A dating site aimed exclusively at college students launched this week at UCLA, interesting some students while leaving others unconvinced of the need for one.
The site, called DateMySchool.com, was founded by two friends at Columbia University who lamented the difficulty of meeting people outside of their academic department. It allows students with active university email addresses to connect online.
The free site follows a format resembling similar social sites, with a profile page and an option to message other users.
DateMySchool launched Wednesday at 204 campuses, including UCLA. This brings the total number of registered schools to 350, said Melanie Wallner, director of public relations for the site.
By the second day of launch, about 150 UCLA students had signed up for the site, Wallner said.
One of those students is Amanda, who asked her name be withheld for privacy reasons. The second-year student said she signed up for the site on a whim.
“I thought, “˜I’ve never tried online dating, and it seemed harmless,’” she said. “I figured it wouldn’t hurt.”
Other students felt more apprehensive about the idea. Jonathan Chu, a fourth-year biology student, said though meeting people online has become more popular, it still feels taboo amongst students.
“I mean, we’re at UCLA,” Chu said. “There’s what, 20,000 undergrads? There are so many ways to meet people here that joining a dating site seems pretty out there to me.”
Joining a club or meeting people in classes ensures that you have something in common, he said, adding that he met his girlfriend in a volunteer club.
Jen Davis, an incoming first-year undeclared student, said she would like to date someone in college. But she does not think a dating site is necessarily the way to do it.
“Maybe it would work if you went to a small college and wanted to find someone outside of your school,” Davis said. “UCLA is big enough, I think.”
Safety settings and exclusivity are touted as the way this site distinguishes itself from other college dating sites, Wallner said.
Users can control who sees their profiles, which are anonymous and unsearchable on sites like Google. Students can also choose whether they want only people from their school to contact them, or allow students from other schools in the area as well.
The anonymity aspect is what drew Amanda to create a profile.
“I think it’s definitely safer,” she said. “A lot of people don’t want to pay to join something like this, and they also don’t want to be searchable. Having active emails also ensures that these people are legitimately students.”
Despite the efficiency of talking to people on the Internet, Davis said she would feel apprehensive meeting someone in person she had only talked to online Â”“ which Amanda agreed with.
“They could be a completely different person,” Amanda said. “That’s definitely a danger of any online social site.”
The site also aims to transcend the sole purpose of online dating. Wallner said members will soon be able to use the site to make new friends, in addition to forming romantic relationships.
“It’s a way to connect students in other ways, not just romantically ““ people use it to find tutors and network their way into jobs,” she said.
Amanda said she hasn’t met anyone in person since signing up with the site. But she said she is hopeful a couple of people she is currently messaging will turn out to at least be friends.
“I really think of it as another social media site, just with a different focus,” she said.