Looking for love in grad school

young people in jeans holding each otherMost people go to graduate school to further their education or to take a step toward a career. But are people spending the time and money on grad school specifically to find a spouse?

According to SavvySugar, finding love is one of many incentives to go to grad school. The writer said that they had personally heard from people who said that their primary reason was to find love. "You'll be meeting lots of people with similar interest [sic] and goals so who knows what kind of romance will blossom from those late night study sessions," they said.

Perhaps it's a shaky reason to solely spend money on grad school -- grad school is a venue for people to pursue passions, not just potential mates. Tara Kuther, Ph.D., wrote that even "intellectual curiosity," being unsure about what to do next, or not feeling ready for a job are bad reasons for attending grad school. It's probably a given that "looking for a partner" isn't a sound enough reason to make such a big commitment.

But finding a mate, as a commenter on SavvySugar put it, is "an added bonus" to earning a degree in grad school. After all, there are many happy couples who have met in grad school.

If that's the only reason to attend grad school, it's an expensive date. A story from the August 2009 issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine said the average cost of grad school is $28,375 for a master's degree at a public school and $38,665 at a private school.

The couple behind J.S. Photography in Gainesville, Fla. -- Jeff and Sabrina Williams-- met at the University of Florida while they were earning their MFAs in photography. Here's what Jeff Williams wrote about their relationship on their site:

"Sabrina and I met in grad school at UF about 8 years ago. We both studied photography and I had a crush on her right away, she had really cool artwork plus she has a really nice Brazilian accent so I made sure we became friends. After five years of dating, I finally asked her to marry me, and we had a really fun wedding in Sabrina's hometown of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Together we have 2 boys and a cat."

And, again, obviously, meeting a spouse in grad school isn't limited to straight couples, either. In March, the Washington Post published a profile of Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, the first same-sex couple in Washington, D.C. to apply for a marriage license. The profile details them meeting in grad school during a classroom debate of constitutional law.

Is it a cultural belief that people should be attending grad school to find "the one?" Maybe not. Wedding Bee's forum has a thread where some users discuss whether or not they felt pressure to find a spouse in college. In a poll asking "Did you feel pressure to meet your spouse in grad college," 64% said no, they didn't feel pressured to find a mate, while 24% said yes, they did.

So let's say you do want to meet your future spouse in grad school, but you're not finding any desirable candidates in the classroom. Where should you look? Lori Gottlieb at BreakupGirl.net had a few suggestions for meeting people a bit older than undergrad students:

  • Participate in activities where you'll meet people who no longer carry fake ID's.
  • Go to the hip bookstore near campus where graduate students and young professionals from "the real world" hang out.
  • Check out the latest books, magazines, and author signings and make conversation with the person next to you.
  • Sit down with a latte on a Sunday morning or after dinner on a weeknight and smile back at the guy across the way.

She also recommends -- surprise-- Facebook as a tool for finding interesting people.
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