10 Things High School Girls Should Know About Dating in College

You take your first step onto your college campus as an official college student, and that sweet smell of freedom is glorious. You’re free to not only be whoever you want and but also be with whoever you want! You don’t have to worry about Romeo-and-Julietesque encounters where parents forbid your relationship when there’s a huge campus full of cuties to talk to and where you make all the rules. But with all that freedom, the thought of dating can seem confusing and even overwhelming. College dating comes with its own very grown-up differences compared to high school, but recognizing the excitement along with the responsibility can ensure that you find that perfect love in no time.

1. There are more opportunities to meet new people

When we move from our little high school ponds into a vast college sea, you can bet there’s gonna be plenty more fish in that sea to meet! While in high school you usually mull around with your own crowd, college doesn’t keep you confined to certain cliques.

There’s also a much larger student population, so finding cuties to date is that much easier when you have so many potentials to choose from. Whether it’s at a small club luncheon, a 300-seat lecture hall or a vibing frat party, have fun finding a special someone among all the new people you’ll meet!

2. With more people, there’s a little more pressure

If that 300-seat lecture hall image struck a little fear in your gut, believe us, we understand. With the hundreds of students you meet in college, it can still feel like a lot of pressure to pick one out of many, let alone ask them on a date. Take a deep breath and don’t feel obligated to find someone immediately and start dating them. Keep up an open mind and socialize a bit, so that when someone does pique your interest, you can just casually ask for a coffee or study date to start.

3.You get a fresh start

In high school, you see the same people in your classes for four years straight, and you all know a lot about each other already. In college, however, you’ll meet and date people you’ll know nothing about, which can make it more adventurous! You can start fresh with this new person and learn about each other without little things like school gossip getting in the way.

“You're going to meet a lot of people in college, amazing people and the terrible ones. You can go out and date whoever you want but be sure to choose the correct date and if you don't, you're going to learn [from] it,” says Nashali Galarza, a junior at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico.

That being said, they’re still a complete stranger, so exercise a healthy degree of safety when you date. Have a first date in a public place, so that if you feel uncomfortable at all, you can leave as soon and as safely as possible. If a date goes awry on campus, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, faculty and campus police. For dates off campus, get the place’s staff or the police involved if you feel unsafe leaving by yourself. 

4. Dating is whatever you want it to be

In high school, if two people go to the movies together over the weekend, suddenly everyone thinks they’re a couple that’ll stay together till graduation do them part. Dating in college is a lot less binding and can be a much freer experience.

“There's a difference between liking the idea of a relationship and putting yourself out there so you meet people you would like,” says Teri Morgan, a senior at Chatham University.

You can date for fun, where you get to know new people and have a good time, or you can date to find your soulmate for life. Just make sure to clarify your intentions to your date and be sure you understand what they want as well!

Related: A Freshman Girl's Guide to College Dating 

5. Keep your “type” open-ended

With so many new people around you, you’re bound to find your perfect type in no time, right? Not necessarily. In fact, it would probably benefit you more to try dating different people instead of expecting a “ready-made” perfect type of person from the get-go. Every person you meet will endow you with something new to learn.

You could realize you like a certain attribute you never considered before, or you’ll realize exactly what you don’t want in a SO. Get to know different kinds of people and see what’s wonderful about every unique individual. Dating should be an enjoyable and adventurous experience, so trek through love with an open heart and open mind.

6. Dates can be literally anywhere

In high school, the standard “date” is usually going out to a nice restaurant or watching a movie; nowadays, in college, everyone usually free-balls the concept of a “date.” You two can go out to eat at a fancy restaurant or at a local burger joint, go see a movie at the theater or stay in at your dorm and binge a show on Netflix together, have a stroll in the park or just go grocery shopping together. In college, where everyone roams freely, you can make sweet memories anywhere!

7. Know your bounds in your dating freedom

One of the most exciting parts of dating in college is that you don’t have to get your parents' stamp of approval. No unfair standards to meet, no curfews to follow, just pure freedom to date whoever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want! While all that freedom can be exciting, be sure to keep yourself in check.

“Dating in college is hard, you need to set priorities in your studies, student organizations, work, family and love. But it is important to remember that YOU need to be your own [first] priority and to take care of yourself and your feelings,” says Nashali.

Your parents won’t be around to make sure you balance out all your other commitments, so you really will have to do it all on your own. Welcome to adulting!

8. Relationships move a lot faster

A first date turns into a second and then a third, and next thing you know the two of you are practically inseparable! Unlike high school relationships, college ones move a lot faster since you and your SO have complete control over when you want to see each other (no parents to kick your SO out of your room when it’s late or to refuse to let you go out every day of the week).

You’re both making bigger decisions as well, like whether to accept a job if it means less time for your SO or transferring to a different university for a dream internship you’ve always wanted. You’re faced with choices that seriously test your relationship, so it will grow and transform sooner than you’re probably used to. Take this quickened pace as a reality check that college really is where growth happens.

9. Don’t forget all the other “SOs” in your life

It’s so easy to get caught up in a new relationship and forget about the other special people around us. Friends, roommates and family should never be forgotten when you start dating. Making new friends or staying in touch with the ones coming with you to college is just as important if not more than searching for your soulmate.

Dedicate some of your time to friends and even to family at home. Don’t forget to call your parents in those fleeting moments when you’re not on the phone with the new SO in your life. When you have your SO over, don’t forget to consult your roommate about it first. Discuss what times are best for your SO to come over so that it doesn’t disturb your roommate; your dorm or apartment is for the both of you, so be fair towards one another when it comes to accommodating space and time.

Finding love doesn’t mean forgetting to show the same love and consideration for all the other people in your life who will help you grow on your journey through college.

10. Dating isn’t everything

The chances of finding love are higher than ever, but that doesn’t mean finding Mr./Ms.Right has to be your number one priority. Monica Perez, a junior at Florida Atlantic University, says that “besides it being a new beginning, [college] is a critical point for growth, so your perspective will change many times as you gain insight...dating shouldn’t be a focus, but when you date it can help you grow as a person.”  

“Whether you’re bringing a relationship from high school to college or if you’re finding someone new, make sure that person wants to grow with you!” Teri says. “You’re going to change in ways you wouldn’t even imagine, and they’ll have to be open to that, and vice versa.” College grants you all the chances to be whoever you want to be, learn new things and take risks! To have all these opportunities around you is truly remarkable, so grab hold of them and become the best version of yourself that you can be. And if someone catches your eye, then ask them out instead of waiting for them to make the first move. Let this be one of many risks you’ll take as you grow in these next four years.  

All in all, follow both your heart and mind and learn all the ups and downs of dating as a new adult. Don’t be afraid of making your own mistakes and learning about yourself and others around you because that is how you grow and how you learn to love even stronger than you did before.