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Real Talk: Your Ph.D. Won't Stop You from Getting Your M.R.S.

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College Student
For weeks, I’ve been haunted by a story I read in a recent Washington Post article about the inner-workings of Black women. Writer Krissah Thompson interviewed Janell Hobson, an associate professor of women's studies at Albany State University, who relayed a story about a “promising [Black] undergrad student” Hobson had counseled about pursuing doctoral studies. The student ultimately decided not to seek a Ph.D. out of fear that it would distract her from pursing a M.R.S. and leave her unmarried in the long run.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-off anecdote. I regularly lecture on college campuses, and this sentiment is gaining popularity. Culturally, I get how this logic could come into play. As women, we’re constantly told to let the man lead, and told that this fairytale man should be a breadwinner and head of the household. At best, we’re supposed to be looking for someone who’s “equally yolked,” which many of us translate to mean equally accomplished.

If you’re a young Black woman on a college campus, looking around at the likely overwhelming ratio of women to men, how you’re supposed to achieve the ideal could be confusing. Add in all the hoopla about single Black women in the media -- which I should note that despite all the fuss, the majority of Black women get married, even going by the worst stats -- and it’s no wonder that our little sisters are worried that they become us, and may go to extreme lengths not to.

What women -- young, old, and in between -- aren’t being widely told is that their education works in their favor, as does delaying marriage. The New York Times’ recent story “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.” declares “for a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.” The article isn’t specifically about Black women, since (gasp!) being single isn’t a Black issue, but it does specifically shout us out: College-educated Black women are considerably more likely to marry than their less-educated counterparts, according to the article. As of 2008, 70 percent of African-American female college graduates had married, compared to 60 percent of high school graduates and just 53 percent of high school dropouts.

This backs up the findings of a previous study that Black women’s likelihood of marriage increased based on the number of degrees she held. As a nice bonus, college-educated women are less likely to divorce, also according to the Times.

Do you get what all that means?

Let me break it down: Go on and get your degrees, girl! A good mind is a terrible thing to waste, and a great way to increase your odds of finding a mate.

Has your education impacted your ability to find a partner?   

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk
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