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“Maggie, 18 years old, from New York City.” Add in a few pictures that I never had the guts to post on Instagram, a slightly forward pickup line in my bio and done! It’s official: my best friend had just made me a Tinder mere days after my birthday to ‘broaden my horizons’ before college, so to speak. Or so I had hoped.

 

The summer before college felt like being stuck in limbo; I didn’t feel like a child anymore but I didn’t exactly feel like a full-grown adult either. Time ceased to exist, I didn’t have a single clue about the future and it finally felt like I was free from high school. I didn’t feel like going buck wild but also wanted to step out of my comfort zone. I mean, I was moving 16,000 miles away from home, so I might as well find something casual with no strings attached, right? Who knew Tinder could find you some really cool people to talk to? I honestly didn’t, until I made good conversation with a guy named Tyler*, who then freaked out after I offered my Snapchat to him and he found out my name wasn’t really Maggie (I thought I was clever for using my middle name on my profile. Guess he didn’t think it was that funny.)

 

Everyone isn’t born with an innate confidence that lets you interact with strangers through online dating sites, which can be a really scary place to put yourself out there like you’re advertising for attention or someone to talk to. If you’re an expert, or even someone completely new to the game, here’s some guidance on the pros and cons of using online dating sites in college.

 

PROS

There’s plenty of fish in the sea

People get onto Tinder for a multitude of reasons, so, there will be a lot of options. Trust me when I say that the first Chad you see isn’t the only good-looking guy on the app. Personally, the first encounter is what I consider the most painful due to awkward silences or overloading your partner with facts. It’s fun to get to know new people and chatting online makes introductions so much easier than meeting someone in person. My best friend back home had to label her matches that she added onto her Snapchat with certain emojis to remember which app they came from and keep her conversations organized.

 

I’ve got the power!

All college students are unsure about what they want for themselves in the future, but Tinder and other online dating sites are an easy way to make them feel confident and in control. It makes you feel like there’s an escape from the monotony or hecticness of college life. You pick out your most flattering pictures, instantly feel a little sexier by taking the reins in a conversation and get to showcase your best self. I might be pulling up to an 8 a.m. in an extra-large T-shirt and Birks, but, damn, I look good on my dating profile ALL. THE. TIME!

 

F is for friends who do stuff together…

Okay, hear me out, but swiping right on people can sometimes get you new friends quick. It’s a convenient way to meet people in a completely new environment. Swiping on the app during study breaks or walks to class is a great way to pass time. While checking out profiles on Tinder you are guaranteed to find people on your own college campus, and trust me, it’s even funnier when you see them in real life. I became close friends with a guy named Daniel* who I had previously swiped right on before moving to Baylor. This was probably also why I immediately clicked with him and felt familiar with his personality. I even went with him to get his ears pierced last week!

 

Thank you, next

Whether you’re looking for a hookup or something more, the best part about Tinder is that it doesn’t give off a super serious vibe. You don’t vibe with someone? Unmatch. You realize that you guys are better off as friends? That’s all right too. Have a bad date or hookup experience? You never have to see them again! It’s quite interesting to see how easily things can be undone online.

 

CONS

 

What do you mean?

Since everyone’s on Tinder to have a little fun, it’s not uncommon to get mixed signals, especially if you’re not quite sure about what you want. You may think your match is really into you, but also take into consideration that he/she may be talking to five other matches. That’s what you signed up for! Sometimes it’s hard to make a connection with a person you’ve never met before. Sometimes you two won’t establish a real relationship until you meet in person. Be open to the idea of meeting cute strangers, but don’t expose too much about yourself if not necessary.

 

Baby you think that you can hide, I can smell your scent for miles…​

The Internet can be a scary place. Anyone can be behind these dating profiles. Set your boundaries early on and make sure you both know what you want. A friend of mine back home found out her Instagram pictures were being used by a catfish on online dating sites. Remember to put your safety first. If you’re not ready to meet with a match or feel that something is wrong, trust your gut feeling and take it easy. There are extreme cases where hookups or dates are nothing like you expect they will be, which could be amplified by the number of matches you make online. There is a ton of bad rep about online dating, especially Tinder. These sites are known far and wide about how dangerous it could be to meet with strangers. We spend so much of our time stuck to our phones that we don’t get the opportunity to talk to strangers and make acquaintances in real life. The idea of making a lasting connection online is still hard for others to grasp, but it is definitely not impossible.

 

There are good and bad experiences when it comes to online dating, but one thing you should do before creating an account is opening your mindset for what you’re getting yourself into. Recognize that none of this is permanent, and that it is ultimately your choice to make on whether or not things advance. If anything, have fun! Discover new things about the people you meet and about yourself.

 

Joanne Gotanco is a freshman Medical Humanities major on the Pre-Med track at Baylor University. She is a LONG way from home (NYC reppin!) and has two shih-tzus named Max and Ruby. When she isn't rewatching Friends for the millionth time, she can probably be found hanging out at Moody Library or at the Fuego drive thru. Things that bring her joy include: fluffy socks, beaches, sushi, and long plane rides.
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