As a transition time between high school and the professional world, many young people use college as a time to date casually or to search for a spouse. In today’s busy world, work, class and plenty of things can get in the way of finding that special someone. This fast-paced life style and lack of social life has led to an increase in online dating for college students.
“I believe that there are two reasons college students are drawn to online dating. First, college students are extremely busy. Secondly, society is moving towards a more online presence,” said Donald Saucier, associate professor of social psychology.
The emergence of college online dating does more than just reflect how busy today’s society is, according to another professor.
“I view online dating as a positve development in a mass society with high mobility,” said Harald Prins, distinguished professor of anthropology.
College students dating online is proof of the increasing trend to go against “traditional” society, Prins said.
“It shows us just how small our social network really is, seeing as we have to look to cyberspace to find a mate,” he said.
Meeting people online instead of at parties, at work or in class can be easier, and help shield people from rejection.
“Human beings have a motivation to affiliate with others and online dating just makes it easier,” Saucier said. “With online dating, it is easier to be optimistic, even though evidence has proven that people tend to lie.”
Erika Davis, junior in psychology, doesn’t plan to use the Internet to date while in college.
“Online dating is not something I would personally do,” Davis said. “This is more because of risks. As an actively social person, I prefer to meet people in person rather than in a chat room.”
While Davis isn’t ready to jump on the college online dating bandwagon, she does know of successful cases of couples meeting online. She said her roommate from her freshman year created an online dating profile. After a failed first relationship through the site, she was matched with another site user. About a year and four months later, they are still together, Davis said.
The population of Manhattan can also play a significant role in the size of the dating pool and some students’ decisions to look online for love.
“In a small college town like Manhattan, it is not irrational for a single lady to look to online dating, especially if she is new to town,” Prins said.
Websites exist that cater specifically to college students. Datemyschool.com, created in 2010 by Columbia University students Balazs Alexa and Jean Meyer, now has over 187,000 users.
The opening screen of Datemyschool.com boasts, “Mommy won’t see you. Beliebers won’t see you. Stalkers won’t see you. Canadians won’t see you,” among other promises of privacy. Custom settings allow users to block people from certain schools, departments or people with certain likes and dislikes to avoid unwanted viewers. Students can also streamline their search by selecting traits they want to have in common with their date.
The site features a Twitter-like feed from users, which can be customized to show all users, users near you or only users you’ve selected. Users are searchable by school, age, location, “looking for” and other identifiers.
Only verified university email accounts with a .edu domain can be used to set up accounts. Profiles require a photo to access others’ information. Basic profiles and services are free, with upgrades available.