Dating goes viral
There's a new hot spot for finding dates--and it's not the local bar. Many students are now turning to the Internet when seeking a significant other.
One website which caters specifically to college students is datemyschool.com. Balazes Alexa and Jean Meyer, students at Columbia University, founded the website last November in an effort to connect academically driven students in the same geographic area.
"We grab the best of dating sites, social networks and professional networks, helping users branch out within their academic communities socially and professionally," Alexa said.
Datemyschool.com offers an outlet for students to connect anonymously with their peers in a safe environment. The site stresses its excellence in pairing students with like interests, such as similar majors.
"If an agriculture student only wanted to connect with forestry students, one click makes this all possible," said Melanie Wallner, press representative for the site.
Many students find the website beneficial because it allows them to connect exclusively with other college-aged members.
"Because DMS members attend the same school or school nearby and place the same priority on education, extracurricular activities and careers, members understand and relate to one another in a way they cannot on other dating sites that match users based on their ZIP codes," Wallner said.
The website also features a "zero embarrassment" option to assuage users.
"If members don't want to see people they already know, they can limit their profile access so they'll only meet people they don't know," Wallner said.
Even if students do not romantically connect with someone, members can still walk away with friendships and networking opportunities.
"One of my friends just got a job through personal contacts of a guy she met on DMS, and another friend keeps in touch with a DMS date that felt more platonic than romantic," Wallner said.
The site currently has more than 31,000 members and is growing rapidly after launching at 350 schools nationwide Aug. 17.
"Twenty-five percent of Columbia University is on the platform, 20 percent of New York University registered for the site, and in just a weekend 5 percent of Harvard signed up," Wallner said.
Dating websites like datemyschool.com allow users to meet more people than they would in the classroom.
"Online dating changes peoples' strategies toward dating," said Richard Mattson, head of the Auburn University Relationship Research Laboratory. "It casts a wider net."
Whether it's casually exchanging cellphone numbers or clicking a computer mouse, the way people connect with one another is constantly changing.
"Online dating will have positives and negatives associated with it," Mattson said, "but the ultimate goal is to find someone you're compatible with."