Student-focused online dating gains popularity

In 20 years when they’ve settled in with a family of their own, their child asks, how did his mom and dad meet?

The answer isn’t in a college English class or in a popular bar, rather, on an iPhone dating app.

It’s not out of the ordinary to chat up a perfect stranger through social media, especially when apps, such as Tinder and OkCupid, and college dating websites make it their sole purpose. After Tinder “piloted its dating experience on a few college campuses,” users made 35 million profile ratings within the span of two months, according to TechCrunch.

Results with potential matches are highly localized — usually within 50 or so miles — making users feel more comfortable reaching out.

That’s also the idea behind CollegeBoo.com, Noah Mortel’s college dating website brainchild. After graduating in 2008 from Baylor, he didn’t have much money to start a full-fledged business. He put some thought into it, and decided students needed another avenue to meet and find love in a large campus dating arena.

“When I made it, I put myself back in those students’ shoes and was thinking about something that I would have loved to have while I was in college,” he said.

The site requires a verified .edu email account to register and members have the option to search exclusively within their own campus. A free membership grants access to profile browsing and viewing photo albums. For a fee, users can have the total experience including messaging, music and video, gift exchange and group and speed dating events.

Mortel said the site is more of a fusion of traditional online dating with the security and comfort of being able to meet in familiar territory.

It’s been growing steadily, Mortel said. The site has about 375 members currently. The majority are freshman and sophomore undergraduates, and Mortel said the site has slightly more women than men with accounts.

Since launching CollegeBoo in January, he’s been seeing potential matches connecting, but he hasn’t heard any wedding bells just yet.

“I want to hear success stories. I want to hear about another student finding love and marriage and things like that,” Mortel said. “To me, that would be the greatest thing.”

There’s more mystery behind another campus connecting service. The popular Twitter account @KUSecretAdmirer isn’t trying to play matchmaker — it’s an avenue for anonymous shout-outs.

Although tweets are known for being vulgar at times, the three anonymous admins said they try to post anything unique, funny or sentimental. And just because it’s not an official dating service doesn’t mean that a flattering “Secret Admirers” tweet couldn’t ignite a spark.

“People tweet, direct message and email us how much they appreciate the tweets, but it’s really other people’s words. We’re just here to post them,” the admins wrote in an email.

Despite privacy features, the safety aspect of online dating is where things get tricky. There’s still no surefire way to verify that who you’re talking to online is exactly who he or she is said to be until you step away from the computer.

“Trust is so central in a relationship, and if you don’t really have a basis for establishing trust, then it’s difficult to go forward,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity. “And you may be basing your assumptions on things that aren’t real.”

However, the benefits of online and social media matchmaking outweigh the drawbacks, especially when flirting in class isn’t an option.

“Finding other ways to get to know people out of your direct circle, this is certainly one way to do it,” Rose-Mockry said.

Emma LeGault is a sophomore from Emporia majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Jun. 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm
  • Edited by Megan Hinman
  • http://theheartographer.com/ TheHeartographer

    What a cool concept! I went to a very small, tight-knit college, but I always thought it would be tricky to date at one of the much larger state schools like the one my best friend attended. I hope CollegeBoo finds success!