Post-College: The Final Countdown

College is deemed as a time in ones life where one can do whatever he or she wants. There are no parents, no rules, and a plentiful supply of alcohol and horny boys and girls. This leads to a hook-up culture that resonates on college campuses that replaces the “dating” scene that took place during high school.

Freshman students come into college with many expectations that originated with media. Most of these expectations deal with the hook-up culture, because let’s face it, it’s inescapable. In Katherine Bogle’s Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus, she outlines the process of “hooking up”. First, individuals must identify a hookup partner (random or known), trigger some sort of change going from strangers or acquaintances to act sexual, identify a place to hook up, and decide how far both parties feel comfortable going with each other. A big reason the “hook up” scene thrives on college campuses is due to the proximity of dorms to parties. Here at Vanderbilt, all fraternity parties take place on campus, so if students meet at a party and decide to go back to the room to “hook up”, it is relatively easy.

However, after these four years of essentially “messing around” and avoiding relationships, once college ends it is not so easy anymore. It’s crunch time to find “the one”. Remember all the couples in high school? It’s back! The hook up culture is very different and is now replaced with serious dating. According to Bogle and all the interviews she conducted, women often have an age that they deem ideal for marriage and don’t want to get married any later. They often have plans of their future lives and have an age set for child bearing as well. On the other hand, instead of wanting to be married by a certain age men have an age that they do not want to be married until. This may seem confusing but is true even in my friend group. For example, I hope to be married by the time I am twenty-six and have kids at twenty-nine, but my friend Christopher says will not even consider marriage before the age of thirty. With men and women idealizing different ages to get married and have children, someone has to give. Who ends up sacrificing their life plans?

In addition to individuals being forced to face the real world and their futures, the hook-up scene changes to dating for a multitude of other reasons. In college, when a two people meet at a fraternity party or any other on-campus event, there is a bubble of safety even with going back to the dorms with them. It is certain that both individuals go to the college, so even if they do not particularly know each other, they are sure to have mutual friends and this creates a level of comfort. However, after college this safety blanket is no longer there. When two people meet at a bar, they are strangers in all aspects: they knowing nothing about one-another, and this creates discomfort. Over fall break, I went to the University of Georgia, and instead of fraternity parties like we have here at Vandy, students spend their weekend nights going out to bars in Athens. This was fun, but similar to post college dating, it is unknown whether someone actually goes to UGA or is just hanging out at the bars, and this made me uncomfortable. From the time we are babies, “do not talk to strangers” is always being instilled in us, so this comes back around in the post-college dating scene.

In addition to the added stranger-danger aspect of dating, there are new expectations. In the college hook-up scene, seeing people making out on the dance floor is not a rare occurrence; in fact it is everywhere, and not much is left to the imagination. If this is what people are doing in public, who can say what is happening in the privacy of their room when the students go back. However, once college is over, dating is less casual and less “for fun” and more serious and for the purpose of finding ones future husband or wife. Therefore, sexual expectations are lot less than one would think especially on the first date. Being a freshman in high school surrounded by the hook-up culture, this shocks me. First, we back track from dating in high school to casually “hooking up” in college, and now we go from making out with strangers in college to no sexual contact on first dates post-college? In Bogle’s studies, she has come to the conclusion that though men will hook up with anyone, they want a respectable wife. In her interview with Jake, he admits that though he has slept with girls on the first date, he would never want a relationship with them. The farthest he would go on a first date is a goodnight kiss, and this notion was reflected by other males and females as well. Additionally, there is a stigma with the number of people women have slept with. In Bogle’s interview with Matthew, he admits that if a girl has slept with over 15 people that would concern him, but interestingly his number is over 100. Is that not concerning?

Overall, as seen by the interviews Bogle conducted, though the hook-up culture has died down, the double standard does not go away. Besides these social and environment issues, what else do you think contributes to the decline of the hook up scene in the years following college? Why do women generally want to marry younger than men? Why do men get to decide what is the right and wrong number of people for women to sleep with?

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3 thoughts on “Post-College: The Final Countdown

  1. If you don’t find your partner for life during your collegiate career, then post-college it’s all or nothing. Many young people leave the safety net of their given university and go out into the real world with little to no skill set with dating techniques or expectations (mainly because of the prevalence of the hookup culture on their respective campus). It seems funny to me, as you pointed out here, that in college people will have sex without ever really “talking” to their sexual partner, yet post-college, those same people will avoid kissing on the first date. We are confronted with mixed signals and norms we don’t even understand, and I think that adds to the complicated nature we face after graduating.

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  2. I feel as though the rush to get married after college is a consequence of “the real world.” Where men have many years that can be dedicated to the bachelor without judgement, women are pressured to get married in order to make sure that they can have babies, enjoy a family, and be financially secure (because of their older spouse, of course!!). In college, women are sometimes given a free ticket to participate in hookup culture, but hookup culture comes with more of a price after graduation– people begin to question your morals, your status as “wife-material”, and your level of responsibility.
    Following along with some societal and cultural expectations, men are the half of the marriage that make money to support the family. I think that this is the reason why men (who feel as though that is the role they’d like to take on later in life) believe they are justified in choosing an “appropriate” and young wife to present a certain image following their bachelor years.

    These expectations for men and women post-grad seem antiquated, but I believe that it is the source of the difference in behavior and goals of men and women following college.

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  3. I think it’s so interesting how the social scripts for sexuality change between the college and post college years. In both cases though, men dominate these scripts. Men can have unlimited sexual partners, while women are stigmatized if they have too many. Men want to sleep with a lot of women, but they will not actually be in relationships with those “easy” women. It’s so hard for women to navigate these complicated expectations that men set for them. I think it is wrong that women are seen as the subjects of mens’ sexuality instead of free sexual beings; men shouldn’t be able to dictate female sexuality in any way.

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