to fertility meds), feeling like you have to find the right person and get married at 21 or 22, isn’t the solution either. There is some truth in pointing out that college provides a bigger pool of people like you than anywhere else but does that mean it’s the ONLY place to meet your mate? Nah.

I do wish I had waited longer before marrying when I did @21. Even though I’d already been working full-time for several years, was about to graduate from college and had a child, I still thought more about the “here and now” than the later. We may have been like-minded in college but a few years into the workforce and post-college made me realize how very different we are.


April 3rd, 2013
2:21 pm

I found my first mate there. Found the second one at the office. Whether there will be a third is unknown, but unlikely.


April 3rd, 2013
2:22 pm

@melshop – I think we’ll see more and more women with your story in the next 10 years or so. I think waiting to get married until you’re 25 and then a couple/few years to have kids is great but it really makes for a tough time frame considering women’s fertility starts to decline at 30.

Real Life

April 3rd, 2013
2:28 pm

Good question with no exact answer. Many friends of both genders met their spouses in college. Some are still married and others have moved on. I did not marry until my late 20s despite family pressure to find a spouse before all the good ones were taken.

Meeting a future spouse in college is one thing, but I am convinced that the marriage should wait just a bit until jobs are settled and the couple sees if they still have mutual goals in life once they are in the working world.

The woman that wrote that letter seems to harbor a great deal of resentment towards her ex-husband to whom she was married for quite a while. Based on the attitude she expressed in the letter, maybe it was her arrogance that doomed that relationship.

Maturity comes with time and experience. Waiting to marry until both have experience in the real world and are able to cope with the ups and downs that occur outside of the college cocoon is probably a good thing.


April 3rd, 2013
2:33 pm

The folks I know who have lasting marriages grew old together. Some met in HS (many from HS married classmates…or a few years ahead/behind themselves) but after college. When she is younger and he is older seems to work better too.

Mostly the key to success (from what I have seen…since we know I am not married)…is that you both have to be IN the relationship WORKING to make it happen.


April 3rd, 2013
2:36 pm

worked for my wife and I (so far). but have to say, other than purely religious beliefs, I have no idea why a young man would get married, given the legal system and the likelihood that he’ll end up paying for many years after the divorce. Seriously, no he would be crazy to ever get married.


April 3rd, 2013
2:53 pm

@Real Life…I agree: Maturity comes with time and experience. Waiting to marry until both have experience in the real world and are able to cope with the ups and downs that occur outside of the college cocoon is probably a good thing.

I met my husband in college. We were 23 and 22 when we married. We had both dated several others, during HS and college. Looking back, I think we were young. At the time, most of our friends and family were getting married.

We had $500.00 between us and not much else. We have come through a lot and are finally more financially secure. ( crossing my fingers as things could change any day). We were broke most of the time our kids were small and this contributed to friction. We also came from VASTLY different family styles. Opposites attract would be an understatement. Each of us had NO idea what the other person was simply used to. My family was OCD and his family was willy nilly. NO planning for anything. YIKES!

Neither of my kids are in a relationship now. My son has worked his butt of and is almost at the finish line. He has dated but not seriously. He will be 26 with a solid career and nice paycheck. Several of his undergraduate friends have married or are marrying. Some of his friends who are in Pharmacy school are engaged and/or married. I sense that he is now ready to think about this next step. So, I am hopeful he can find someone who can make him happy and who is a nice person too. He deserves it.

My daughter will be 21. Not many of her friends are dating at all. They have lots of friends both girls and boys but ( as far as I see it) nothing serious. One friend got engaged last week. She knew her fiance from HS and they will wait until they finish college to marry ( I have been told).

I often wonder this: If you meet someone in HS and they are the ONLY person you have ever dated and then you finish college and then marry them…is that the best? I do not know but do know some couples who fall into this category. I believe I would prefer my two to date more than just one person, before they make a choice to marry.

I know young people, my own kid’s age, who are not married but also have several friends whose kids are getting married. Who knows?

Mother of 2

April 3rd, 2013
3:10 pm

This woman presumes that only an Ivy League student will not be intimidated by a woman’s greatness, or be her intellectual equal. People can find a soul mate at any time in their lives, in many different places. Why limit yourself if you aren’t ready for the commitment?

Real Life

April 3rd, 2013
3:16 pm

Very well put Mother of 2!

Common Sense

April 3rd, 2013
3:26 pm

Worked for my wife. 26 years and counting.


April 3rd, 2013
4:47 pm

“Do you have a better chance of finding a
smart, successful mate
at the University of Georgia
or out in the work place?”

Easy Question: Out in the work place


April 3rd, 2013
5:30 pm

Of course, both my daughters graduated from women’s colleges!


April 3rd, 2013
5:32 pm

I met my husband in college — would you believe, the second day of my freshman year? He was a senior, though, and once he graduated, we had a long-distance relationship for several years after that. In the meantime, we both dated other people, broke up, got back together, blah, blah, blah, until we were suddenly 25/26 and knew that a) the time was right and b) the person was right. :-) So, yes, I met my husband in college, and yes, I do think he’s academically more gifted than me. But I bring quite a bit to the table, too, so it’s never intimidated me. I found it amazing that, at a 30-year high school reunion, TWO guys that I always had thought were soooo hot both admitted to me that they never approached me because thought I was “intimidating” because I was “so smart”. Huh? Who, ME? As it turns out, that’s fine — I met and married someone I didn’t intimidate :-)

These days, I’m just as glad that both of mine are unencumbered and are free to explore their dreams and career options without having to compromise with “But I don’t WANT to live there” or “I can’t get a job there” or “what about MY career?” angst. My son is not in a relationship — but that means that he’s free to pick up and do whatever he pleases whenever he pleases. This weekend, it pleases him to go to the west coast and hang out with buddies. Last month, it pleased him to go skiing for a weekend. During March Madness, it pleased him to hang out at a sports bar with friends and enjoy the games. He has complete freedom of job choices – and if he wants a date, there are thousands of smart, attractive women to choose from who value the same freedom at this point in their life.

My daughter is graduating from college in May, and is taken aback at the flurry of engagements amongst her friends. “Why get married NOW?” she wonders, “when the fun of being a grownup is finally starting!!” That’s my girl!

I do think the analysis of availability is correct, though — the pool of available women only increases for a guy, whereas the pool of available men seems to decrease. No one bats an eye if a 40 year old man dates a 29 year old. But let a 40 year old woman date a 29 year old man, and you get accusations of cradle-robbing, “boy toys”, etc. So much for equality :-)

Ron Jeremy

April 3rd, 2013
6:24 pm


You married to early – probably only had carnal knowledge with 3 or 4 guys, neither of which knew what they were doing. Now you read 50 Shades of Gray and wonder what it could have been like. Michael searches the internet for Swing Parties and really twisted porn since he realize he didn’t get it all out of his system, hiding it from you. Or perhaps you are the Mommy who searches out porn on your iPhone during a kids doctor’s appointment.

Either way, you guys got married too young and the perfect little life in the burbs is freakier than anyone could imagine. Perhaps with Michael’s responsibilities you two are now into BDSM with you as the Dom???

There is something freaky inside your closet… you just hide it really well.

reality check

April 3rd, 2013
6:44 pm

My observation and belief is, in general, couples are better off if they meet after college. The reason is simple. Adolescense lasts until someone is on their own. In the case of somebody in college and still being supported by parents they are still adolescents. After they are on their own they change, and many times the changes are significant. Love is usually blind to those changes, but they definitely happen.

Met the love of my life ...

April 3rd, 2013
6:50 pm

…at age 23 in grad school – dated for a while and could not pull the trigger on marriage, even though I tried. Left the relationship at age 26 and waited until age 30 to get married to a really fine person – now, 30 + years and two kids out of college later, I still miss that “love of my life” and wonder why I was so stupid – talk about wasting your life, but this is probably all a fantasy for me since it probably would not have worked out anyway – yet, I still wonder about it every freakin’ day…


April 3rd, 2013
7:27 pm

I married a 38 year old man when I was 31… Neither of us had been married before. We were both well established in our careers, owned homes, dated others but never found the right person. We have been happily married for 18 years and have three wonderful children. I quit to stay at home. We have all the money we need and are two peas In a pod. Many of my “Ivy League” colleagues are very miserable people..and their children are misfits.

Big Mama

April 3rd, 2013
8:00 pm

I met my husband in college and we dated for many many years until we decided to marry. It was a long engagement. By the time I hit 30, I really didn’t see the point in marrying. But then I decided I wanted children and would do the traditional thing and marry first. Married at 34. Had my first child at 35, second at 39. Never had fertility problems and I wonder how many women do because of age. I often wonder if they only tell women that to push them to do the conventional thing and marry while they are young. I was amazed at how many women urged me to marry before I turned 30. I resisted. Never regretted not marrying or having children earlier.


April 3rd, 2013
8:41 pm

@ Ron Jeremy, wow, you sure have everything figured out.

I may have been 26 when I got married but I started dating my husband when we were 15 and 17. The sex thing has never been an issue for me (never regretted not having several partners) but I often wonder if my taste in men would have changed during or after college. My husband and I grew up together but also let each other grow emotionally, academically and in terms of careers prior to getting married. And we definitely had plenty of time together before having children (13 yrs total). Everything in life is a trade off. I have such a wonderful life. I’m sure there are plenty of women who traveled the world and dated dozens of men who would want exactly what I have. I’ve always been a very content person. Never have I felt something was missing.
I can appreciate the content of this article from a statistical standpoint of available intelligent men but, really, who wants to plan you’re life partner based on statistics. I would hate to be single now. I would have to rely on internet dating as all the men I work with are either gay or cops. (love cops but I’d never marry one). Just happy my childhood sweetheart turned out to be a good catch. (or maybe I should be proud to have shaped him into a good catch). Either way it worked for us.