Campus romance just a mouse click away
Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 01:09
It's hard to turn on the television without seeing commercials for eHarmony or match.com, but one Internet dating site exclusively matches college students.
This semester, DateMySchool.com became available for USF students. What sets this free site apart from others is that, unlike many of its contenders, it's solely for college students or alumni.
The site allows only those with an active university email address to join, making it easier for students to meet for romantic or academic reasons.
The concept mirrors the initial goals of social-networking giant Facebook — gaining attention by offering exclusivity — but Date My School's cofounders Balazs Alexa and Jean Meyer said the site will never go public.
"We expanded in a similar manner that they did initially, but then they opened it up for everybody in the world," Alexa said in an article on cnn.com. "We will never do that."
With memberships now available at about 350 schools nationally, the site's popularity has significantly grown since its 2010 launch. According to nyunews.com, 11 percent of New York University undergraduates were Date My School users as of March.
Director of public relations for Date My School Melanie Wallner said the website combines the best features from social networking and dating sites.
"DMS is a reversed social network," she said. "(It's) the only online platform that shows you people you don't know but can trust."
Wallner said the idea sparked from Alexa and Meyer overhearing a female student at Columbia University complaining about difficulty in meeting people from other departments on campus. After realizing this untapped market, the two launched the first version of the site and 1,300 Columbia students registered in one week.
Security features include privacy settings that allow members to remain anonymous from Internet searches. Communication with others can be as open or narrow as a user specifies.
Wallner also said that a user's profile won't turn up in a Google search and only the people that users want to view their profile can do so.
When users log on to Date My School for the first time, a drop-down menu provides them with the following options: "I am a woman who likes men," "man who likes women," "woman who likes women," "man who likes men," "woman who likes both" or "man who likes both."
Having just opened for USF users this summer, the website currently lists 17 users from the university — 11 male and six female.
Brienna Floyd, a freshman majoring in magazine journalism, joined the site two weeks ago when she heard about it in class.
"I decided to join simply because it looked interesting and my roommate dared me to," she said. "I've never used an online dating site before."
Floyd said she hopes more USF students join once word gets out. Though she was intrigued enough to join, she said she may consider deleting her account soon because of the small number of USF users.
Taja Pryor, a freshman majoring in criminology, said she didn't know about the student-only service, but thought meeting up with students within a close proximity would be ideal for those living on campus.
"Instead of meeting in places off of campus, you can meet in the Marshall Center, Beef O' Brady's, or one of the patios around campus," she said.
Safety is one of the central ideas behind the website, and the structure grants users the ability to make the experience relatable to themselves. Students can opt to communicate with members of a particular school, within a particular department and even a specific age or faith.
While the site has a focus on dating, Wallner said the intention of Date My School is to serve as an exciting way to safely bring students together — whether for friendship or romance.
"Though we used to market DMS as a dating site, it has become much more than that. It's really a platform to discover new people," she said. "We've been responsible for tons of new friendships, study buddies and couples, including a recent marriage."