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Career aspirations that were once restricted largely to men are now common among college women.Half a century ago, few college women had parents who had divorced.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.[1] 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while under the supervision of parents and other older adults, more debatable is Kass' argument that courtship has not been replaced by any effective institutionalized mating norms, or at least not by ones guided by older adults.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.To examine this question, a team of researchers fielded a structured telephone survey of 1,000 undergraduate, unmarried, heterosexual college women from around the country.In addition, prior to the telephone survey and with an eye toward designing it, members of the research team visited 11 different college and university campuses and conducted detailed, in-person interviews with 62 women attending some of the more elite institutions of higher education in the nation (see Appendix A for details).

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Given the differences between the two samples, the results of the qualitative interviews should be interpreted with caution, but it seems likely that the kinds of attitudes, feelings, and experiences prevalent among the qualitative subjects are common at least among the women enrolled in the kinds of elite institutions at which these subjects were enrolled.

Right" describes the attitudes and values of today's college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and marriage.

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.

An 18-month study of the attitudes and values of today's college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and marriage – involving in-depth interviews with a diverse group of 62 college women on 11 campuses, supplemented by 20-minute telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 college women – yields the following major findings.

All of us are fascinated by how young people meet and mate, and as a society we are particularly interested in how college students – the next generation of social leaders – make these decisions.

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