Senior year is full of changes for students, but for some, it means even more. At Palm Beach Atlantic University, many senior students are also involved in serious relationships, with some on the path to marriage.
“I think that it’s a very common thing,” said Janelle Cripe, a senior cross-cultural studies major who is also engaged. “I think it’s like small Christian campuses in general, there’s often people getting engaged very soon after dating. I think it’s because there’s more intentionality in dating relationships.”
Senior Joel Findlay feels that serious relationships are especially common among upperclassmen at PBA. Originally from England, he transferred during his junior year in order to attend school with his girlfriend.
“Compared to my old school in the northeast, I think relationships are definitely seen and taken more seriously here,” Findlay said.
Kevin Abel, PBA’s dean of students, noted that while some students do feel the pressure to get engaged, most are focused on their relationship with Christ first and foremost.
“I think we [PBA] ultimately want to see them pursue that relationship with the Lord first, and to make sure they’re right there, and to let that lead them where it may,” Abel said. “I think for the most part our students do a pretty good job at that, at being able to seek what God’s plan is for them.”
In addition to the dating culture, PBA has a thriving atmosphere for singles as well. Melissa Nicoleau, a senior nursing major, agrees that serious dating is popular at PBA, but also notes that she doesn’t feel the pressure to jump into a relationship.
“I think you have to be content in all your seasons. Singleness is such an important time for you to grow and to work on other relationships with people around you, like your family, your friends, with God,” Nicoleau said. “In my singleness, I’ve grown so much and I’m so thankful for it.”
Abel also advises students to be patient and open to God’s plan, whether that be in a relationship or on their own.
“Be patient, and really look towards the Lord’s leading,” Abel said. “Don’t be looking for ‘the person’, but be looking at how they [students] can be growing closer in their relationship with Christ.”