Why women should be going to college to get a degree — not a husband

I came to the College of William and Mary to marry into old tobacco money, or at least that was the running joke in my Pennsylvanian household.

Unfortunately, this sentiment isn’t always a joke. For some women, the “MRS” degree is still the real objective of a college education, an objective that society pushes women to view as acceptable and, even worse, preferable to the self-betterment of a real degree.

In 2011, Dr. Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics published a report that showed greater numbers of women choosing to marry men with a higher earning capacity than themselves than in the 1940s. Call me crazy, but I’m sure this type of trend is completely unrelated to the publishing of books such as Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake’s book “Smart Girls Marry Money: How Women Have Been Duped Into The Romantic Dream — And How They’re Paying For It.”

It should be clarified that this book doesn’t necessarily say, “Go be a gold digger,” but to tell a woman that she should marry someone who will financially support her isn’t exactly telling her not to be a gold digger, either. So where exactly can a woman find a man with a high earning capacity?

That’s simple: college.

Society tends to equate higher levels of education with higher earning capacity. The continual search for a bread-winning, educated husband yielded the infamous MRS degree — the idea that women should go to college not to learn, but to find a husband.

It strikes me as odd that smart women, who attend some of the most esteemed colleges of our country, are willing to buy into this pathetic scheme. I support the idea of marrying someone who is financially stable; that’s called planning your life. I don’t, however, support the idea of giving up your own motivation to become a contributing member of society just because you find someone who is financially stable — that’s called being lazy.

Books like “Smart Girls Marry Money” only tell women one side of the story: A well-to-do husband may make life a lot easier for you in the long run. They should be telling women that life will be easier both partners are individually financially stable. Relationships with a clear bread-winner aren’t always healthy relationships. Income differences can lead to financial dependency, which can lead to a whole other array of problems.

Women need to realize that the MRS degree is a cop out. It’s a colossal waste of your money, your professors’ time and your intelligence to go to college for the sole purpose of finding a husband. If you happen to find one while you’re there, good for you, but don’t lose track of the importance of what an education can do for you, both financially and individually.

So to all the women at the College who have declared their MRS — stop being lazy. You got into this school for a reason, not for a man.

Email Kaitlan Shaub at kcshaub@email.wm.edu.


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