How to date on campus 

Notes from the field


For years, we've all heard the story of how Grandpa and Grandma met. "I saw her from across the lecture hall; she was the most beautiful girl I've ever seen. I just had to meet her." But this story neglects to tell the real truth — that is, how exactly college "dating" works.

First of all, we need to drop the notion that everyone meets his or her soulmate sitting in a lecture. Do you meet people in your lectures? Yes. Do you meet "the most beautiful person you've ever seen?" Perhaps. But do you marry that person and pop out a couple kids a few years down the line? Probably not. The truth is that only 28 percent of married couples attended the same college. And today, getting married and settling down isn't a college student's top priority.

Two types of students dominate college campuses: students interested in relationships and students interested in relations. The type of group you fall into might depend on which college you attend. Students of smaller and more religious schools are more likely to strive for relationships than those who study at larger universities. Students of smaller colleges who are looking for less serious relationships usually search out this type of company on weekends spent at said larger universities. Perhaps larger schools have a more relaxed atmosphere, or perhaps the greater number of students makes a reputation less capable of following them around. Who knows — maybe they're just sampling flavors like you do at an ice cream parlor.

The ice cream sampling is likely to have started during your freshman year of college. You were on your way to what they call "the real world," and, for the first time in a few years, were surrounded by a slew of new people. If you lived on campus your freshman year, you probably recall meeting dozens of people in your dorm. After all, you were all freshmen, you didn't have a very expansive social calendar, and you were always in proximity to hundreds of people in the same boat. Fortunately, these people have the potential to create massive networks of friends and classmates — all potential people to take out ... or back to your dorm for some of that high-quality, don't-wake-my-roommate loving.

As stereotypical as it may be, parties are another great way to meet people. Rundown houses, dirty bars, loud music, and massive amounts of alcohol are the perfect combination for fostering a conversation with the cute guy you crushed on in your COM lecture. The lack of visibility creates the potential to appear even more attractive. Loud music makes voices practically inaudible, so chances are he didn't hear any of the embarrassing comments you've made so far. Combine that with the fact that you're being bumped into every few seconds and you have to perfect excuse to take your conversation outside. If all goes well, that liquid courage kicks in and you two hit it out of the park.

Maybe you are one of the guys who sees the "most beautiful girl" from across the bar. You buy her a drink and commit an hour or so to telling her how pretty she is, and how you think her major is admirable. You're an education major? I loved my third grade teacher ... No way! Zoology sounds so cool. Do you get to, like, work with animals? Or, my personal favorite: I've always had a thing for accountants. They just seem so accountable. If she thinks you're charming, or is too drunk to realize you called her accountable, she just might be willing to go home with you. Who knows — things may even get hot and heavy in the back of your cab.

If you aren't able to meet people in lectures, through friends, at work, at a party, on your way to class, in the library, or at the bar, you can always go the Tinder route. Boasting connections between 8 billion people, Tinder sounds like a great way to have a great night. And, as college students, sometimes that's just what we need. So you download the app and set up your profile. You upload your hottest selfies, (the ones of you at the beach, definitely one from a tailgate, one with your dog, and a few from that pregame last week) and publish your age and school in your bio. Then the fun begins. Through some magic, Tinder locates everyone in your area who fits your age and gender preferences. Now you get to go through and swipe left or right based on how hot someone is in his or her hottest selfies. This is a very reliable system. Chatting up your matches just might score you that stress relief you needed.

Sometimes, random hookups or friends with benefits blossom into relationships. Imagine telling that story to your grandkids one day: They used to have this app called Tinder. Grandma and I were a match, and after hooking up 30 times at 2 in the morning, I realized she was alright and we started dating. I even bought her Chipotle to seal the deal.

There are also students who find a significant other through a more traditional (or shall we say, archaic) route. Maybe they escaped from the friend zone or somehow managed to keep it in their pants long enough to actually consume a meal together before consecrating their relationship. While these couples can be adorable, they are not rushing off to the altar. College graduation brings with it drastic changes, like a new permanent address. And, as we witnessed over Thanksgiving break our freshman year, long-distance relationships tend to fizzle out, leaving these students back at square one: meeting new people.

Overall, there are innumerable ways to meet people while in college. Whether you're focused on relations or relationships, there's a good chance that you'll be that girl in the bar, you will attend those awkward hangouts where your friends try to set you up, you will crush on someone from your COM lecture, and you will be willing to test out online "dating," Have some fun. Who knows — in 50 years, you just might have something to tell your grandkids about.

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