Married Life on Campus

In honor of our centennial, we’ve dug deep into a century’s worth of Alcalde issues to bring you a fascinating look at how the Forty Acres has changed over the years.


Campus_Marriage_MoneyMany an ex-student would be incredulous if told on his return to UT that one in every four of the students he will pass on campus is married. Statistics back up this assertion: of the 18,442 students enrolled last semester, 4,659 of them were married.

It was not too many years ago that college marriage was unheard of. A man should not take a wife, it was believed, until he was completely able to support her and had his education well behind him.

Today, and so it has been since the close of World War II, students feel there is no point in waiting when they can be happy and struggle together. The peak influx of veterans in 1946 encouraged student marriage, for vets could, under the GI Bill of Rights, get $25 more a month if married and attending school. Under the circumstances, wives became breadwinners, and husbands began helping with the housework. The role of the husband had changed; it was the only logical solution.

Although the veteran is vanishing, student marriages are not. Sociologists can explain as one cause of this, the pessimism of an age, which wants the immediate goal when it cannot foretell the future. A new attitude has formed about support by parents during college, where pride is now no longer involved with many students. A new attitude has also evolved about education, that its essentiality merits the struggle.

“I don’t think parental subsidy is an important issue,” said one married pharmacy student. “About 90 percent of my friends are receiving help from home either in the form of money, clothes, or groceries.” He added that many married students plan to work for their fathers after college, so the aid is just an early salary for them and an investment for the parents. Many male students hold part-time jobs to supplement the income of parental support.

Campus_marriage_hatWhile the vast majority of married students are male, the 751 married women students say “advance budgeting of time” allows them to play their dual roles. Wives in school must keep the house, attend the children (if there are any), cook the meals, and do other household chores, in addition to studying.

“My only problem is that I feel I am cheating my husband because I can’t spend more time in the kitchen,” said a graduating senior, mother of one child. She has a maid to take care of the year-old son. Evenings of the couple are usually devoted to study.

Top, The Robertsons illustrate a problem for most married students. Bottom, Helen interrupts Bob’s study to model a hat.


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