Valentine’s Day always sparks thoughts of young love, the kind of carefree romance comparable to that of Allie and Noah in The Notebook. It’s the kind of love worth celebrating with flowers, chocolates, and a sparkling diamond ring. For students, it’s a reality check.
Choosing post-secondary education can really put our love lives on hold. As a student, I quickly find myself thrown from the love train by the financial speed bump. With most or all of my cash flow dedicated to tuition and books, there is hardly any room for chocolates, candy or a night out. My Valentine’s Day celebrations look a lot like a regular night in with my boyfriend—a Netflix movie and some corn chips. And right now, that’s okay with me. It’s the future of my relationship that I’m a little concerned about.
My boyfriend and I have been together more than seven years. At the age of 21 a fairy- tale wedding is on my radar, but with many years of school ahead of us I know I should think of it as a distant dream.
Hoping for a teaching career, my boyfriend has at least three years of school left to finish. I’m aspiring to take a fifth year of my undergrad or complete a master’s degree, so that leaves at least two more years of education for me. By the time we are in a position to begin our independence we will be 24 years old. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well…
We are the typical university couple. Ninety-nine per cent of our expenses go to education and food. An engagement ring is an afterthought and a wedding is an after-afterthought. By the time we have completed school, gotten engaged, and saved for a wedding we will be well on our way to thirty. I suppose couples getting married later in life is becoming somewhat of a trend, but part of me is still old-fashioned. I know I’m going to want a few years of careless married life before even thinking about starting a family, and by the time I get around to that I imagine I’ll be in my fifties when my children graduate. I always thought I thought I’d be the cool mom, the one with all the energy. I barely have enough energy to chase a toddler around now, let alone when I’m in my 30s and 40s. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself a bit, but I would like to live through my life’s milestones at the ages that I can enjoy them most.
Then again, becoming established before getting into the touchy-feely stuff could end up being for the best. It might mean I will be more prepared for the next stages of my life, and ready to make the best possible decisions for myself. I have come to terms with the fact that education is almost a requirement today and choosing a different path wouldn’t necessarily mean that I would avoid all cons. Either way, there is no doubt that choosing education has meant that many of my other, less business-oriented, choices have already been made for me.