Among the scholars who have argued for the importance of socially defined mating processes is Leon Kass, who has chronicled and lamented the demise of courtship. Although few are likely to challenge Kass' contention that there has been a decline in the "wooing" of young women by young men, all while under the supervision of parents and other older adults, more debatable is Kass' argument that courtship has not been replaced by any effective institutionalized mating norms, or at least not by ones guided by older adults. More broadly, are young women today left to find the pathway to marriage completely on their own, or are there any social processes at work that help (or harm) them if they wish to achieve a happy marriage?This study seeks to examine the dating and courtship attitudes and values of contemporary college women, focusing on unmarried, heterosexual women enrolled as undergraduates in four-year colleges and universities in the United States.Although recent changes in mating practices on American college campuses have not been well documented, it is clear that there have been many changes in the context in which these practices occur.For instance, since the middle of the 20th century, the relative numbers of men and women enrolled in institutions of higher learning have changed dramatically (see Figure 1, available only in the pdf version of this report).
Marriage is a major life goal for the majority of today's college women, and most would like to meet a spouse while at college; however, there are important aspects of the college social scene that appear to undermine the likelihood of achieving the goal of a successful future marriage.At the same time, there is a growing discussion in the U. about marriage and its benefits for children and society.Numerous scholars are conducting research that investigates how marriages succeed and how troubled marriages can be improved.In addition, because women often depended on their husbands for social standing and economic security, it was not uncommon for women to drop out of college once they found a husband. As can be seen in Figure 1 (available only in the pdf version of this report), significant changes had occurred by 1980, by which time more women than men were enrolled in U. This change has reduced the opportunities for women to find desirable husbands at college.Further, the great increase in divorce in the late 1960s and 1970s made it more hazardous for women to rely on husbands for economic security and social standing.