Students balance class, work, social life, and marriage

Photo by Carl Zoch
Clark and Hillary Underwood. (Photo by Carl Zoch)

By Brad Crofford

It’s often been joked that college students can only choose two of the following three things: sleep, a social life and good grades. Some students balance an extra thing: marriage. This is the first article in a two-part feature about married student life at SNU.

One of the challenges of being married while in school is trying to find time to socialize. Josue Murillo, a senior Latino studies/Latino ministry major who has been married to Ginger (Villacampa) Murillo for two years and two months, said that he and his wife connect more with married or engaged couples than single students.

“They understand where we are coming from,” said Ginger Murillo, senior psychology major, explaining that they share similar experiences like paying for rent and utilities.

Being involved on campus can also be difficult for married students.  “It is so much harder to stay involved in campus activities,” Bre (Simmons) Frees, senior Biology-Chemistry major said. “I feel like I never know what is going on because I do not go into the Commons very often, which is where all the event advertising is done. It is also harder to study in groups outside of class. Also, not eating on campus makes it harder to hang out with friends that I would not otherwise see.”

Other married students had similar experiences.

“We don’t socialize as much as we used to on campus. We’re here for school and homework. The only time we socialize with friends here is at commuter lunch,” Josue Murillo said.

“I would say it is harder to find time to see friends and talk with them, especially since we do not eat on campus,” Marissa (Summerford) Callen, senior elementary education major, said. “It really just feels like we are starting our adult life and waiting on our friends to get there too.”

Hillary (Johnson) Underwood, senior psychology major said, “I’m straddling real world and college world. I haven’t been able to be involved as much.”

However, just because married students are living off-campus and have different schedules does not mean they do not want to socialize with friends.

It’s a misconception that “once you’re married you don’t have time for friends or a social life,” Underwood said. “We still definitely like to hang out with people.”

Interactions with professors and students

The married students we interviewed have had differing experiences with how students and professors have treated them. Underwood said that she did not notice any difference in how she was treated by students and professors. Callen wrote that she also did not feel she was treated differently.

“Neither of us feel like we are being treated differently besides the married jokes we get from our friends,” Callen said. “I have been asked for my opinion sometimes from professors who want to see things from a married perspective, but things are pretty much the same as they were before.”

The Murillos have noticed some positive differences.

“I get more respect from professors. They see me as an adult,” Josue Murillo said. “Students come to me for advice about marriage and relationships.”

Ginger Murillo added, “The professors don’t take away from their rules, but they are more considerate about things like our daughter’s doctors appointments.”

Not all the differences are positive, however.

“I have had a few professors who mentioned being married may be hindering my study time and interaction with classmates,” Frees said. “Most of my friends do not really treat me any differently now that I am married. I feel like professors have to have confidence that students who are married have the drive and determination to continue to perform well in their classes. Just because I am married does not mean I am a different type of student; I’m going to succeed either way.”