Marriage-minded college students balance work and play

Whether it’s finding that cute guy or girl in math class, or becoming very friendly with someone you first meet on South Beach, relationships among University of Miami students are common, with some lasting much longer than others.

Many college students across the country are entering into long-term relationships, even becoming engaged or married during or soon after their college years.

“College has made the relationship work more,” said Brian Romot, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. “It also makes you appreciate the time you can spend on the phone or in person with each other a lot more.”

Romot is currently in a six-year relationship with his fiancée Needa Thoguluva, a student at the University of Florida who is majoring in finance. They have known each other for seven years.

“The college responsibilities we have taken are what define us as people,” Romot said. “We both respect each other’s involvement on our respective campuses. Because of this, college responsibilities have made our relationship stronger by affirming the positive traits we have found in one another. We make sure to include time for each other when budgeting our time.”

According to the 2003 U.S. Census Bureau, while college attendance has increased 55 percent over the past thirty years, the percent of married college students has remained at seven percent.

A study published in the Journal of College Student Development stated that married college students have “moderate difficulties” adjusting to the demands of higher education compared to unmarried single students. The study underscored the importance of friends, family and college counseling centers in helping students with their relationships.

These difficulties are due to the increase in personal responsibilities, time commitments and other stress factors that married college students may face. The study also found that married couples usually commute to school, unlike traditional college students who live on campus.

According to, 36.6 percent of women who divorce in America were married when they were 20 to 24 years old. For men from the same age group, the rate is 38.8 percent.

“Before we got engaged, we were worried about what people were thinking, then we realized it really didn’t matter,” said Elena Smukler, a law student who will be getting married 10 days after her final exams this semester.

Smukler was heavily involved in extracurricular activities as an undergraduate at UM. Between schoolwork and a participating in a variety of organizations, she found that she was spending a lot of time with her fiancé doing work.

“[He] just had to get used to it and see how the involvement fit into our relationship and just finding the right balance,” Smukler said. “We spent a lot of time together at Borders or in the library.”

Smukler, a Miami local, has been in a relationship for six and a half years.

Along with the commitment of becoming engaged or married are the many benefits of entering into these relationships while in college. Being able to file as an independent helps students earn more financial aid when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) because its calculations will be based solely on what the couple makes.

For guidance and advice about relationships, students can visit the Counseling Center in room R of building 21 on the Coral Gables campus.