Tying the knot before the tassel

Is college the right time to say ‘I do’?

At the age of 19, Jake Meurett had already found, married and moved in with the love of his life; all before his sophomore year in college.

Meurett married his high school sweetheart, Samantha, the summer after his freshman year, a time when many students are soaking in the college experience instead of deciding who will take their hand in holy matrimony.

Now after four years of marriage, Jake Meurett is in his senior year at UW-Eau Claire and said he doesn’t regret taking an untraditional route through life.

“It’s really nice to come home after a long night at school to your best friend,” Jake Meurett said. “It’s like living with a long term girlfriend. Being married is just a title; it’s basically the same thing as long as your feelings don’t change.”

While uncommon, it’s not impossible for a couple to get married while still in college and have a successful relationship before hitting the real world.  Yet, the cost of a wedding and the commitment to marriage is no small token.

Jake Meurett said he and his wife have been able to take advantage and benefit from their early partnership.

“At the beginning we took a lot of the same general education classes,” Jake Meurett said. “We took a foreign language class and it was pretty convenient having your study partner living in the same house as you.”

But with all the challenges that face any college student, there are also those to overcome as a couple.  Between studies, finances and overall health Meurett wouldn’t recommend everyone following his path through school as a guideline.

“Sam and I are a special case,” Meurett said. “I’m sure there are others like us, but I don’t think everyone should be doing this during such a transformative time of their lives.”

Mike Gehrke is a senior bachelor of fine arts student with an emphasis in illustration who is finishing his degree after taking a break for marriage.  Reflecting back, Gehrke said he doesn’t know if he would have liked balancing school and marriage.

“Being married while in school would have been difficult with all the time commitments,” Gehrke said. “It would be hard being at school when you are just wanting to be home.”

Gehrke, who is no longer married, was in a different position than Megan Overstreet, who is finishing up her psychology degree while also planning her wedding for next June. Overstreet and her fiance are on track to graduate before tying the knot, but their next endeavor is grad school.

“We’re going to have to act like big kids,” Overstreet said. “I’m sure it will be a big culture shock, but I’m excited.”

Overstreet has been engaged for four months and is ready for the next step. She said it just makes sense for them to wait until leaving Eau Claire.

“Right now we’re proceeding with caution,” Overstreet said. “But we wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Hannah Geis is also a senior who recently got engaged. Although she hasn’t yet planned when she’s getting married, she said it will be at least a year. Geis said she and her fiance, Aaron Koerten, are excited for the future but just want to keep living the college experience while they still can.

“I never really thought about getting married in college,” Geis said. “Right now we’re more focused on the friendships we’ve made.”

Getting hitched is a significant life goal most people look to attain. But planning which stage of your life you find that special someone is hardly something you can plan out.  Muerett said knowing when to drop to one knee and pop the question is purely a case by case basis.

“It was right for us,” Jake Meurett said. “When you know, you know.”