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My expectations for college dating culture came from the media. Thanks to those embarrassingly-obsessive MTV teen dramas, college seemed like a place where parties were rampant and students went in and out of relationships in a breeze. Of course, I don’t blame MTV; would anyone watch a show about college life if all the characters did were go to class and do homework? As someone who wasn’t exactly a party animal in high school, I was nervous about the so-called hook up culture in college. But, when entering college, I was surprised at the realities of college dating culture.

Coming into college, I expected way more students to be in relationships. Hearing about the usual hook up culture, I expected college to be a pool of overly sexually active young adults (not that anything is wrong with that, but that was simply my expectation from the media). Yet, throughout my short but educational time in college so far, I’ve realized that the vast majority of everyone I know is single. Not “Single aka I’m still casually dating this one guy but nothing’s exclusive”, but more like “Single aka I’m really not interested in any sort of relationship right now”. The college dating culture ended up to be much more minor than imagined.

I expected there to be constant gossip about who’s seeing whom, though instead, most of my classmates solely focus on their academics and extracurriculars, not even contemplating for a second about That One Cute Boy In Calculus. In fact, relationships are rarely mentioned on a day-to-day basis; the majority of chit-chat between my friend group consists of homework, classes, and Super Smash Bros. Many TV shows portrayed dating and relationships as a huge, unavoidable aspect of college life, though in reality, my friends and I rarely even thought about it.

The rise of dating apps further perpetuated my expectations about college: mostly just casual hook-ups. Though, after hearing about my friends’ experiences and trying out Tinder for myself, I found that many students just use those apps to find friends. No, I’m serious. Through those apps, my friends and I have found fellow concert go-ers and even study buddies. Surprisingly, not everyone on Tinder wants to Netflix and chill. Perhaps I just don’t go to a “party school”, or I hang out with a certain groups of friends, but my real-life college experience definitely smashed MTV’s idea of college into pieces. I’m sure if you want to partake in a dating culture similar to those portrayed in the media, you’ll find it on every college campus somewhere. But if you’re uninterested, it’s easily avoidable as well.

Compared to high school, college relationships definitely have their pros. You probably went to high school with the exact same people for all 4 years. Even though your classes changed every year, you cycled through the same few hundred or so kids, semester after semester. Chances are, your college has a much bigger population than your high school. In my first semester of college, I met new people nearly every single day through my dorm, classes, extracurriculars, and even the dining hall. If you’re looking to date, naturally there’s a wider pool of people to choose from when compared to high school. This is also beneficial because if you go through a messy breakup, it’s much easier to avoid the person until all feelings are resolved #justsaying.

PS. As a friendly reminder: whatever (or whomever) you choose to do in college, be sure to stay safe. In the traditional sense, this means using protection and getting tested (find out more in another The Prospect article here). In another sense, this means knowing and trusting your partner, especially when sexual assault is on the rise in college campuses across the US. 

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